Romanesque Castles in Portugal

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Tomar Castle

Tomar Castle was the headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal. It features an ‘alambor’, a reinforced base using a stone-slanted ramp, which has its origins in castle architecture that was developed by the Crusaders in the Holy Land. Notably, this feature can be seen at Kraks de Chevaliers and Châtillon in Syria.

The Knights Templar Fortress of Almourol, Portugal.

Almourol Castle

Almourol Castle was a Knights Templar fortress and is one of the most emblematic and picturesque Medieval castles of the Reconquista. Standing on a small islet in the middle of Tejo river, its position provided an enhanced natural defence as it could only be accessed by boat, even when the river was at lower levels.

Pombal Castle

Pombal Castle, another example of a Templar castle, presents a similar plan to Tomar and also features an alambor’, but in this case not in its outer walls but on the base of the keep tower. It was also one of the first fortresses with a barbican wall, a sign of early Gothic evolution.

Ourém Castle

Ourém Castle is a triangular shaped fortress with towers on each of the vertices. The castle is connected to a 15th century fortified palace by a tunnel. Queen Mecia, wife of Sancho II, was kidnapped and locked in one of the towers at this castle during the civil war of 1245-1248.

Montemor-o-Velho Castle

The first reference to a stronghold on the site dates back to the 9th century but the Romanesque layout of Montemor-o-Velho Castle is the result of extensive enlargements that were effected between the 12th to the 14th centuries.

Torres Novas Castle

Torres Novas Castle occupies a dominant position overlooking the city of the same name, on the Almonda river. A near-rectangular plan with 10 towers, the castle was besieged in 1184 and then again in 1190 by the Almohads, who captured it and extensively rebuilt it, construction lasting into the early years of the 13th century.

Trancoso Castle

The 10th century tower of Trancoso Castle was surrounded by a set of walls between 1159 and 1173 to counter a series of Muslim attacks on the city. It was at Trancoso that king D.Dinis married to Isabel of Aragón in 1282.

Melgaço Castle

Melgaço Castle is a typical Romanesque castle with an oval shaped plan and an free-standing keep tower within the enclosure. Two doors are reinforced by three towers, the largest of which has a pentagonal shape and faces the urban side.

Belver Castle

Belver Castle was the first castle to have been built by the Knights Hospitaller in Portugal, between the years 1194 and 1212. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Tagus River. It was one of the castles that kept the royal treasury during the reigns of Afonso II and Sancho II – attesting to its strong defences.

Arnóia Castle

Arnóia Castle was built sometime between the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. The castle occupies a prominent rocky outcrop, and was constructed to defend the nearby Monastery of São Bento de Arnoia. Towards the end of the 20th century the castle underwent extensive renovations and was opened to the public in 2004.

Longroiva Castle

Longroiva Castle is located in the village of the same name near the city of Mêda, in the Beira-Alta region. It was one of the first castles in Portugal to feature a keep tower defended by a ‘hurdício’ – a wooden gallery at the top of the walls that enabled defenders a near vertical aim at the enemy below.

Monsanto Castle

Monsanto Castle, At the top of a granitic mountain, on the right bank of the Pônsul river, it dominates the historical village of Monsanto with a marvellous view over the entire valley, which is the border with Spain.

Penas Róias Castle

Archaeological evidence suggests that construction of Penas Róias Castle began in 1166. As a result of centuries of neglect, little of the old Templar fortress remains: the keep tower as well as remnants of the wall and two turrets. Occupying a prominent position, the hilltop has great views towards a number of other nearby castles.