The Moorish Castle had the Best Views of Sintra, Portugal’s Crown Jewel

In early September we stopped off in Portugal for five days before returning home to Canada. We took a train to Sintra to visit Portugal’s most expensive real estate district and a place that has some of the most beautiful estates and castles in the country. A highlight of the trip was going to one of the highest points overlooking the town, the Castle of the Moors, a fortress that is over 1000 years old.

Look up, look way up! Right after we got off the train we could see the Moorish Castle high above us. We were there later in the day

It’s an easy trip from Lisbon to Sintra. It takes less than an hour and trains go there from a few different locations in the capital city. When we arrived in the morning at the train station, the fortress was the first thing we saw. However, it would turn out to be the last place we visited after a long day at Sintra.

You can visit the castle by paying for the hop on/hop off bus that travels through the the town daily and visits most of the famous locations. We did a lot of walking around the town but couldn’t have seen all of the major sites on foot. The bus is a necessity if you want to see them; without the bus it would have been too difficult to go up the hills that are a major feature of the town. You can buy single tickets or pay for unlimited hop on/off rides going one way.

The free bus map given out in Sintra

After After getting off the bus along a winding road, it was about a 15 minute walk to the castle along a path.

Approaching the main gate. The glass roof is under the tree at the centre-left near the back of the photo.

As we approached the castle, I saw a glass roof near the lower left, covering some excavations. So I leaned over the glass to have a look…

I didn’t expect that!

The reproduction skeletons showed the location of people buried just outside the walls of the castle. Along with the military presence, there was a settlement in the area.

The building to the right had artifacts inside
Inside the small building
Through the gate
The wind was blowing so strongly that I was actually holding on to the wall here
The national Palace of Sintra far down below
Before going up further along the wall

The castle was huge and has a long wall that kept going higher up. The wind never stopped while we were up there and it was difficult holding on in a few situations.

Notice the blowing hair. The wind was howling at this point.
Looking back as we went higher
Fancy homes far down below
Continuing up the wall. To the right in the distance you can see Pena National Palace atop a neighbouring hill
The wind kept pushing as we went higher
The town of Algueirão–Mem Martins is in the distance

With the sun beginning to set it was time to head back down to take the train back to Lisbon.

We only spent a day in Sintra, but you could easily stretch it into one or two more depending on your pace. The Moorish Castle was just one of many impressive sites in Sintra, but for us it was one of our favourites.

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