Costa de Prata

In a previous blog I wrote about a new place that we discovered, but there is still more to discover.

Situated between Torres Novas and Abrantes there is the castle of Almourol, or as the Portuguese saying Castelo de Almourol. It seems to be a fairy tale castle located on an island in the Tagus. The island itself would not be more than a large boulder. Accessible by ferry or on foot when the water is low. Who wants to see the castle inside, choose the ferry because without any ticket no entrance.

According to the story the castle was built in 1171 by Gualdim Pais, the first Grand Master of the Knights Templars in Portugal. Conquerors have never been able to penetrate it, because the Templars knew that a round tower was better to defend than a square tower. The castle is surrounded by nine towers and ramparts. Tomar was the later headquarters of the Knights Templar in Portugal. Still, the round towers of castles from the period after 1100 are a sign of recognition that this is a building of the Knights Templars.

About Almourol castle seems to exist a beautiful knight novel Palmeirim the Inglaterra which tells the story of knights and giants and fights of the crusader Palmeirim for Princess Polinarda. And in the castle would still haunt the ghost of a princess, yearning for the love of her Moorish slave.

This spring we will certainly go. The prince on the white horse I already have, but princess for a day seems to me quite nice.

Culturally very rich area where you can easily spend a whole day

On the 'edge' of the Costa de Prata you can find one of the most de meest interesting places of Portugal.

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

This palace is one of the most important Portuguese examples of royal architecture. It is topped by two large twin chimneys built over the kitchen, which have become the symbol of Sintra. It is the best preserved medieval Royal Palace in Portugal. It is part of the Cultural landscape of Sintra, designated World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Palácio Nacional da Pena

This palace is the most remarkable example of Portuguese Romantic architecture. The palace stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon. It is a national monument and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is also still in use for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.

Castelo dos Mouros

The Moorish Castle dates back to the early days of the Moorish occupation of the Peninsula (the 8th century). The current building is the result of a renovation carried out in the 19th century. The views from its walls and towers are breathtaking.

Convento dos Capuchos

The monastery was built in 1560 by Dom Álvaro de Castro, in fulfillment of a vow by his father, Dom João de Castro. Its tiny cells, small chapel, refectory and other dependencies, installed in the rock and lined with cork, are a telling example of the humble and austere existence of the Franciscan friars who lived here.

Other places of interest in Sintra are: Parque da Pena, Quinta de Monserrate (park), Museu de Arte Moderna (museum of modern art), Museu do Brinquedo (toys museum), and Quinta da Regaleira (palace and gardens).


Stunning city with castle in the valley of the river Lis

On top of a hill, in the centre of Leiria, you can find the remains of the Castelo the Leiria. It was built around 1135, and in the 16th century it was transformed into a renaissance palace. Parts of the castle were renovated in the 20th century.

It is one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal. It is even part of the country’s coat-of-arms.

The historic city centre of Leiria spreads between the castle hill and the river Lis.

Other sites in the city are:

  • The Sé cathedral, renaissance style
  • Museu do Seminário (seminary’s museum): exhibition of old azulejos (Portuguese tiles), wood carvings, sculptures, and 16th century paintings
  • Igreja da Misericórdia
  • Nossa Senhora da Encarnação: pilgrims church
  • Igreja do Espirito Santo
  • Moinho do Papel do Lis: an old paper mill with a museum about the craft of making paper
  • Museu de Imagem e Movimento MIMO: museum of image and movement
  • Jardim de Luis de Camões (garden)


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