Castelo St George dominates the horizon in downtown Lisbon. Lisbon is called the city of seven hills and they are not wrong we can tell you. Castelo St George sits atop one of the seven hills in a commanding position looking over the downtown area. You will find many shops selling the iconic Lisbon tiles on your way to the castle. Artists set up stands on the streets just outside the castle, buskers play music and market stalls adorn the side of road leading to the ticket office at the gate of the castle
History: Original settlement on this site dates back to 48BC. Castelo St George has been in place since the 6th century when it was fortified by Roman Visigoths and eventually the Moors used it as a Royal seat of residence until the 11th century. Portugal’s first king Afonso Henriques captured the castle it in 1147. The king engaged the service’s of northern European crusaders on their way to the Holy Land to participate in the crusade’s against the Moors. Only by luck did this happen as the crusaders were forced into port at porto by bad weather. It was here the king approached them about supporting him to drive the moors from Lisbon. The castle was renamed Castle St George in honor of the anglo-Portuguese treaty and served as the royal seat until the mid 13th century.
Features: The castle provides the most breathtaking views of Lisbon.We have viewed Paris from Sacre Cour, we have viewed Barcelona from Montjuic but I must say the view you experience here is just about the best in Europe in my Opinion. It was amazing, inspiring the mix of the color roofs of Lisbon, the river and hills of the city all layed out front of you. You enter the gate in the shadow of a statue of king Afonso seeming still overlooking his royal palace. Canons adorn the edge of the high walls a permanent reminder of the original use of the castle in its days as protector of the royal family and the city of Lisbon. A stroll along the outside walls is highly recommended for the panoramic views it provides of Lisbon. The view stretches from the top of Avenida da Libadade, Edward V11 park down to the River Tagus and Arc rue Augustaout to the Pont 25 suspension bridge and beyond.
As you head into the interior of the castle and the Alcaçovas Palace complex you come across the remains of what is left of the royal residence. High walls and look out towers reminiscent of many medieval castles confront you as you head over the bridge into the interior of the castle. Back in its hay day when the castle’s importance was at its peak Castelo St George used to have a moat protecting it. The long extensions of the walls can still be walked and the 18 lookout towers accessed. The inner section of the castle is just a shell with nothing remaining from its glory days as a royal residence. Most of the castle interiors were destroyed over the years and Castelo St George suffered substantially in the great earthquake of 1755.
One of the interior towers, the Tower of Ulysses, holds the Câmara Escura, a periscope that projects sights from around the city. At the back of the Castle lies a small section of archeological ruins. These ruins display evidence of three important periods of the city of Lisbon. The first settlements dating back to 7th century BC, the moorish residential area and the original construction of the castle. A permanent exhibition in the Alcacovas area has on display artifacts found in the archeological ruins area such a fragments of plates, pots and things used in everyday life dating back to the 7th century BC.
Tours: A free tour (admission price only) runs twice a day at 1.00Pm and 4.00pm daily Monday to Sunday. The tour takes 1.5 hours and guides you through the inner castle, the archaeological site and the permanent exhibitions.
Facilities: cafe, restaurant and toilets
Pro’s for family travel:
Our Girls loved climbing the castle walls and exploring the lookout towers that are scattered throughout the complex. The old cannons will interest some kids who will love climbing on them and pretending they are shooting the ships in the harbor. The cafe area is excellent for a drink and you will find peacocks roaming around the area. The peacocks will happily wander between the table’s. Our girls loved this, animals are their thing. Fantastic opportunity for family photo’s overlooking Lisbon, make a memory.
Cons for family travel:
The castle sits up on a hill so access is by walking can be a struggle for little kids and parents with pushers and strollers. Prepare for complaining and moaning. Much of the castle grounds is cobble stones which pose a problem for easy strolling for parents with pushers for the young ones.
How to reach Castelo St Jorge:
It is a short distance for Avenida da Liberdade. From Rossie Square its a 1.2 km walk to Castelo St George. The smart route will take you via the Baixa -Castelo lift which is located next to the Baixa-Chiado metro station The lift is free and will cut out some of the distance and uphill
walking that is required the reach the Castelo.
Where to stay: Lisbon Centre Historic Apartments
Where to eat: Try Square Lago Do Carmo
For the original article visit Mark Wyld’s blog, article: Castelo St George Lisbon Portugal – Family Travel Guide