Where We Be
|Castle of the Moors -- Sintra, Portugal
After touring Pena Palace top to bottom, we
headed over to the Castle of the Moors. It's a
relatively short walk between these two block-
buster attractions. Since both are located high
in the hills above Sintra, most people combine
seeing them on the same day. The castle was
built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries.
We were intrigued to hear that, as far back as
1108, the King of Norway, Sigurd I, caught sight
of the castle from the sea and pulled into port
specifically to visit it. So even in the 1100's the
castle was a tourist attraction.
You can see the castle from the town of Sintra
itself -- an inspiring sight. Perhaps even more
inspiring is the panoramic views from atop the
castle walls. Pena Palace is clearly visible atop
a nearby hill, and the town of Sintra is spread
out below, nestled in its valley. We climbed all
over the walls (prepare for lots of steps!),
visited the castle keep, poked into the round
turrets, and got heavily buffeted by the strong
winds at that elevation. The fluttering pennants
looked like they might tear off at any minute.
|The Castle of the Moors is visible almost everywhere you go
in Sintra since it's perched atop the highest hill above town
|This wider angle shows how the
castle walls wrap over two hillsides
|This is exactly what we have in mind when we think of a castle: crennelated
walls, tall towers with fluttering pennants, and an impregnable location
|Because it's visible right from town, we got the chance to see
the castle under different weather conditions just by looking up
|This is the view of the Castle
of the Moors from Pena Palace
|One can imagine how King Sigurd I from Norway caught sight of this castle from the
ocean back in 1108 and commanded his ship to pull into port for a closer look
|This photo gives a good sense of just how far the castle
walls extend -- you definitely get a workout exploring them.
|A pleasant trail leads between Pena Palace and the Castle
of the Moors. Along the way you pass this old guard tower.
|We hiked up steep stairs to the ruins of the castle keep. The pennant
looked like it might tear off at any minute it was so windy up here.
|After the Christian reconquest of Lisbon in 1147, the Moors surrendered the castle
voluntarily -- and we'll bet the Christians were glad not to have to try taking it by force!
|This might almost be mistaken for a section of the Great Wall
in China the way it climbs up and down steep slopes
|The views from this high up are almost aerial. Directly below
is Sintra, and out on the horizon is the Atlantic Ocean.
|The ornate facade of the villa of Quinta
da Regaleira is also visible from up here
|We climbed up and down all the walls, clambered up every tower,
and generally exhausted ourselves in the most fun way possible
|We also got buffeted by the incredibly strong
winds here, but at least it was a sunny day
|As we neared the end of our explorations we were
treated to some fine views of Pena Palace "next door"
|Now all that was left was the long
walk downhill back to Sintra