Sintra Castle

Castelo dos Mouros (English: Castle of the Moors) is a castle located in the town of Sintra, Portugal. The Sintra Castle is located on a high hill overlooking the town, being one of its most important tourist attractions. Sintra Castle is part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

As implied by its name, the Sintra Castle is of Moorish origin, but the current building is the result of a romantic renovation carried out in the 19th century. The views from the Sintra Castle walls and towers are breathtaking. The town of Sintra with its royal palace, as well as the Pena National Palace, are all visible from the Sintra Castle - Castle of the Moors.

Originally, the Sintra Castle was built by the Moors, possibly between the 9th and 10th centuries. Arab chronicles depict the Sintra region as being very rich in cultivated fields. The Sintra Castle was one of the most important in the surroundings.

In 1109, the Sintra Castle became subject to an attack by crusading Norwegians, lead by King Sigurd I, on their way to the Holy Land. Every man at the Sintra Castle were said to have been killed as they had refused to become christened.
In 1147, after the conquest of Lisbon by King Afonso Henriques, the Moorish garrison of the Sintra Castle surrendered to the Christians without resistance. Afonso Henriques promoted the development of the region by granting a foral (letter of feudal rights) to the inhabitants of Sintra and the Sintra Castle in 1154. During the reign of King Sancho I the Sintra Castle was repaired, as well as the romanesque Church of Saint Peter, (Igreja de São Pedro) inside the Sintra Castle walls.

The decline of the Sintra Castle began in the 15th century, when most of the population settled downhill, in today's old quarter of Sintra. In the 16th century, the Sintra Castle lost all military relevance and was abandoned by its last inhabitants, the Sintra Jews.

In 1830, after a long period of ruin, King Ferdinand II started a profound renovation of the Sintra Castle in the romantic spirit of the time, which saw in the Middle Ages a source of inspiration. The walls and towers of the Sintra Castle were rebuilt, while the Church of Saint Peter was intentionally left in ruins. The Sintra Castle, blended with the vegetation and topography of the hill, gained a fairy-tale, romantic atmosphere.

The Sintra Castle - Castle of the Moors has two walled segments with a total perimeter of 450 metres. The walls of the Sintra Castle at the north segment took advantage of the natural slope of the hill to prevent enemies from approaching the Sintra Castle. Although much restored, the towers of the Sintra Castle seem to be in their original locations. The wall segment of the Sintra Castle with the entrance of the castle has the best preserved walls, in which the medieval building technique can be fully appreciated.

Also near the entrance of the Sintra Castle is located the Romanesque Church of Saint Peter, which dates from the 12th-13th centuries. The small church in the Sintra Castle has no roof, but the apse with its barrel vault is still preserved. In the Sintra Castle, the capitals of the main portal and chapel of the apse are decorated with Romanesque vegetable motifs. The area around the church of the Sintra Castle was excavated and revealed the existence of a medieval cemetery with many tombs.

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