Sintra is significantly cooler than Lisbon, and the Castle of the Moors is fairly elevated and windy, so be sure to bring extra clothes, even if it’s midsummer!
The Castle of the Moors is a medieval hilltop stronghold that played an important role during the ‘Reconquista’, when Christian forces sought to seize the Iberian peninsula from the Moors. It is an ancient site, built during the 8th and 9th centuries, and though its military importance has steadily dwindled over the centuries since, it has more recently been rejuvenated as a treat for both the mind and the eye, with its romantic ruins of historical interest.
A Daunting Prospect
Found on top of the Sintra mountains, 412 metres above sea level, when the clouds part the castle offers a breathtaking panoramic view over the municipality of Sintra. It must have been an imposing fortification in its time, with its double line of military walls spread along a 450 metre granite perimeter atop the mountain. Beyond the thick battlements is the castle itself, protected by towers and turrets punctuated by slits for arrows, like underscores.
The Road Not Taken
Sintra can get busy, and the Castle of the Moors is one of its foremost attractions, so an early morning trip is the best way to to enjoy it for yourself. Note that the best walking route from Sintra is not along the main road, but rather the quicker and partly off-road route via Rua Marechal Saldanha. Be warned that this trail is quite steep and needs a decent pair of shoes, but it is quieter and extremely rewarding.
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