Castle of the Moors

Built between the 8th and 9th centuries, this military outpost in Sintra played a key role in the Reconquista against Arab rule.

TravelCurious Tip

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.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
This municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vast 19th century Romanic monuments.
Pena Palace
Standing boldly atop a hill above Sintra, this beautiful palace can be seen all the way from Lisbon on a clear day.
Sintra City Hall
An unusually flamboyant town hall, and one of the most prominent landmarks in the town of Sintra.
Sintra National Palace
A striking and eclectic mix of architectural styles, this is most likely the best preserved medieval palace in all of Portugal.
Monserrate Palace
The traditional summer resort of the Portuguese Royal Family.
Quinta da Regaleira
This romantic UNESCO World Heritage Site displays the wealth and extravagance of the Portuguese elite.

Related Tours

Discover the Wonders of Sintra with skip the line tickets from Lisbon
Visit Sintra, one of Portugal’s most magical UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for hilltop castles and fairytale palaces set in the forested hills near Lisbon.
  • Tour the turreted, Romanticist Pena Palace, perched on a dramatic hilltop
  • Visit a Moorish castle which served as a military outpost in the 9th century Reconquista
  • Stroll around the lake-dotted secret gardens at the Quinta da Regaleira Palace
  • Explore Queluz National Palace, the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family
  • Take in spectacular sea views from Cabo da Roca (Cape Rock), the westernmost point of mainland Europe
Fairytale Sintra
The ancient city of Sintra may lie just half an hour from Lisbon, but its forest-covered mountains feel a world away from the frenetic capital. A cooler climate and lush landscapes have drawn Portugal’s rich and powerful here for over a thousand years and it even served as a summer retreat for the Royal Family. Hence, the hills are dotted with extravagant Moorish castles, fortresses and Romanticist palaces, which you’ll explore the very best of on this guided tour.
Royal Pleasure and Military Might
Take guided tours of some of Sintra’s most famous monuments. You’ll start at Pena Palace, a yellow and orange Romanticist wonder complete with domes and turrets, watchtowers and drawbridge. The Castle of the Moors, a 9th century military outpost, was a key site during the Reconquista and today, you can wander the remains of its walls for incredible views of the region and Pena Palace.
Tour the Regaleira Ranch, a grand house built by a wealthy resident in 1892, which is most famous for its quirky garden structures, from fountains to sculptures and the inverted tower. This spirals down 27 metres to spectacular underground tunnels. You’ll also get the chance to visit the Queluz National Palace, which presents one of Europe’s finest examples of Rococo architecture and was the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family before the French invasion of 1807, when they fled to Brazil.
To marvel at one of Sintra’s most spectacular viewpoints, you’ll visitCape Rock, the westernmost point of both Portugal and continental Europe. From this dramatic cape, you’ll get panoramic sea views from windswept cliffs. Before leaving the magical hills of Sintra, you’ll make final photo stops at both Monserrate Palace.

You could spend weeks exploring Sintra’s hilltop treasures but if you haven’t got time for that, this tour showcases the best of its castles, viewpoints and decorative palaces. 


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