This well preserved military castle is situated on a strategic tiny island in the Tagus river, in the Ribatejo region. Almourol is a place in Vila Nova da Barquinha. The castle is very good conserved with a lot of history and on the place where 2 rivers connects together. In this form, Almourol Castle dates from 1171, but his fundamentals already are from the 3th century. The castle became part of the Ordem dos Templários and finally is restored in the 19th century. This post below is for you, when you want to learn the whole history and why you have to visit this wonderful castle.
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Welcome in the district of Santarém. At the Praia do Ribatejo, in Vila Nova da Barquinha, you’ll find a tiny island in the middle of the Tejo river. An island that measures only 310m x 75m. This houses a wonderful and well preserved castle: The Castle of Almourol.
The strategic location of this tiny island in the Tagus river, near the mouth of the Zêzere river, always was very important. This is the reason why this castle always had a military function to protect the region and old capital of Portugal: Coimbra. It is built on a granite outcrop 18 meters above the water level.
The place of this castle was already owned by different folks, starting from the 3th century: the Alans, the Visigoths and the Moorish people. These last owned the place starting from the 8th century. They already built a fortification and called it Al-morolan (High stone).
During the Christian reconquest on the Iberian Peninsula, the region of the castle was occupied by the Portuguese forces. In 1129, the fortification of Almourol was conquered by D. Afonso Henriques and afterwards was handed over to the Templars (Ordem dos Templários). Because the Templars had the control over the region between the Mondego and Tagus rivers and to protect Coimbra, which was the capital of Portugal in these times. This region was very important for olive oil, wheat, pork meat, fruits and wood.
From now on, it became a castle with the typical characteristics and symbols of the Templa’s. The castle is marked by 9 towers and 1 higher tower in the middle. In the window to the east, there is a Templar cross. These rebuilds ended in 1171, 2 years after the built of the Castle/Convent of Tomar was finished. So, it has equal characteristics, even as the Castles of Idanha, Monsanto, Pombal and Zêzere.
Due to the earthquake of 1755, which destroyed whole Lisboa, also this castle was damaged. After the reconquest and the capital of Portugal moved from Coimbra to Lisboa, this location lost his need of a military strategic point in the region. So, the castle was a little bit forgotten. restorations were needed to bring this castle back to his glory. During the Romanticism period in the 19th century, there were made more changes to the castle. This was to pass light in a more poetic vision.
The Castle of Almourol is part of the Tourism of the Templars, together with the Castle/Convent of Tomar and the Museum in Vila Nova da Barquinha. Starting from 1910 is a National Monument, like a lot of historical buildings in Portugal. Since 2006, it is possible to visit this castle. It is a must do when you are in this region!
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