Castles and fortifications in Portugal

São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon. Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Belém Tower

Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. The tower was built around 1514 by Francisco de Arruda and is ...
Founded: 1514 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Castle of the Moors

The Castle of the Moors is a hilltop medieval castle built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. It was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. It is classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the second half of the 12th century, the chapel constructed within the walls ...
Founded: 8th century | Location: Sintra, Portugal

Braga Castle

Castle of Braga is a historical fortification and defensive line encircling the city of Braga. While, in fact, the only remains of this structure are the various gates and towers along its perimeter, the main keep tower, located in the civil parish of São João do Souto, is the only true remnant of the medieval castle. The oldest walls were built during the Roman age in the 2nd century AD. Although reliable inform ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Braga, Portugal

Guimarães Castle

The Castle of Guimarães was built under the orders of Mumadona Dias in the 10th century to defend the monastery from attacks by Moors and Norsemen. At the end of the 11th century the castle was heavily expanded and remodeled, under the direction of Count Henry, to act as his residence. The castle became the official royal residence from 1139, when Portugal became independent from the Kingdom of León, until circa 1200.  ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Guimarães, Portugal

João Baptista da Foz Fortress

The Fortress San João Baptista da Foz do Douro was built in the late sixteenth century to better protect the coast and the mouth of the Douro River. The monument is occupied today by the Regional Delegation of the Institute of National Defense. It is a fine example of military architecture. The original basic structure was enhanced with more recent bulwarks. The Lawn Tennis Club da Foz is located at the foot of the Fort. ...
Founded: 1570 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Vila Nova de Cerveira Castle

The Castle of Vila Nova de Cerveira was referred in the early 13th century and it is suggested that the castle was merely a defensive tower. It was enlarged by King Denis of Portugal in the 1320s and the barbican was constructed under the reigns of King Fernando or King D. João I in 14-15th centuries. The construction of the 16th century fortress was resulted from the fear of Spanish threats from across the border durin ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal

Caminha Castle

With medieval characteristics, Caminha castle was built on military foundations of the 4th and 5th centuries. The defences were reinforced and expanded during the Christian Reconquest. During conflicts with Castile, its settlement and defense were encouraged under the reigns of King Afonso III (1248-1279), King Denis (1279-1325) and John I (1385-1433), due to the strategic value that this lindeira town represented for ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Caminha, Portugal

Lindoso Castle

The Castle of Lindoso is a medieval castle in the civil parish of Lindoso, municipality of Ponte da Barca. Little is known of the early era. It is believed the fortress was started under the 13th century reign of Afonso III of Portugal, entered in strengthening efforts of the defensive system of borders, undertaken by that ruler. During the time of the Restoration of Portuguese independence, the castle and its location ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ponte da Barca, Portugal

Melgaço Castle

As the main defense of the crossing of the Alto Minho river to Galicia, The Castle of Melgaço constitutes the most northern sentry point in Portugal from the twelfth century. The construction of the castle dates back to 1170 by order of the first King of Portugal Afonso Henriques (1112–1185). He granted a Foral charter to the town at the same time, encouraging the development of the town. Afonso III (1248–1279 ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Melgaço, Portugal

Santiago da Barra Fortress

Located next to the sea, it is believed that the first fortification sited on the bar of the River Lima estuary dates from the reign of King Afonso III (13th century). However, the earliest certain date is the 15th century, when a fortress was built there that would have been completed in the following century, in the reign of King Manuel I. This is indicated by various Manueline architectural features, notably the ' ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Forte da Lagarteira

The Fort of Lagarteira (Forte de Âncora/Forte da Lagarteira) was probably constructed between 1640 and 1668, during the Restoration Wars to protect the Portuguese coast from Spanish attacks. Its structure followed the models established in the era for the construction of fortresses implanted along the Alto Minho area, which was an advance in military defensive fortifications. Engineer Bastos Moreira cites 1690 as the dat ...
Founded: 1640-1668 | Location: Caminha, Portugal

Castro Laboreiro Castle

The Castle of Castro Laboreiro (Castelo de Castro Laboreiro) is located in the civil parish of Castro Laboreiro, in the municipality of Melgaço. It is the ruins of a Romanesque castle with a belt of walls around a central keep with a cistern. In the 9th century, Alfonso III of Asturias, donated the settlement of Castro Laboreiro and the castro to Count Hermenegildo, grandfather of Saint Rudesind, for his defeat of the V ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Melgaço, Portugal

Lanhoso Castle

The Castle of Lanhoso is located in civil parish of Póvoa de Lanhoso. The site on top of the mount had been occupied since the Chalcolithic period. Between the 10th and 11th century, the castle existed as a series of walls and corners. Between 1071 and 1091 Bishop D. Pedro, whose episcopate lasted between 1070 and 1091, supported the reconstruction of the castle's ashlar walls, over the pre-Romanic fortress, that origi ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Póvoa de Lanhoso, Portugal

Monção Castle

The Castle of Monção was built by King Denis of Portugal in 1306 and it was enlarged in 1656. From the original castle, the only remains are two doors, some pieces of the medieval wall, and the Torre de Lapela Towers, which shows off the coast of arms of King Ferdinand I. From the walls, the only remain is the main door, defended by the Keep, with a Gothic style; and the treachery door, with a smaller size. From the 1 ...
Founded: 1306 | Location: Monção, Portugal

Torre de Lapela

The Torre of Lapela is a ruined medieval castle located next to the Minho River in the town of Lapela, in Monção municipality. One tower is all that remains of the Castle of Lapela, which was situated a few kilometers downstream from the Castle of Monção, which defended the ford of the Minho. The historians attribute its foundation to Lourenço Gonçalves de Abreu, lord of Merufe, Sanfins, Lapela, Barbeita, Regalados ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Monção, Portugal

Arnóia Castle

The Castle of Arnóia is a medieval castle in civil parish of Arnóia, municipality of Celorico de Basto, the district of Braga. It was built in the late 11th or early 12th century, probably to defend the local monastery. The abandonment occurred from 1717, when elites left the small village of Basto, moving the seat of the county to the parish of Britelo, where today is located Celorico de Basto.  Today there are four ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Celorico de Basto, Portugal

 Curutelo Castle

The Curutelo Castle is a well-preserved medieval castle located in the civil parish of Ardegão, in the municipality of Ponte de Lima.  There are many interpretations as to the construction of the palace of Curutelo. Félix Machado, in his notes on the nobility of the Count of São Pedro, stated that the structure existed during the time of Ferdinand I of León who conquered Coimbra from the Moors, and gave it to Nuno N ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Ponte de Lima, Portugal

Faria Castle

The site of Faria castle has been occupied by a long human presence beginning in the 3rd or 2nd millennium BCE. There are vestiges of the late Bronze Age settlement, that continued until the late Roman era. In the Middle Ages, buildings at the top of the hill were adapted as a castle for the Terra de Faria, a period of notable bellicose and symbolic importance in the Entre-Douro-e-Minho, during the early Middle Ages. Fa ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Barcelos, Portugal

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Walled city of Jajce

The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.

The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.


The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.

Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.

The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.

Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.

During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.

Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.


The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.