Vila Nova de Cerveira Castle

Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal

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 during the Restoration Wars, and was included in a line of defenses along the Minho River and Atlantic coast. On 25 September 1643, forces of Cerveira resisted attacks by troops loyal to King Philip IV of Spain. Following these events, in 1650, the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda was constructed over the barbican. With the continued need to defend the territory, the 7th Viscount of Vila Nova de Cerveira ordered that the settlement be circled with walls, bartizans and four interior bastions. In addition a half bastian and three smaller redoubts were established along the river. The courtyard had three gates: the Campanha Gate, the Church Gate, Nova Gate and Rio Gate. These public works were complete in 1667, under the direction of Field Marshall Francisco Azevedo, supported with the royal taxation on water and fife from the settlers.

In 1809, with the defense organized by the Colonel Gonçalo Coelho de Araújo, the military square resisted Napoleon's Second Invasion during the Second Invasion Peninsular Wars, under the command of Nicolau Jean de Dieu Soult. They were successful in impeding their crossing the river.

The growth in the local economy and need to support the growing population meant that the keep tower was demolished in 1844, and the following year the Afonsino tower, were partially destroyed to build other structures. Between 1845 and 1846, the wall's gates began to slowly be destroyed. With this slow deterioration, the castle slowly lost its importance, resulting in the 1875 authorization to demolish the fortress. The earliest attempt to recover importance of the castle began in 1905, with work done to repair wall cracks.


The castle is situated in an urban context, addorsed and distinct on the right bank of the Minho River, over a small portion of the wall, that extends along the border of the city. Its interiors are occupied by constructions adapted for their use as hostel, including its restaurant which is distinctly different then the surrounding classified structure.

The castle has an oval plan, formed with 8 rectangular towers and a line of walls, and integrated into the São Miguel bastion over the river and barbican oriented towards the town. Access to the rounded, barbican gate includes access to the rectangular body integrated with the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda. Below this space is the wall, creating an elbow. The frontispiece of the chapel has granite cornerstone, with rectangular pediment and a second floor doorway with interrupted frontispiece and varanda.

The barbican continues towards the east, with circling walls and angular extensions, then tower followed by visible wall. Entrance to the castle occurs a double gate: a wall between the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda and tower, surmounted by coat-of-arms and sections of a former balcony; the second is above the tower, through a double vain, surmounted by the coat-of-arms of Portugal. Between this tower and the Church of the Misericórdia is a latrine encircled by two cantilevers.

The interior courtyard is encircled by battlements accessed by stone staircases. The visible towers, some with, others without crowns are of different heights, with protruding parapets to the west. The bastion, framed with exterior stone, is accessible by a small 'traitors' gate alongside a cistern. Among many of the buildings constructed inside the walls are the old residence of the governor, municipal seat, pillory, jail, barracks and storerooms, along with the Church of the Misericórida.



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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Portugal

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nicolas Merrakchi (23 months ago)
You can climb the wall and enjoy a beautiful sunset with view on the river
Olha Tikhonova (2 years ago)
Free entrance. Beautiful views towards the city and towards the Spanish border.
Clara Correia (2 years ago)
Lovely walk along the walls of the castle or along the top for a fantastic view over the Town and the river Milho. If it is Saturday there is a flea market next door with the usual flea market stuff. The inside of the castle was/is a guest house with event halls available.
Paula O (3 years ago)
Lovely place!!
Paula Gomez (4 years ago)
Wonderful, lets hope a hotel takes the concession to reopen. Beautiful!
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