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

Olha Tikhonova (5 months ago)
Free entrance. Beautiful views towards the city and towards the Spanish border.
Clara Correia (6 months 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 (2 years ago)
Lovely place!!
Paula Gomez (3 years ago)
Wonderful, lets hope a hotel takes the concession to reopen. Beautiful!
Fly Soar (3 years ago)
Walk and imagine times gone by ... Google for quick history and walking footwear rather than platforms ladies... Just saying... Recommend
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Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.