São Jorge Castle
Many European cities stand a spectacular castle, for example, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, the Prague Castle in the Czech Republic and the Mont Saint-Michel Castle in France. They may not be the royal residence anymore, and have already retired from the country’s defence system. Still, they serve as a symbol of the nation’s glorious past. In Lisbon, you can see São Jorge Castle when you raise your head from basically every corner of the city. Setting high on the hilltop, the castle does its best to guard the capital.
The mountain on which the castle stands was occupied successively by Phoenicians from the Mediterranean, Carthaginians from North Africa, Romans and Moors to serve as the location of fortifications. It was not until the 12th century that Portugal seized the city and turned it to its capital. Since then, the castle stood as a royal residence and a military barrack to defend against the Moors. The São Jorge Castle lost its significance after the erection of the Ribeira Palace. Yet, it has never stopped contributing. Not only was it where the nation’s first geodetic observatory was constructed, but also where “the Casa Pia”, a charitable organisation dedicated to the education of poor children, was established. The way of going up to the castle could be steep. You can either walk up the hill or take a bus. Upon reaching the highest point of the Alfama district, you should definitely take this advantageous location to enjoy the city’s stunning view. There are various gift shops at the castle entrance. Don’t forget to get yourself some lovely souvenirs!