Sao Jorge Castle

Sao Jorge Castle 400
Castle of Saint George up on a hill above Lisbon
Photo by: Bernt Rostad, Creative Commons

Saint George Castle or Castle of Sao Jorge has a captivating aura, a structure you can practically see from anywhere in the city. It is located in the highest hill of Lisbon and enjoys a clear view of the river. This was once used as a fortress, but these days, it is home to many families and a famous destination for the visitor.

Taken from the Moors, who used it as a royal residence until 1147, Castle of Sao Jorge covers an area about 6000 square meters wide with a number of towers. King Alfonso Henriquez was the one who won this castle with the help of the crusaders. They were on their way then to the Holy Land. When it was conquered, it was dedicated to the patron saint of England, Saint George, commemorating the 1371 Anglo-Portuguese pact. Thus its name became Saint George Castle. It became the royal palace until the 1755 earthquake destroyed it.

Part of the old royal palace and the São João de Deus Hospital weren’t reconstructed at all, or were partially done only towards the end of the 20th century. The Royal Palace people know these days is not the exact reproduction of what it was before. It is more of the result of the most important influences from the various ages that molded it.

Past the main gate of Castle of Sao Jorge is the statue of King Alfonso Henriquez and a string of cannons which remind the visitors of the castle’s original function. The former Alcacovas Palace where the kings of the middle ages lived is now a stone building housing a restaurant. One thing visitors should not miss here is the brilliant multimedia exhibit about Lisbon’s history called Olissiponia. Images are projected on a ten-foot wall with narration, giving people an overview of the story behind the famous city they are in. It also contains the simulation of the great earthquake and the tidal wave in the city harbor.

Next time you plan your travel destination, why not choose to set your feet on the Castle of Sao Jorge and enjoy the view of historical Lisbon.

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