Almourol Castle

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Almourol Castle

Almourol Castle is a massive medieval fortress, situated on a small rocky island of the same name in the middle of the river Tejo in Portugal. The castle is one of the biggest attractions in this part of Central Portugal. It stands alone on the island between the villages of Vila Nova to Barquinha and to Ribateyo Praia and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful castles and authentic.

There are no scientific justifications exactly where the name, Almourol, originates, making it difficult to explain what it means. The most widely accepted theory is that the name comes from the Arabic word almoran, which translates as, high stone. This hypothesis is quite tenable given the location of Almourol Castle as it is built of massive granite blocks 18 meters above the ground.

The dimensions of Almourol reaches 310 meters long, 75 meters wide and its highest parts reaching 18 m in height. The first information about the fortress is associated with Roman times, when a stranger seized the Portuguese territory in 1129 and Almoral already existed under this name as a fortification. Excavations around the palace have revealed many artifacts dating from the Roman period, that being mainly coins and various medieval medals.

During the reign of Alfonso I, Almourol was in possession of the Moors during the period of Reconquista, later the castle played a key role in the control of trade routes for oil, wheat, pork, fruit and timber between different regions in Lisbon.

Almourol

A little later the strategic placement of Almourol Castle fell into the hands of the Knights Templar. At that time they had a responsibility to protect the ancient capital – Coimbra. Templar shed a lot of work and means to strengthen the castle and as a result of their work it Almourol Castle remains to this day. On the main gate of the palace appears a plaque which tells it was completed in 1171 - just two years after the construction of the castle in Tomar. These two castles are distinguished by their similar structures of quadrangular design with massive and high defensive walls and nine observation towers.

In the 20th century, Almourol Castle was adapted as a state residence. It was basically restored between 1940 and 1950. The palace is currently owned by the MoD in Portugal.

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