The next place that we explore in Sintra is the impressive Castelo dos Mouros – Castle of the Moors.
(NB the picture below is actually part of the Pena Palace estate, it was a left over from a previous post that I didn’t want to leave out!!)
The imposing ruin of the Castle of the Moors forms a commanding presence on the town’s hillside. Its ramparts forming a rugged spine, snaking sinuously across the hillside.
We wind our way upto the castle through a verdant valley dotted with huge boulders.
Then we emerge into the open square of the castle to get our first glimpse of the structure.
Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it was an important strategic point during the Reconquista, and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147.
It is a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle gradually fell into disrepair and was damaged by an earth quake in 1755 and by 1838 the towers were in ruins.
However, in the mid 19th century a restoration project began under the direction of King Ferdinand II as part of his Romanticist designs on Sintra which included the neighbouring Pena Palace.
From the high vantage points there are wonderful panoramic views over the hills of the Serra De Sintra and the plains stretching west to the Atlantic Ocean.
You can also spot the fantastical Pena Palace and enjoy the toy town vista of Sintra below.
There is a fair bit of climbing involved in order to reach the best vantage points but it’s well worth it.
The weathered old stones shimmer under the baking sunshine and vertiginous views beckon from every rampart.
Even though crowds of tourists pour into the castle each day it is still possible to be secluded and alone.
With the breeze blowing in your face and the dizzying drops to the ground below, you certainly feel a little bit of a pioneer as you scale the multitude of steps.