Portugal Castelo de São Jorge

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
Sitting on the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills is the Castelo de São Jorge, which is dedicated to Saint George, the patron saint of England. The castle was a gift from King Afonso Henriques to his English wife, Philippa.

The fortress was built by the Visigoths during the 5th Century and enlarged by the Moors in the 11th Century (Paço da Alcáçova). It was captured by the Portuguese in 1147 during the Second Crusade and was later transformed into a Royal Palace. The taking of the palace was made possible by a knight throwing his body into an open side gate preventing the Moors from closing the door or so the legend goes.

The castle is where King Manuel I met with Vasco da Gama when he returned with the news he had discovered the maritime route to India in 1498.

The 1755 Earthquake severely damaged the castle. Sections of it were left in ruins but the military continued to be garrisoned on site. In the 1930s, extensive renovations took place—demolishing all the annexes and additions that had been built over the years. What remains of the historical structure is the main walls, several rebuilt rooms, and 18 towers.

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