Top 10 Castles in and around Lisbon
Lisbon is prime territory for people like us, devoted castle hunters who long for turrets and palatial grandeur. The moment we arrived in the city, the impressive stone walls of the Moorish Castle San Jorge looming over the city announced we had come to the right place. The capital of Portugal and the surrounding region boast so many extraordinary fortresses, palaces and royal villas that you can literally spend weeks bouncing from one to another. Actually, psycho architecture junkies that we are, we did just that.
What surprised us most was the diversity of what we found. You can literally go to every castle because they are each so unique, so different from one another. We were blown away by the scale of Mafra, a palace we had never even heard of before. And thrilled to discover the underground passages and cave labyrinth of Quinta da Regaleira, a symbologist’s dream. If you are short on time, head straight for Sintra, a beautiful town shrouded in lush forest. Try to devote at least two full days for Parques de Sintra (we spent three) because there is a HUGE amount to see.
Even if you feel like you have seen it all in other parts of Europe, Portugal should provide a few surprises. Stunning chambers lined with colorful tile murals, over-the-top gilded opulence, and Portuguese humor give the castles around Lisbon a unique twist. We are still talking about the faux polar bear rug in the National Palace of Ajuda. There are few people on the planet who have seen more castles and palaces than us, and we found ourselves oohing, ahhing and cracking up the whole time. Don’t forget to hit play on the video above to find out our selection of Portugal’s Top 10 Castles. There’s a little Easter-egg tip for people with a bit extra patience and interest in castles. 😉