Almourol Castle rises imposingly 18 meters above the river level, on a small granite islet, planted in the middle of the Tagus River. No one can pinpoint the date of its construction (probably 9th or 10th century). What is known is that this is an extraordinary fortification 310 meters long and 75 meters wide. An outstanding example of military architecture, which captivates both for its history and its legends, framed by the charm of the natural surroundings.
It is located in Vila Nova da Barquinha, which belongs to the municipality of Santarém, in Ribatejo. The boat ride, which is mandatory to get to the castle, starts right away by involving you in the mystery and dominance of the fortress. For those with children, a small adventure begins here. There are many castles to visit in Portugal, each with its own charm, but Almourol is without a doubt, more than a visit, an experience you will remember forever!
WHERE IS ALMOUROL CASTLE?
If you leave Lisbon by car, you’ll get to Almourol Castle in about 1h27 (134 kilometers). However, if you have time, you can make a longer stop in Santarém, a city of many charms, from history to gastronomy. So that you don’t get lost along the way, you can get the GPS coordinates: 08º23’02.301”W – 39º27’43.126”N
OTHER OPTIONS TO GO TO ALMOUROL CASTLE
You can also choose to go by train, leaving from the picturesque Santa Apolónia station in Lisbon by the river. You will finish the journey at Almourol station and, in a 15-minute ride, you will arrive at the Castle. If this is your choice, pay attention to timetables and prices. The shortest and cheapest trip is on the Regional train. Depending on the timetable, it can last 1h23 and cost just €9.50. However, the supply of trains is diverse, it varies depending on the time and type of train. Between the Inter-regional train and the Alfa Pendular the trip can last from 1h14 to 2h52 and prices from €9.50 to €25.40. The best thing is to plan ahead!
VISIT THE ALMOUROL CASTLE
The visit to Almourol Castle is done in groups between 15 and 50 people. The tour lasts 120 minutes and includes a guided tour of the castle. You can choose to include a meal in your tour. To book your tour you can use the following contacts: 249 711 550 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The crossings take place from Tuesday to Sunday. From February 1st to 28th: from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. From March 1st to October 31st: from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2:30 pm to 7 pm.
INSIDE ALMOUROL CASTLE
Inside the castle, be prepared for very winding paths and a multitude of staircases (the tour is not recommended for people with reduced mobility).
COMPLEMENT YOUR VISIT TO ALMOUROL CASTLE
TEMPLAR INTERPRETATION CENTER OF ALMOUROL
If the Order of the Knights Templar intrigues you, after visiting the castle, take the opportunity to visit the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol in Vila Nova da Barquinha. Besides the permanent exhibition, it also has temporary exhibitions and a room where films about the Templars are projected.
To get to the Interpretation Center, you can take the train at Almourol station and get off at the next station, Barquinha. It is a short 6 minutes trip. There is also the option of walking trails, but if you go in summer, be prepared for the well-known Ribatejo heat. It is open every day, with a closing time at lunchtime.
LIBRARY – TEMPLAR CASTLE ARCHIVE
The Interpretation Center appeals to the curiosity of visitors, so those who want to know more about the Templars, in the same building as the Center, can also linger in the Templar Library-Archive. Access to the library is available from Monday to Friday.
HISTORY OF ALMOUROL CASTLE
At the beginning of the foundation of the kingdom of Portugal, during the Christian reconquests in 1129, D. Afonso Henriques, who would become the first king of Portugal, conquered Almourol Castle from the Moors. At that date the castle was called “Almorolan” which meant “big stone”. This conquest was very important both militarily and from the point of view of commercial control between different areas of Lisbon. King Afonso Henriques donated Almourol Castle to the Knights Templar, as their help was fundamental in the Christian reconquest.
It was a strategic point for the defense of the region. It was rebuilt in 1171 and was part of the then famous Tejo Line, together with the castles of Zêzere, Cardiga and Tomar. All these castles were given to the Templars, under the tutelage of their Master, Gualdim Pais.
After the extinction of the Templar Order (1311), Almourol Castle, as well as all the Templar possessions, was entrusted to the Order of Christ. Over the centuries the castle fell into oblivion and was abandoned. It was recovered in the 19th century and gained the physiognomy that we can still admire today. In 1910 it was classified as a National Monument and during the Estado Novo it was the official residence of the republic. As time went by the monument lost its defensive importance but never lost its beauty and mysticism! An experience not to be missed!
VIRTUAL TOUR TO ALMOUROL CASTLE
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR ALMOUROL CASTLE?
Almourol Castle can be visited in a morning or in an afternoon. To make your tour more complete, we suggest that you complement your visit with at least one of the following suggestions. To help you plan, we have prepared a map. We hope you find it useful!
Do castelo de Almourol à Quinta da Cardiga distam 6 quilómetros, uma distância que se percorre em 8 minutos de carro. O Castelo da Cardiga é agora a Quinta da Cardiga. No seu interior vai encontrar um palácio, muita natureza e muitos locais perfeitos para fazer caminhadas retemperadoras. Perfeito para descansar. Pode também pernoitar por lá e descobrir os seus encantos históricos e arquitetónicos.
Only 6 kilometers separate Almourol castle from Vila Nova da Barquinha. A village bathed by the river Tejo and that owes its existence to it because in the past it was a transportation route for essential goods. A perfect destination to spend a weekend! The main attractions of Vila Nova da Barquinha are: the Almourol castle, the contemporary sculpture park, the interpretation center of the Almourol Templars, the main church of Atalaia and the public art in some building facades.
Although Almourol Castle is the most famous attraction in Vila Nova da Barquinha, Barquinha Park is also worth a visit. After visiting the medieval castle and the mysterious Templars, a few meters away from the Templar Interpretation Center, you will find this extraordinary park. It will be a trip back in time, from medieval romanticism to the beauty of contemporary sculpture. It is a seven-hectare park, where works of contemporary Portuguese sculpture are displayed outdoors, from the 1960s to the present day. This visit is absolutely amazing, not only for the quality of the sculpture set, but for the space itself, which has even received the National Landscape Architecture Award.
From Almourol Castle to Tomar is 32 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 27 minutes. The city founded by the Templars (a brotherhood of warrior-monks from Burgundy and France), is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. It is small and 2 days are enough to see calmly the most important things there are to know. To visit Tomar is also to know better the history of our country. If you accept our suggestion, be sure to visit the Convent of Christ, the National Forest of the 7 Hills, the Republic Square, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, the synagogue, and the old Jewish quarter.
RESTAURANTS NEAR ALMOUROL CASTLE
If you accepted our suggestions, after so many walks and so much knowledge, you’re probably already hungry. If so, follow our recommendation and go to “restaurante ribeirinho”, the establishment that has the best price/quality ratio in the online ratings.
It is in Vila Nova da Barquinha just 8 minutes drive from Almourol castle. It’s a cheap restaurant (only 1 dollar), has over 470 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.4 stars (out of a maximum of 5). The compliments insist on the friendliness of the staff, the pleasant decoration of the space and the quality of the food. Highlights include the sirloin steak and the lamprey rice.