The Moorish Castle is something of a "Great Wall of Sintra"
Built by the Moors up on a mountain in the 9th century, this castle monitored the Lisbon coast and was even more important than St. George’s Castle in Lisbon. It included secret passages and a large cistern, which were vital in case of siege. In medieval times, after the Christian Crusaders reconquered Sintra in 1147, a Romanesque church dedicated to St. Peter of Canaferrim was built within the castle’s walls, and its ruins now house artifacts collected in archaeological excavations, as well as video screens telling the castle’s history.
One of the castle's five turrets
There’s a magnificent panoramic view over Sintra from the ramparts, looking out to Pena Palace and over the Sintra National Palace, Chalet Biester, and Quinta da Regaleira, all the way to the Atlantic coast.
The castle is now also an archaeological site
It’s possible to walk along the fortified stone wall’s 450 meters and climb to the top of the five turrets, erected amid huge boulders.
The castle offers a view of Pena Palace on the opposite hill
It was all greatly affected by a fire caused by a lightning strike in 1636, and then by the Great Earthquake of 1755 which destroyed much of the region, but was restored about a century later, when King Ferdinand built Pena Palace. He opted to leave part of it as a romantic ruin, and it looks like a small “Great Wall of China.”
View over Chalet Biester and Quinta da Regaleira from the Moorish Castle
The Moorish Castle is now a very popular tourist attraction, and is usually visited together with Pena Palace. Both monuments are connected by a bus (see below), but are also within walking distance.
Walking around the walls of the Moorish Castle is a way to see all of Sintra from above
Visiting the Moorish Castle
The opening hours in the spring-summer season are 9:30am to 8pm, and in the autumn-winter season from 10am to 6pm. The last admission is one hour before closing time. A typical visit takes about one hour to 90 minutes.
How to Get to the Moorish Castle
The mountaintop location of the Moorish Castle requires a 13-minute bus journey (unless you’re a fit hiker who doesn’t mind an hour-long climb). That’s bus 434, which departs from outside the train station and also goes up to Pena Palace after stopping by the castle gate. To get to Pena after the castle, walk up the road for just over 10 minutes, or wait for another 434 bus to pass by.
To avoid the bigger crowds at the palace, you may choose to head there first thing in the morning, then walk down to the castle, and hop on the bus back to the center from there.
Admission and Tickets to the Moorish Castle
Admission to the Moorish Castle is €8.00 for adults and €6.50 for children up to the age of 17, as well as for seniors over the age of 65. There's a 15% discount with the Lisboa Card.
It opens every day.