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  • Writer's pictureCarlos

Almourol Castle: A Templar Gem on the Tagus River

The Castle
The Castle

Imagine a majestic templar castle rising from the heart of the Tagus River, its imposing silhouette a testament to a bygone era.

This is Almourol Castle, a captivating gem in Portugal, whispering tales of medieval battles, valiant knights, and the relentless flow of history.

Steeped in history and embraced by the Tagus, Almourol Castle beckons travelers seeking a glimpse into Portugal's glorious past.

View from the Castle to the river
View from the Castle to the river

A Fortified Past

Almourol's story stretches back centuries.

While its exact origins remain shrouded in some mystery, archaeological evidence suggests the islet upon which it stands may have been a pre-Roman Lusitanian castro (fortified settlement) and later a Roman fort.

In 1129, the castle was captured from the Moors by Christian forces, marking a pivotal moment in the Reconquista, the Christian retaking of the Iberian Peninsula.

Interior of the Castle
Interior of the Castle

The Embrace of the Templars

Following its capture, Almourol was entrusted to Gualdim Pais, the formidable Grand Master of the Knights Templar in Portugal, around 1129.

Recognizing its strategic importance, the Templars meticulously reinforced the castle. They bolstered its defenses with thick walls, a central keep, and a formidable drawbridge, transforming Almourol into a crucial sentinel guarding the Tagus River.

Under Templar control, Almourol became an integral part of their defensive network, playing a vital role in securing Portugal's borders during the Reconquista.

The river and the castle
The river and the castle

A Tapestry Woven with the Tagus River

The Tagus River is not merely a backdrop for Almourol Castle; it's an integral part of its story.

The river acted as a natural moat, hindering attackers and enhancing the castle's impregnability.

The water level of the Tagus even influences the visitor experience. During high water periods, boat tours become the primary mode of access, offering a unique perspective of the castle rising from the river's embrace.

When water levels recede, a narrow causeway emerges, allowing visitors to walk across and enter the castle directly.

A Haven for Visitors

Recognized for its historical significance, Almourol Castle was classified as a National Monument of Portugal in 1910.

Today, it stands as a testament to Portugal's rich heritage, welcoming visitors eager to explore its imposing walls and delve into its fascinating past.

The castle is accessible by scenic boat tours departing from the nearby village of Ponte da Barca.

Guided tours are available, allowing visitors to explore the castle's interior chambers, the imposing keep, and learn about the intriguing stories etched within its stones.

Tancos - Vila Nova da Barquinha
Tancos - Vila Nova da Barquinha

Beyond the Castle Walls

A visit to Almourol is not complete without exploring the charming villages that dot the landscape around the castle.

Vila Nova da Barquinha, a short distance away, offers a delightful escape with its traditional Portuguese architecture, local shops, and delectable cuisine.

Here, visitors can savor a taste of Portuguese culture and immerse themselves in the warmth of its people.

Planning Your Visit

Almourol Castle is open to the public year-round, with opening hours and ticket prices readily available online.

Guided tours are highly recommended, offering insightful commentary and unlocking the castle's hidden stories.

While the castle can be visited throughout the year, the spring and fall months offer pleasant weather conditions.

If you seek a truly unique experience, consider visiting during high water when boat tours provide a captivating perspective of the castle rising from the Tagus.

The Castle
The Castle


Almourol Castle is more than just a historical landmark; it's a portal to a bygone era. Standing sentinel over the Tagus River, it embodies the spirit of the Knights Templar and whispers tales of Portugal's rich past.

A visit to Almourol promises a captivating journey through history, breathtaking scenery, and a chance to connect with the enduring legacy of a remarkable place.


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