Castle of the Moors (Portugal)
Moors Castle is a ruined castle located amidst lush forests of the Serra de Sintra, and is a popular tourist attraction of Sintra. The Moorish Castle was established in the North African Moors 9th century to guard the town of Sintra, but fell into disrepair after the Christian conquest of Portugal.
The castle was restored in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II, who transformed it into a romantic ruin and one of the main features of the Pena Palace gardens. The castle retains the charm of an ancient ruin, dense forest that surrounds the crumbling battlements that offer spectacular views of the Sintra region. The Moorish Castle is highly recommended attraction in Sintra and is very different from other palaces and mansions of the city.
The origins of the castle date back to the 8th century and the invasion of the Muslim Moors from North Africa. The position of the Moorish Castle was chosen as it provided an appropriate point of view of the river Tagus and offered protection to the town of Sintra. Detailed Arab chronicles the Sintra region was very rich in cultivated fields and the Moorish Castle was one of the most important castles in the region, even more important that the Lisbon castle.
An early Christian crusade, led by King Alfonso VI of Castile, has captured the castle in 1093, but the limited forces expelled the following year. The castle flourished between the first and the second Christian crusade and this was considered as the highest point of the castle history.
The fortifications of the Moorish Castle have been greatly improved, but were not sufficient to reject the second much larger Christian crusade in 1147. This crusading army was comprised of drunks and thieves, that's about freeing Lisbon promptly sacked the capital. The first Portuguese king strengthened the Moors defended castles but the royal court favored Lisbon.
The meaning and importance of the castle Sintra reduced over the centuries and the 15th century the Jewish settlers were the only inhabitants. When the Jews were expelled from Portugal, the castle was completely abandoned. In 1636 lightning caused a massive fire that destroyed the central tower, while in 1755 the devastating earthquake leveled most of the walls and battlements. The Moors castle in this era was so insignificant that it was not even considered in the plans of reconstruction after the earthquake.
The Moorish Castle was destined to be forgotten and permanently ruined. That was until King Ferdinand II transformed the entire region of Sintra. Ferdinand II was a king obsessed with art, theater and the good life - has romanticized the Middle Ages and has ordered the reconstruction of the castle. The castle was rebuilt in order to be seen by his beloved Pena Palace, while the grounds were designed for areas for contemplation and relaxation. His vision is what tourists are able to explore during their visit.