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Paderne Castle (Castelo de Paderne) was originally built as a Moorish stronghold during the period of the Almohad dynasty. While Paderne Castle dates back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the site on which it was constructed has a history which may stretch as far back as Roman times.
In 1248, Paderne Castle was taken from the Moors by the forces of Dom Paio Peres Correia, a commander in the armies of Portuguese King Afonso III.
Now a picturesque reddish-brown ruin, Paderne Castle is one of the seven castles shown on the Portuguese flag.
History of Paderne Castle
The castle sits on a promontory overlooking the Quarteira River, around 10km inland from Albufeira. It is mainly built of Taipa – a mixture of mud, chalk, lime, and aggregate that sets like concrete – and is surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, olive groves, fig and carob trees.
The site was originally used as a Roman settlement, as a military outpost and, eventually, a politico-administrative centre. Indeed, it was strategically important, as it controlled the ancient Roman road Via Lusitanorum which crossed the Quarteira River.
The Roman villa was captured by the Moors by 713, and, concerned by advancing Christian armies in the area, was fortified as part of a wave of military fortification in the Algarve.
In 1189, the castle was captured by armies of King Sancho I with the help of English Christian mercenaries. In 1191, Muslim forces recaptured the castle and surrounding lands.
In 1248, the castle was finally captured by Portuguese forces who massacred all of the inhabitants inside.
Inside is the shell of Nossa Senhora do Castelo, a 14th century chapel which ceased to be of use in 1506 when a new parish church was built in the village.
Paderne Castle remained as an outpost until 1858, at which time it was declared obsolete.
Paderne Castle Today
Today, the castle is occasionally open to visitors – normally around one day a week – with special events and school tours meaning that the gates are sometimes opened. It’s worth checking in Paderne to see if it’s open. Experienced tour guides are recommended to fully make the most of your visit.
Nearby, there is a Roman bridge which crosses the river Quarteria, and is made up of three arches supported by two piers. Views towards the bridge are stunning, as is the natural beauty that frames the site.
Getting to Paderne Castle
Lisbon is the closest major city to the castle. It is around 2 and a half hours away by car, via the A2 road. It’s also around 10km north of Albufeira, and is reachable in around 20-30 minutes by car via Estr. de Paderne/N395.
Developments at Paderne and Beja castles
The tower at Beja castle reopens on July 19th after a €500,000 renovation programme.
The repair and renovation of the Beja castle tower "the highest in Europe" is "a landmark step in the suite of works in progress at this monument," according to the council.
The state of the 183-step tower meant access was barred and in November 2014 a balcony collapsed causing a rapid rethink an acceleration of the maintenance programme with the Alentejo Culture Board appointing a specialist company to carry out the work before more of the structure fell down.
The work involved taking much of the tower structure apart, including balconies and battlements, replacing friable stonework and treating the surface with chemicals before repointing.
The work also involved rebuilding much of the spiral staircase which too had structural problems.
At Paderne castle in the Algarve, a new programme has been launched to make better use of the historic site which is usually closed to the public, much to visitors' irritation having managed to find the right road out of the village and negotiated the track.
‘Discovering the Castle of Paderne’ will run during July and August with the castle opening its gates from 10h00 to 18h00 offering an excellent opportunity to look over the inside of one of the most interesting monuments in the region.
Albufeira council and the Regional Directorate of Culture have opened up the castle and developed enhanced on-site information.
The castle of Paderne is in a strategic point between the coast and the hills between Loulé and Silves. It was built in the twelfth century during the Almohad rule, a period in which the Arabs held a strong defensive system in order to try to stop the expansionist policy of the Christians.
The first written reference for the castle dates to 1189 and the archaeological work that has been carried out shows human occupation dating to the mid-twelfth century.
In the year 1506 the population transferred from inside the castle to the current parish of Paderne when a new church, Nossa Senhora da Esperança, was ready.
Silves castle is now open from 09:00 until 23:00 to encourage evening tourists to a series of music evenings to be held until August 3rd.
Top 36 Historical Attractions in the Algarve
The Algarve is much more than just amazing beaches and great weather. Being part of a country with a proud and long history, the Algarve is full of remarkable historical attractions which is why we have decided to gather our top 36 historical attractions for your to discover.
Castle of Aljezur
The Castle of Aljezur sits in a dominant position over the village and the river of Aljezur. It dates back to the 10 th century, during the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Later, in the 12 th and 13 th centuries, after Christians took back the Algarve, the castle was the target of several renovations with the aim of improving its defensive system. In the 20 th century the fortification underwent restoration works, since it was severely affected by the huge earthquake of 1755.
The Church of São Lourenço de Almancil
The incredibly beautiful church of São Lourenço de Almancil, all covered with tiles, is a one of kind building in the Algarve. Built at the end of the 17th century with an incredible altar all covered in gold.
Igreja Matriz de Alvor
The main church of Alvor, built during the 16 th century, features a Manueline style, which can be seen in the stunning entrance doors adorned with religious symbols and war scenes. In its interior you can observe six golden altars and tiles of the 18 th century.
Igreja da Misericórdia de Alvor
When visiting Igreja da Misericórdia de Alvor do not to forget to pay attention to the details of the pulpit on the left side wall or the spectacular stained glass window that pays homage to the miracle of the roses performed by the Queen Santa Isabel, in which she turned bread into roses. The church was built in the 17 th century and still retains a prominent place in the small village of Alvor.
Castle of Alvor
After conquering the territory of Alvor, the Moors found the village poorly defended, which is why they decided to erect a castle over the ruins of an old commercial centre. Once again proving its incredible capacity to build military structures, Alvor Castle resisted the 1755 earthquake which devastated the town of Alvor almost completely.
Capela de Nossa Senhora da Rocha (Armação de Pêra)
Capela de Nossa Senhora da Rocha stands on a peninsula that towers over the sea giving beautiful views. The chapel itself, small in size, white as the lime of the typical Algarve houses, is charming and begs to be visited. Stroll through the chapel on a sunny and cloudless day and we assure you that you will immediately fall in love with the Algarve.
Capela dos Ossos (Armação de Pêra)
The Bones Chapel, in Alcantarilha, near to Armação de Pêra, constitutes a different attraction with an exotic beauty. Attached to Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the Bones Chapel dates back to the 16th century. Its interior is covered by more than 1500 human bones, which are thought to have belonged to the Jesuits who perished in the region.
Alfanzina Lighthouse (Carvoeiro)
Built in 1920 on a rocky promontory, the Alfanzina Lighthouse, near Carvoeiro Beach, allowed the ships to navigate along the coast and also helped the Algarve fishermen to catch squids at night, by using its light to see where the molluscs hid. The lighthouse is open to the public every Wednesday between 2pm and 5pm.
Forte de São Sebastião (Castro Marim)
During the 17 th century, the entire Algarve was subject to a renovation of its defensive system which resulted in the construction of Forte de São Sebastião de Castro Marim. King Dom João IV, afraid of an eventual Spanish invasion after the Portuguese expelled the Spanish from Portugal in 1640, ordered the construction of a fort near the Spanish border in the year 1641.
Faro Cidade Velha
Faro Cidade Velha (Faro Old Town) constitutes the oldest part of the city and it is still to this day surrounded by the ancient walls built by the Moors in the 9 th century. Access to Vila Adentro, which is a name also used to describe the oldest part of the city, takes place through the imposing Arco da Vila at the top of which stands the patron saint of the city – Saint Thomas Aquinas.
A great way to explore the Old Town is taking a Segway tour of Faro this is an ideal way to travel around the city and great fun for every member of the family.
Cathedral of Faro
The fantastic Faro Cathedral rises high above the Old Town, the original part of Faro. Its construction began in the year 1251, undergoing further enlargements until it reached the size it presents today. The cathedral features a Gothic style and its highlights are the image of Our Lady, together with the fact that it is always surrounded by flowers, and the superb red organ with representations of Chinese culture.
Igreja Matriz São Pedro (Faro)
The Igreja Matriz São Pedro is a beautiful church with richly crafted altars. The church’s golden interiors add an aura of mystique to the entire religious structure, which was severely affected by the 1755 earthquake.
Igreja do Carmo (Faro)
Igreja do Carmo, named for having been built by the Third Order of Our Lady of Monte do Carmo, was erected at the beginning of the 18 th century. Its artistically decorated altar and baroque interior are outstanding. It is at Igreja do Carmo that there is also the famous Chapel of the Bones of Faro.
Bone Chapel (Faro)
After the city’s cemetery was exhausted, it was decided to exhume 1250 bones of monks to build the Bones Chapel of Faro. Inaugurated in 1816, the chapel is now open to the public.
Slave Market Museum (Lagos)
The slave trade was vital for the continuation of the Portuguese overseas expansion, as it financed the caravels of the Portuguese crown. Many of these slaves were first taken to Lagos. From Lagos the slaves were then dispersed throughout the rest of Europe, and Infante Dom Henrique, the main driver of the Portuguese maritime conquests, received a fifth of the selling price of the slaves. The Museum of Slaves of Lagos preserves the memory of one of the darkest periods in Europe through several panels that describe the attempts to integrate these slaves into European society or even their Christian baptisms.
Forte Ponta da Bandeira (Lagos)
Forte Ponta da Bandeira was intended to safeguard the access to the port of Lagos and the eastern part of the city. Lagos, a city which stood very close to the famous nautical school of Sagres, was an important strategic post in the Portuguese overseas domain, which is why the Portuguese crown was so eager to build a new fortress in the area at the end of the 17 th century. The defensive structure is surrounded by a moat and a drawbridge allows access to its interior where we can find a charming chapel decorated with tiles.
Castelo de Lagos
The initial date of the construction of the Castle of Lagos remains a mystery, however it is known that the castle underwent several renovations during the medieval period and until the 17 th century. The construction of this castle, sometimes referred to as the Governors’ Castle, has contributed to making Lagos the most militarily defended city in the Algarve.
Igreja Paroquial de Santa Maria de Lagos
Located in the Plaza Infante Dom Henrique, right in the centre of the city, the church has a symmetrical construction with an elevated main chapel. The construction of this church began in the year of 1498 and there are still masses being celebrated there today. It is definitely worth visiting this beautiful church.
Igreja de Santo António (Lagos)
Igreja de Santo António de Lagos, although discreet and often overlooked, is in fact one of the most beautiful religious monuments in Portugal. With the exception of the ceiling, where the shield of Portugal is displayed, its entire interior is lined with gold. Dom Joao V, fearing that the soldiers stationed in Lagos had nowhere to pray, ordered that a church would be built to serve as a place where soldiers could express their faith.
Igreja de São Sebastião (Lagos)
The church was built in 1325 undergoing further enlargements until it acquired the size it has today, and it was only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the main nave was covered with tiles. It is at Igreja de São Sebastião that there is the terrifying Chapel of the Bones of Lagos.
Discoveries Wax Museum (Lagos)
Using the latest technologies to make the visit to the museum an informative experience, the Discoveries Wax Museum tells the fantastic story of the Portuguese Discoveries through sixteen different scenes, providing, in addition to the discoveries themselves, an important historical framework such as the Battle of Aljubarrota and the Treaty of Windsor.
Castle of Loulé
The castle’s construction began in the 8 th century, at the time of the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. After the forces of Dom Afonso III took back the town in 1249 the defences of the castle were improved, however insufficiently, since during the crisis of 1383-1385, fearing an attack from Castela, the main tower of the castle was reinforced. The walls of the Castle of Loulé would still be later reinforced during the period of the Discoveries.
Castle of Paderne
It is estimated that Paderne’s Castle was founded by the Almohads (members of Moroccan dynasty) in the second half of the 12 th century. The castle includes a quadrangular tower over 9 metres tall that still exists nowadays. The two cisterns of the castle give testimony to the two periods of occupation of the castle: the Islamic and the Christian.
Igreja Matriz de Portimão
Built on the walled perimeter of Portimão, Igreja Matriz de Portimão was unfortunately severely affected by the 1755 earthquake, being forced to undergo renovations in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. This beautiful church deserves to be visited because of the set of styles that brings together the Baroque, the Rococo and the Manueline, fruit of the several reconstructions that it has undergone over the years. The Late Gothic portal of the entrance, where women and musicians’ statues are visible, was influenced by Mosteiro da Batalha, an influence that can be observed in the rest of the building.
Igreja do Colégio dos Jesuítas (Portimão)
The somewhat extravagant aspect of the exterior of Igreja do Colégio dos Jesuítas, with its yellowish tones, contrasts with its sober interior where we can find the tomb of Diogo Gonçalves. This was the man responsible for the construction of the church. Once, fleeing from a storm at sea, Diogo Gonçalves found refuge in Portimão’s harbour which lead him to order the construction of the church as a way to thank God for his help.
Portimão Museum is a very interesting museum that documents the history of the foundation and development of the city of Portimão. Using the latest technologies to provide an interesting and informative visit, Portimão Museum is a mandatory visit to all those wanting to better understand how society organised itself in Portimão and the Algarve. As a testimony of how committed the museum is to preserving the city’s historical sites, the museum is located in a former Sardine canning factory and includes an exhibition of how the factory used to operate.
Megalithic Monument of Alcalar (Portimão)
About 5000 years ago a prehistoric community decided to settle in Alcalar, near Portimão. There they erected trenches and walls and developed a complex society that has fascinated historians all over the world. The way society was structured can be observed by the megalithic tombs that have survived to this day. These tombs display certain details to identify the death of a chief of the tribe or a particularly prominent member of a family.
Fortaleza de Santa Catarina (Portimão)
Built during a period of Portuguese history that the Portuguese wish to forget, the Philippine dynasty, the purpose of this fortress was to safeguard the Arade River as well as the city of Portimão itself. Currently the fort is not used and is open to the public.
It was from Sagres that the first ships embarked on one of the most important periods of world history: the Discoveries. Being in a strategic location, the port of Sagres was frequently attacked by corsairs, leading to the construction of Sagres Fortress, an imposing military defence structure erected in the Promontory of Sagres. Currently the fortress is open to the public.
Castle of Silves
With the shape of an irregular polygon and surrounded by red sandstone walls, Castelo de Silves is a spectacular military structure with more than a thousand years of existence. Built in a dominant position to watch over the entire city of Silves (former capital of the Algarve) and river Arade, the Castle of Silves is the largest castle in the Algarve. The fact that it resisted the 1755 earthquake that devastated most Portuguese cities is a testament to the quality of the Islamic architecture with which the Moors built the castle. Outside the castle there is a statue of King Dom Sancho who captured Silves from the Arabs in 1189.
A great way of sightseeing the city of Silves is taking a River Cruise from Portimão to Silves.
Museu Municipal de Tavira
This very interesting museum, where is exhibited the famous Vase of Tavira, a unique Islamic object in the world that has even been lent to the Louvre Museum for an exhibition, is divided into several pavilions such as the Islamic Mauseological Centre. This museum aims to promote the history of Tavira among the Portuguese and foreigners who pass through the city every year.
Ponte Romana over River Gilão (Tavira)
Although many historians are reluctant to consider that the bridge is indeed Roman because of the multiple reconstructions that it has been subject to, the truth is that the bridge is already a landmark of the city of Tavira rising above the river Gilão that splits the city in two. It was at the top of this bridge that an important battle happened when Spanish invaders were defeated by Portuguese soldiers during the dynastic crisis of 1383 – 1385.
Castle of Tavira
The Castle of Tavira was built by the Moors between the 9 th and 10 th centuries above the ruins of an ancient Phoenician military fortification of the 8 th century BC. The Castle went under renovations several times over the centuries because of the importance of Tavira to the Portuguese crown and because of the constant battles that Tavira faced, having been constantly disputed by Arabs, Portuguese and Spaniards. In the 19 th century, after an epidemic of cholera decimated much of the population, the castle was used as a cemetery.
Fort of São João da Barra (Tavira)
The construction of the Fort of São João da Barra was due to the War of the Restoration during which the Portuguese expelled the Spaniards from Portugal. Fearing possible reprisals from Spain, Portugal invested a lot of money in military structures placed near the border with Spain. The high point of this fort is undoubtedly the coat-of-arms that can be found in the main arch.
Convento de Nossa Senhora da Graça (Tavira)
After a troubled Arab siege in North Africa was lifted, King Dom Manuel I, as a form of gratitude, ordered the construction of the convent. Becoming disused in 1862, the convent is nowadays used as a factory. When you visit the convent pay close attention to the gates at the entrance where you can see engravings alluding to the time of the Discoveries.
Igreja da Misericórdia de Tavira
The church of the Misericórdia de Tavira was built during the 16 th century and is the most remarkable Renaissance building in the Algarve. The responsible for its construction was André Pilarte, who also participated in the construction of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. The church is decorated on the inside with blue and white tiles.
Ruínas do Castelo de Paderne
O Castelo de Paderne é um dos melhores exemplos de construção militar na segunda metade do século XII e é um dos melhores exemplos de construção militar de lama no Tejo e na Península Ibérica permanência na paisagem. O castelo está representado no simbol da bandeira portuguesa.
O Castelo de Paderne é um pequeno e rural forte, fundado pelo Almohad na 2ª metade do século XII. Aliás, na construção de seus muros, atualmente em uso por um único portão, um processo de construção que já foi esquecido, a lama militar, que foi utilizada exclusivamente: a terra local se mistura com a inerte e estabilizada com cal de ar. Que foram compactados entre os lados pela fixação. Uma vez expostos a carbonatação prolongada, os blocos obtiveram a força da pedra com a qual chegaram hoje.
O dispositivo defensivo foi equipado com uma torre de albarrã de estrutura quadrada, que permanece a uma altura superior a 9 m.
No interior do castelo, intervenções arqueológicas exumavam estruturas habitacionais, demonstrando que, sob os muros, o espaço era completamente urbanizado com ruas estreitas, atravessadas por um complexo sistema de esgoto que levava águas residuais para fora do recinto. fortificado. As ruas formavam blocos, com uma arquitetura típica da época islâmica, com habitações abertas características.
Após a conquista cristã do Algarve, uma nova população se estabeleceu no castelo, que mudou ou mudou, o modelo doméstico inicial. Duas cisternas testemunham os dois principais momentos de ocupação do castelo - o islâmico e o cristão.
Dentro do castelo, próximo ao portão, existem as ruínas de um templo, evocadas por Nossa Senhora da Assunção e a sede paroquial original de Paderne, entre meados do século trinta e a primeira década do século XVI. Mais tarde, como capela, no dia da Anunciação (25 de março). Em 1858, o eremitério foi escrito em ruínas e fora de culto, para o mesmo ano, com a justificativa de que foi abandonado, o Livro de Atas do Conselho Paroquial observa a deliberação de que as telhas e os bosques deveriam se retirar para o benefício da comunidade. igreja. A Igreja Mãe, na moderna vila de Paderne, e a Capela de Nossa Senhora Pé da Cruz, está localizada nos arredores da vila.
"Open Doors Castle" in Paderne
“Castelo de Portas Abertas”, this is the name of the program that allows lovers of history and nature to enrich their knowledge, by visiting the castle of the Almohad period located on a high hill in Paderne, with the Ribeira de Quarteira beside it. «Undoubtedly, one of the
best cultural programs in Albufeira, during the months of August and September »underlines the municipality. Visits are on Wednesdays between 9:30 am and 1:00 pm and do not require an appointment. There are technicians from the municipality specialized in the history of the castle to provide information.
At 100m of altitude, the castle of Paderne marks its presence in the landscape. It is located on a kind of peninsula formed by Ribeira de Quarteira and fertile valleys, with abundant agricultural production, in a strategic area, between the Algarve coast and Barrocal and between Loulé and Silves. It was built in the 12th century during the Almóada domain, a period in which the Arabs organized a strong defensive system in order to try to prevent the expansionist policy of Christians, a policy that started with D. Afonso Henriques and followed by his successors.
However, the first written reference to this construction dates back to 1189. As proof, the archeology works carried out, demonstrated that the human occupation of that “hisn” dates back to the mid-12th century. In the year 1189, D. Sancho I attacks the Algarve and conquers the fortification of Paderne. However, Muslims immediately recover the castle, which would only be conquered, definitively, by the knights of
Order of Santiago, led by their master D. Paio Peres Correia, in 1240, still in the reign of D. Afonso III. At the beginning of the 16th century, more specifically in the year 1506, the population moved from the interior of the fortified enclosure to the current parish headquarters, with the construction of the new parish church, Nossa Senhora da Esperança.
Doune has a long history of fortification. A Roman fort is nearby, and the masonry and earthworks of the present castle probably include parts of an earlier castle that stood here.
But the way the castle looks today is largely down to ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’. Doune was the seat of Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland. He acquired the castle in 1361, when he married Margaret Graham, Countess of Menteith.
A royal retreat
Albany was the younger brother of Robert III, who was politically weak and physically infirm after an injury.
Albany became governor and the effective ruler of the kingdom – for all but two years – from 1386 until his death in 1420. When the future king, James I, was taken prisoner in England in 1406, Albany was left as both Governor and Guardian of Scotland.
Yet Doune only officially became a royal castle after the death of both Albany and his son Murdoch, who was executed by James I on his return to Scotland in 1424.
Doune provided secure lodgings, but it seems neither as well organised nor as comfortable as Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle. There’s a sense that what we see today is only half a castle. Whether Doune was completed, and what might have been lost, is unclear.
Doune’s role as royal retreat effectively came to an end in 1603, when James VI left for London, to become James I of England.
Built to impress
Abbot Bower of Inchcolm, who lived at the same time as Albany, described the duke as a ‘big spender’. No expense was spared on Doune – even in its ruined state, the castle inspires awe in visitors.
Making a show of one’s wealth and status was vital to maintain authority and good governance in Albany’s age. Doune was fitting accommodation for a man of royal blood in 14th-century Scotland.
Castle living quarters
Doune’s great hall impresses most. The cathedral-like room has a minstrels’ gallery and a distinctive central hearth. Standing inside, you can see why Albany was noted for his ‘large tabling and belly cheer’.
The gatehouse provided the duke and duchess with private apartments over a well-defended entry, which still has its iron yett and drawbar.
Inside is the Duke’s Hall, which was restored in 1883 as part of the renovations ordered by the Earl of Moray.
The Duke’s Hall features a:
At the other end of the great hall is the kitchen tower. The tower’s lower levels may be part of an earlier castle that pre-dates the 14th-century fortification.
Mystery of the missing ranges
Doune appears to be missing something – its south and west ranges of buildings.
Projecting ‘tusks’ on the kitchen tower and impressive windows in the south wall tell us that either the two ranges:
- were planned but not completed
- did exist at one stage but were later taken down, leaving very little trace
Historical records show that Albany entertained great numbers of lords and ladies. This supports the belief that Doune Castle is not as big as it once was.
Architectural analysis and archaeological excavation at Doune hint at earlier phases of fortification. The courtyard’s odd shape, the ill-fitting kitchen tower and the limited accommodation all suggest that there is more to be discovered here.
This site is currently closed as a precautionary measure while we undertake site inspections. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Doune Castle Statement of Significance
Doune Castle on Scran
Browse images on our online learning resource.
Doune Castle on Canmore
Read detailed information on our online catalogue of Scotland's heritage.
Islamic Fortifications in Portugal
Located in the ancient capital of Al-Gharb Al-Andalus (today&rsquos Algarve), Silves Castle retains its red-coloured brick walls. The old city centre, called Almedina, was surrounded by a defensive wall and several fortified towers and gates, these are still preserved for visitors to see today.
Loulé Castle is a small fortified and prosperous almedina, belonging to the Taifa of Niebla since 1023 AD, under the command of Ibn Mafom. Of the Almohad structure, built in the early 13th century, the entire northern section of the castle still stands, with it&rsquos &lsquoalbarrana&rsquo tower (Torre da Vela) as well as some other sections of the village wall built in taipa.
Paderne Castle has an unusual feature of Almohad military architecture that would also be copied by Christian castle builders: an albarrana tower, which project from the walls allowing defenders to make flanking fire, and connected by removable wooden bridges. The advantage of this feature is that if the tower was captured the castle itself would not be compromised.
Also known as Castle of the &lsquoMoors&rsquo, Sintra Castle is an example of the evolution from the &lsquoHisn&rsquo to the Caliphal fortifications. Built on an impregnable mountain, it defended the settlement, rather than just a military outpost.
Like many other castles in Portugal, Mértola Castle was first a Roman structure and then an Islamic fortification. It was almost completely rebuilt from 1144 to 1151 when it became the capital of a Taifa kingdom with the same name.
Portugal has well-defined geographic boundaries, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west, and rivers and mountains to the east and north. It occupies the westernmost portion of the Iberian Peninsula and is about the size of the American state of Indiana. The country is a place of topographical contrasts, making defense difficult. The areas around Porto in the north are covered in green hills, with fertile river valleys and a rocky coast. The green mountains are less fertile as they spread to the east and become mountainous towards the south to the Beiras. Along the coastal Beiras, the topography becomes hillier with pine forests and a sandy coast. The capitol Lisbon in the central region and its surrounding area is known for its white rocks, olive fields, and open spaces. The Tagus basin divides the nation in half, with the yellow hills and cattle fields of the central region on the north bank and the beginnings of the Alentejo to the south. The Alentejo is a vast golden plain that extends south to the red cliffs and green hills of the Algarve. These conditions made the defense of Portugal difficult, the region was marked by eras of fortification building. Unlike many of their European counterparts, Portuguese castles were heavily influenced by the master-builders of Rome and Northern Africa. Even the early Celtic tribes of Portugal, the early Lusitanians, already fortified their villages within simple stone walls by this time. The Romans, who occupied Portugal for the next 400 years after this period, then built forts with high walls and strong towers to defend their towns. The Romans were the first to bring in organized military outposts in order to guard their domains. These outposts were usually built on existing fortified castros or defensible Neolithic/Paleolithic strongholds in the hills. Eventually, the Romans gradually built their centers based on their trade and/or commercial needs and abandoned many sites for places along rivers or lowland agricultural settlements. The outposts that remained continued to serve as sentries or outposts, while some points evolved into larger towns or cities that survived long after the Romans had retreated.
By the Middle Ages, Portugal was a crossroads of cultures, with hostile Moors to the south and rival Iberian kingdoms to the east. There were primarily two main periods of fortified castle construction: those built and defended by the Moors from Northern Africa, between the 8th and 13th centuries, and those built or maintained by Christian forces including the Kingdom of Portugal, after this period.
The Moors, Islamic peoples who had arrived in the Iberian Peninsula from Northern Africa around 711 A.D., conquering the Christian lands ruled by the Germanic Kingdoms of the peninsula, built strong castles and fortifications in many cities. They brought innovative stonework and heavily fortified gates to Portugal. Meanwhile, Northern European and English forts/castles were built with wood material during this period. Although many Portuguese medieval castles originated in the Islamic period, most of them were extensively remodeled after the Christian reconquest. One of the best-preserved is the Castle of Silves, in the ancient capital of the Al-Garb (today's Algarve). Built between the 8th and 13th centuries, the castle retains its walls and square-shaped towers from the Moorish period (including its 11th-century cisterns or water reservoirs). The old Moorish center of the city, the Almedina, was defended by a wall and several fortified towers and gates, parts of which are still preserved.
Another example of Islamic castles in the Algarve is the Castle of Paderne, whose ruined walls serves as evidence of the taipa building technique used in some period construction. The Castle of the Moors in Sintra (near Lisbon), has also preserved remains of its walls and a cistern from the Moorish occupation. Similarly, many of modern Portuguese towns and cities still retain examples of Moorish city walls that have been preserved or reused locally, such as in the Cerca Velha of Lisbon or the fortifications of Évora. Many of these walls were marked by the characteristic horseshoe-shaped gates leading into their courtyards, as shown from the castles in Faro and Elvas.
During the Portuguese Reconquista (12th and 13th centuries) many of the castles were reused or rebuilt to protect their fledgling kingdom from invasions from both Moors and rival Christians, like the Castilians. King Afonso Henriques sponsored the building of many fortifications (often remodeling Moorish castles) such as the Castle of São Jorge (in Lisbon) and granted land to Military Orders (especially the Templar Knights and the Knights Hospitallers) in order maintain order and defend their border outposts. The Templar Knights built several fortresses along the line of the Tagus river, like the castles of Pombal, Tomar, Belver and Almourol. They are credited as having introduced the keep to Portuguese military architecture. In addition to supporting national integrity, the castle was used to defend many of the settlements and towns in the hinterland and promote the possession of crown.
Around the 12th century, Portugal emerged as a nation led by the nobleman Afonso Henriques, launched a bold crusade to carve the southwestern half of the Iberian Peninsula away from the Moors. Many of Portugal's earliest castles from this post-1139 A.D. period were reconstructions of Moorish and Roman forts. Their ogival style has certain common themes: high simple granite walls, a dual towered gatehouse, a cistern, and pointed castellated walls.
During the Gothic period, the castles became more and more flamboyant and deadly, with archers’ loops in the castellated walls, oil spouts at the base of parapets, and increasingly higher keeps and towers. By 1249 the Moors had been expelled from southern Portugal and the nation became the first in Europe to take on its modern borders. The focus of Portuguese castles during this period shifted from lines along east to west flowing rivers, to the towns along the long Portuguese border with rival Castile. The pinnacles of this period were the 13th-century castles built under King Denis, who rebuilt almost every major castle in the land. Until Denis, Portugal’s castles were usually just a three-story keep with one or two rings of walls. New tower keeps were built like the one at Castle of Beja or the five-sided keep at Sabugal. Many castles were encircled by multiple layers of walls, many with staggered gates and hidden escape doors. The wooden buildings used by the garrisons were built with more room for provisions and space for soldiers.
The 13th and 14th centuries was a period of flamboyant castle building, with more decorative touches and features, like pepper pots on towers, ornate brickwork, and massive great halls built of stone. Many of these castles became fortified palaces to protect the monarch and courts, but just as castle building reached its apex the era came to quick end in 1453: in Byzantium, the Turks brought down the once impregnable walls of the castle with cannon fire. The age of castles was over, but the age of great forts had just begun. Gone were high walls, proud keeps and strong towers, transitioning into low stonewalls built around mounds of earth to repulse cannonballs. The straight lines of walls were replaced by star-like angles to allow for cannon and gunfire to be crossed with deadly results against the enemy. These forts became much more sophisticated in the 16th and 17th centuries. Portuguese engineers-built hundreds of forts to defend the empire. Many are still found across South America, Africa, and Asia. The finest examples in Portugal are found in Almeida, Valença do Minho, Marvão, and Elvas. These gun forts were in use until the 1830s Civil War, the last war to be fought on Portuguese soil and some had military uses into the 20th century.
Construction of a mansion on the Crystal River also began in 1899. The mansion was named Cleveholm Manor, using his nickname, Cleve, and holm meaning “alongside a river.” The Castle was built as a hunting retreat, and constructed of large stone blocks hand-cut and quarried from the nearby sandstone cliffs. No expense was spared as the finest craftsmen of the era built the towering mansion on a sloping hillside in the Crystal River valley.
Entering the Castle today is like entering another time. The main residence offers 23,000 sq. ft. of living space, with 66 rooms that range from an English-style Great Hall and a Russian-inspired formal dining room to a delicate Ladies’ Drawing Room decorated in the French style of the era. Oversized claw-foot bathtubs grace the bathrooms, and Persian carpets embellish the floors. An estimated 60% of the original furnishings remain at the Castle today.
First stage of Paderne Castle renovation completed 'below budget'
Work to repair the Albarrã tower at Paderne Castle has been completed. The Minister of Culture paid a visit to mark the completion of the specialised reconstruction of the degraded tower made of taipa militar* that has stood up well to the ravages of the weather for eight centuries.
The work was to cost €132,000, supported by the local Council, the regional cultural directorate and the Millennium BCP Foundation, but came in under budget as a late decision was made to not repair the highest course of taipa.
This first stage of the Paderne Castle conservation programme will be followed by extensive repairs to the eastern wall which will cost a further €460,000.
The start date is sometime in 2019 after quotes have been received and a contractor chosen.
Minister Castro Mendes, said his visit was, "to show support and highlight the cultural interest that this project has in our historical heritage," adding that sun and sand tourism is all very well but many also come to the region for its history and culture, a growing area."
António Monteiro, president of the Millennium BCP Foundation, said it had been, "a pleasure to collaborate in the restoration of this important monument".
The mayor of Albufeira, whose Council had co-funded this first stage with the Millennium BCP Foundation, said the municipality wants to encourage culture tourism, especially when it is in an inland area.
* The original building material for the tower and castle walls was ‘taipa militar’ a compressed mud and gravel mix which was plastered and painted. For the technically minded, the 'taipa,' or mud, that Paderne is made from varies between 30-42% aggregate limestone, 12-17% fine cohesive materials and 41-58% of sand.