Castelo do Montemor-o-Velho

The Beiras

Perched atop a rugged hilltop, this medieval castle dominates the surrounding landscape. Originally dating to the 10th century, it was the scene of much fighting during the Reconquista as Moors and Christians sought to conquer it. It eventually fell to Ferdinand I of Castile and León in 1064 and less than a century later, Ferdinand's great-grandson Afonso Henrique claimed it for his new Kingdom of Portugal.

Over the centuries the castle was modified several times, and most of the current structure dates to the 14th century.

Nowadays, you can walk the crenellated battlements and survey the lush rice fields by the Rio Mondego far below. Inside little remains except for part of the 13th-century Paço das Infantas (Princesses’ Palace) and the Igreja de Santa Maria de Alcáçova, a small Romanesque church with a 16th-century Manueline interior. Note the gold altarpiece, actually a 17th-century addition, and adjacent tiled chapel.