Although visible to anyone passing through Aljezur, this castle is often overlooked by people. However, it was on one of my trips to the Costa Vicentina that I saw this gem and decided to go up there to see for myself what it looks like.
This was certainly, a great decision! The weather was not perfect as it was cold up there due to the altitude and the sun was hidden that day. However, the place offered a wonderful view. After climbing this mountain, you will be able to enjoy a beautiful landscape over Aljezur.
On top of that, you will not only find a beautiful place, but also several walls with memories engraved on each old stone. To give you an interesting insight into this historical gem, there is information at the entrance of the castle that you can read before entering.
According to the archaeological remains found on site, this ancient monument dates back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. It was then used by the Roman Empire and the Muslims during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. And then by the Portuguese who took over the castle.
The main function of the castle was to control the Aljezur stream. When the river started to dry up and for this reason, without being able to navigate on these waters, the castle was abandoned. This abandonment occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries, but some people believe that it is one of the castles of the Algarve represented on the Portuguese flag.
Earthquake of 1755
Not only did Lisbon suffer from the 1755 earthquake, but the Algarve was completely massacred by this seismic event and the resulting tsunami. Aljezur was no exception and also lost important ancient monuments.
As a result, the castle was somewhat run down, but it was not completely lost despite the great destruction it suffered. Also, it was partially rebuilt between 1940 and 1941 as part of national commemorations and in 1977 it was classified as a Property of Public Interest.
A legend of love
The Iberian Peninsula, of which Portugal is part, was occupied by the Moors for many years. For this reason, especially the Algarve and the Alentejo have traces of their presence. After that, many legends involving relationships between Christians and Moors have followed up to the present day. One of them is the legend of Mareares.
According to this legend, the Portuguese recovered the castle of Aljezur in the 13th century thanks to a Moorish lady who helped her beloved man, who was Portuguese, to recover their castle.
The name of this lady was Maira and will always remain in the memory of the inhabitants who know this legend by heart. She was in love with a soldier from the Portuguese army and for this reason she told him that her people had an old tradition that kept them away from the castle for a few hours.
Basically, she told her lover that the Moors will be out of the castle on the morning of the 24th of June, as they usually bathe in Praia da Amoreira every year on that morning, leaving the castle almost empty without any protection.
Taking this information into account, the Portuguese army organised a plan to defeat the Moors and occupy the castle. During the night they hid in the woods near the castle and waited to see if the Moors would leave the castle, which they did, as the lady told them.
It is said that a child noticed the troops coming to the castle and told his grandmother, who said it was not possible. After a while she saw them and tried to raise the alarm, but it was too late for her, as she was shot.
Then the Christians themselves sounded the alarm to draw the opponents in and surround them, leaving them no choice but to surrender. When the bells rang, the Muslims arrived quickly to see what was going on and to fight, but the Christians had already prepared an ambush, which resulted in bloodshed for the Muslims. According to this old legend, this is how the Portuguese took over the castle.
Whether you find this story interesting or not, you can always visit this castle. Just drive towards Aljezur and follow the information signs to the castle.
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252