Sao Jorge Castle

Sao Jorge Castle

São Jorge castle is an architectural marvel of Lisbon that sits atop the highest hill of the city, São Jorge. Also known as Saint George's Castle, the iconic symbol of Portugal, is known for its historical and cultural significance. The centuries-old castle is a symbol of endurance and strength that narrates the city’s ancient history. 

Built-in the 11th century BC by the Moors, the castle was taken over by the first Portuguese king, Dom Afonso Henriques in 1147. It was then made the residence of the Portuguese kings and given prominence as a royal palace. Since then, the castle has witnessed the eras of many kings and was restored and expanded several times, adding various architectural styles to its design.

Today, the castle serves as a major attraction and witnesses around 2 million footfalls every year. Visitors explore the magnificent castle and take a look at its ancient courtyards, battlements as well as other attractions. The castle also has a beautiful garden inside its premises as well as a terrace from where you can enjoy a stunning view of Lisbon as well as the Tagus River and its valley.

History of Sao Jorge castle

The history of São Jorge castle dates back to the 11th century when the Moors built it to defend Lisbon from invasions during their occupation in the Iberian Peninsula. The castle then became the residence of the Portuguese monarchy and became the royal palace. 

Since then, over the centuries, the castle was passed down from one king to another and underwent expansions and renovations. During these changes, several architectural styles such as Manueline and Gothic were added to its design. In the 16th century, during the Spanish occupation of Portugal, the castle played an important role as a military stronghold. The castle was restored to its current state during the 20th century and was open to the public as a historical landmark.

Architecture and Designs of Sao Jorge Castle

São Jorge castle in Lisbon is located atop the highest hill of Lisbon in the heart of the city. Many of the castle’s walls extend around the citadel into the civil parishes and surround the south and east. The castle showcases several architectural styles in its design, owning to several renovations and expansions that have happened over centuries. 

The castle was initially built in medieval and Moorish architectural style, which can be witnessed in its robust stone walls, battlements and ancient courtyards. The architectural style can also be witnessed in the use of granite and limestone as well as elements such as geometric patterns, decorative tiles, and horseshoe arches. Later on, various architectural styles such as Gothic and Manueline were added to its design.

The plan of the Castle shows it to be roughly a square which was initially encircled by a wall, forming a citadel. The inner complex has ancillary buildings, gardens, and a large terraced square. There are 3 entrances through which the castle can be entered. The main entrance is a 19th-century gate surmounted by the coat-of-arms of Portugal and permits entry into the main square. The square has the bronze statue of Afonso Henriques along with ancient canons. The remains of the royal palace is also located nearby. Located near the northwest corner of the citadel at its highest point is the medieval castle, which is rectangular and has ten towers.

Who Built Sao Jorge castle (St George Castle)?

The construction of Saint George's Castle, also known as the São Jorge Castle, is attributed to the Moors who had occupied the Iberian Peninsula. They had built the castle in the 11th century as a military fortress to defend Lisbon from external invasion. The original castle was built of limestone and granite and was designed in Moorish architectural style. The style incorporated Moorish elements such as geometric patterns, decorative tiles and horseshoe arches. 

In 1147, the castle was captured by the first king of Portuguese, King Afonso Henriques and was later converted into a royal palace and residence of Portuguese kings. Over the centuries, the castle underwent several expansions and renovations and added various architectural styles, like Manueline and Gothic. 

After withstanding the test of time over centuries, the castle still stands on a strong foot and narrates its age-old history to its visitors. Being renovated in its current state in the 20th century, the castle, today, remains to be the testimony of Portugal and Lisbon’s diverse cultural heritage and rich history. Visitors explore the castle to take a look at its ancient courtyards, battlements, cannons and other attractions portraying the different styles of architecture.

Things To See At Sao Jorge castle

Enchanted Gardens:

Step into the castle's captivating garden that unveils itself. This verdant sanctuary awaits your exploration. Its sprawling space boasts an array of remarkable trees like cork oak, olive, carob, strawberry, and umbrella pine. Some even bear the essence of the Royal Palace of Alcáçova's own garden, adding a touch of mystical allure.

Black Chamber:

Brace yourself for an awe-inspiring revelation! Embark on a journey to the Black Chamber in St. George Castle. This chamber has an expanse of mirrors and lenses that paint a vivid, 360-degree portrait of Lisbon's soul. Behold iconic landmarks, the meandering river, and the pulse of daily life, each detail carved into your memory from afar. Calm glimpses of people strolling with their furry companions, and locals immersed in their daily rhythms.

The Heritage Exhibition:

Step into the heart of history within Sao Jorge Castle's hallowed halls. Here, the legacy of Romans, Visigoths, and Moors intertwines with artifacts and relics from ages past. Immerse yourself in the echoes of ancient cultures, woven seamlessly from the 7th century BC to the 18th century. It’s like a symphony of bygone eras brought to life through these cherished objects.

Royal Ruins of the Alcáçova:

Wander through the time-worn passages of the former Royal Palace of the Alcáçova, a space that preserves the echoes of regal grandeur. Despite the earthquake's embrace in 1755, fragments of elegance endure. Today, it's a sanctuary of discovery, a Permanent Exhibition. Cozy cafes and the charming Casa do Leão Restaurant embrace you. The garden and patio, adorned with architectural gems, unveil whispers of the palace's majestic past.

Archaeological Marvel:

Sao Jorge Castle stands as a treasure trove of time, a portal through eras long past. Venture into the remnants of civilizations from the ancient settlement of the 7th century BC to the captivating Moorish period and the echoes of palatial life from ages gone by. These layers of history intertwine, crafting Sao Jorge Castle as Lisbon's most enthralling historical canvas.

Panoramic Glimpses:

Get ready for a panoramic masterpiece at the zenith of Lisbon's tallest hill São Jorge. The castle gives you a front-row view of a breathtaking scene. Glance through Praça de Armas, the bustling main square, and gaze upon Lisbon's seven iconic hills. This panoramic view showcases the beauty of the lush green hills and the cityscape's hues.

Sao Jorge Castle Video

Overview Video of Sao Jorge Castle

Take a walk through the São Jorge Castle Lisbon by entering it through its main gate. Witness the panoramic vista of the city of Lisbon as well as the gorgeous river Tagus as you enter. Observe the medieval tours with flags flying on top of them, overlooking the Lisbon city view. Enter the remains of the ancient castle with robust limestone and granite walls. Reach the charming courtyard and drink in the mesmerising beauty of the panoramic view of the river once again. Observe the surrounding walls of the castle that have protected Lisbon from external invasions for a long. Take a walk on the surrounding walls and cross its various towers.

Know Before You Visit to Sao Jorge Castle

Essential Informations
How to Reach
Access & Entrances
Best Way to get to Sao Jorge Castle
  • Location: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal.
  • Opening Hours: Opens daily at 9 am; 

Closes: Summer - March to October: 9 pm (Last entry: 8:30 pm); 

Winter - November to February: 6 pm (Last entry 5:30 pm);

31st December: 1 pm;

Closed on 1st January, 1st May 24th & 25th December.

  • Best time to visit: The best time to visit Saint George's castle is during the spring and autumn when Lisbon experiences a shoulder season. During the spring months of April to May and the autumn months of September to November, the city experiences pleasant weather and has fewer tourists. While visiting during these months, you will be able to enter the attraction quickly without long queues and will also be able to explore the castle at your own pace without having to jam with others. The best time of the day to visit the castle is during its opening hours in the morning.
  • By Bus: Praça do Comércio, the nearest station, is only an 11-minute walk away. Bus services connect from a variety of destinations, including Amadora's Ubbo, Lisboa's Parque Colombo, Oeiras' Edificio Atlas I, Lisboa's Restelo, and Almada's Cristo-Rei.
  • By Metro: Rossio station is around 8 minutes distant from So Jorge Castle. It takes 15 minutes to get there by metro from Urb. da Ribeirada, Odivelas, or Parque Colombo, Lisboa.
  • By Tram: To reach Saint Jorge Castle, take Tram 28 or 12, with Tram 28 being the preferable route. It winds past Lisbon's principal attractions, beginning at Martim Moniz and ending atop a hill in the picturesque Graça neighbourhood.
  • By Train: R. Conceiço, the nearest station, is only a 6-minute walk away. The Cascais-Cais Do Sodré express train line, which also passes via R. Conceiço, takes 6 minutes.
  • By Car: Start your tour in Lisbon's centre by car, however owing to restricted attraction parking, choose downtown parking. Take Tram 28 from there to effortlessly transition to touring the city.
  • On Foot: The distance between Largo Rodrigues de Freitas and the attraction is only 6 minutes. Prepare to begin on an enthralling journey as you rise uphill, passing through historic neighbourhoods and breathtaking structures. Notably, you can reach Sao Jorge Castle on foot, adding to the attraction of this adventure.
  • The Castle has an accessible route. This route is leveled from the ground to the Castle entrance.
  • São Jorge Castle has a service prepared for people with disabilities.
  • Guide dogs are welcome at São Jorge Castle.
  • The restrooms in the Castle (except the museum) have changing rooms and the restroom next to Jardim do Buxo is prepared for visitors with wheelchairs.
  • São Jorge Castle has a café and a restaurant (Casa do Leão).
  • You can explore the castle at your leisure and refresh yourself at the café and restaurant.
  • The monument also has several restrooms to provide a comfortable experience.
  • Wheelchair accessibility is available all over Sao Jorge Castle, which ensures people with reduced mobility enjoy a good time.
  • Fastest way: The fastest way to reach São Jorge castle is by travelling by train. The nearest station to the castle is R. Conceição station. Travel by the Cascais - Cais Do Sodré - Express train route to reach this station and walk for 6 minutes to reach the attraction.
  • Budget-friendly: The cheapest way to reach Saint George's Castle from most locations is to travel by train. The station closest to the castle is R. Conceição station, and the Cascais - Cais Do Sodré - Express train route runs through R. Conceição. Once you reach, walk for 6 minutes to reach the castle.
  • Best Scenic View: The tram route will take you through the most scenic route. The route climbs up the hill to reach the castle and passes through ancient neighbourhoods and beautiful buildings.

Tips of Sao Jorge Castle:

  • The castle São Jorge Lisboa is vast and also has places where it is quite steep. So it is essential to wear comfortable footwear of good quality to explore the place.
  • Cover your head with a hat or any other head cover to protect yourself from the glare of sun, especially during the summer months.
  • Apply sunscreen on your face to protect the skin from the sun's rays.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated while visiting the castle. Carry water bottles, especially if you visit when the weather is warm or hot. 
  • Book online to enjoy skip-the-line access to the castle. If you wish to purchase a ticket at the counter, visit 15 minutes before the opening hours to enjoy a shorter queue at the ticket counter.
  • Travel by public transport instead of own car, as there is no parking available in the area. Also, the uphill leading to the castle is narrow.
  • To enjoy a scenic journey, travel by tram.
  • Carry a headphone along to listen to the audio guide directly from your phone.
  • Bring along a camera to take as many pictures as you want to capture the view of the castle as well as the view of the city and river Tagus.
  • Do not carry food to Sao Jorge Castle. You can have a meal at a restaurant inside the castle or grab a quick bite from the café inside.


Where exactly is Sao Jorge Castle located?

The address of the castle of São Jorge Lisbon Portugal is Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal. The castle is located near Praça da Figueira and is perched on the top of São Jorge, the highest hill in Lisbon. As you reach the location, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of the city of Lisbon and the gorgeous Tagus River.

Why is Sao Jorge Castle so famous?

The São Jorge castle is famous for being an eminent archaeological architectural wonder of Lisbon. The 1000-year-old castle is located on the top of the highest hill of the city and offers a breathtaking view of the city and the river Tagus. As you enter the castle, you will be able to view ancient courtyards, battlements and an old Moorish wall and will be fascinated to learn its history and get a glimpse into the age-old culture.

How much time does it take to explore Sao Jorge Castle?

The recommended time for exploring São Jorge castle is between 1.5 to 2 hours. In this time, you will be able to explore the castle, its black chamber and garden and also stroll through the permanent exhibition inside the castle. You will also be able to visit the ruins of the former Royal Palace of the Alcáçova which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1755.

What’s inside São Jorge Castle?

Inside the castle, São Jorge Lisboa are many remains of ancient times which have a history to narrate. You will also get a glimpse into the culture of Lisbon in the bygone eras by walking across ancient courtyards and battlements. A few noteworthy attractions located inside are the bronze monument to Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first king, an impressive array of ancient cannons, and the old Moorish Walls. You will also find a museum and a garden inside the castle. The castle also has a terrace which will allow you to witness a spectacular view of the city of Lisbon.

What are the different ways to reach Sao Jorge Castle?

Travelling by train is the fastest and cheapest way to reach São Jorge castle. The closest train station to the attraction is R. Conceição station, and the Cascais - Cais Do Sodré - Express train route runs through it. Once you reach the station, walk for 6 minutes to reach the castle. If you are looking for a scenic journey, you can opt for a tram which will take you uphill and reach the castle, travelling through old neighbourhoods and stunning buildings. Car, metro, and bus are other ways to reach the castle. You can also opt to reach the place by foot if you are coming from a nearby location.

What are the opening hours of Sao Jorge Castle?

The São Jorge castle opens every day at 9 am, although, the closing time varies as per season. In the summer months from March to October, the attraction closes at 9 pm and in the winter months from November to February, it closes at 6 pm. The last entry on all days is 30 minutes before the closing time. The attraction closes at 1 pm on 31st December and remains closed on 1st January, 1st May 24th & 25th December.

How many entrances are there in Sao Jorge Castle?

São Jorge castle has three main entrances. You can enter the castle through the west gatehouse, the north gatehouse or the south vaulted passage.

What is the best time to visit Sao Jorge Castle?

The best time to visit São Jorge castle is either during the spring months from April to May or the autumn months of September to November. This is the shoulder season for Lisbon and the footfalls are less. Hence, if you visit during these months, you will be able to enjoy shorter queues at ticket counters and will also be able to explore the castle at your own pace.

Who built the Sao Jorge Castle?

The São Jorge castle is the oldest known fortification that was initially built in the 11th century BC by the Moors. In 1147, the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques, captured the castle as well as the city of Lisbon from the Moors. Later on, the castle became the home to Portugal kings.

Does Sao Jorge Castle have parking facilities?

No, the castle of São Jorge Lisbon Portugal does not have any parking facilities of its own. If you are travelling by car, you will need to reach Lisbon downtown and park your car there. From there you can take tram no. 28 to reach the destination.


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