We visited Montemor-o-Velho Castle on the morning of 26th July 2014 under one of the activities integrated in the program “Ciência Viva no Verão” (Summer Living Science). This visit that had a biological, geological and historic component was organized by the “Rede de Castelos e Muralhas do Mondego” (Castles and Town Walls of the Mondego Network).
Defensive Line of the Mondego
In 1064, Fernando Magno, King of León, conquered Coimbra. This was a crucial event in the long process of Christian conquests.
Henceforth, the city and Mondego basin assumed the defense of the border between Christians and Muslims.
The Mozarabic Sesnando Davides was the commander of this new frontier. He was the one who established a set of defensive structures, which is nowadays called Defensive Line of the Mondego.
Among others, Defensive Line of the Mondego is formed by the Castles of Coimbra, Lousã, Miranda do Corvo, Montemor-o-Velho, Penela, Soure and Buarcos’ watchtower. The Castles of Pombal and Germanelo and other structures joined the border some time later.
Although nowadays it is located on the right margin of Mondego river, at the time of its construction the castle was standing on the river mouth. Due to its strategic location, Montemor-o-Velho Castle was the main fortification of that region and the more coveted one. Hence, numerous battles took place there during the “Reconquista” (reconquest).
The castle has an irregular plan that is adapted to the shape of the terrain. It is composed by the original castle and its keep, the main enclosure, the surrounding barbican, an enclosure on the north side and an inferior stronghold at east.
Montemor-o-Velho castle has two entrances: the “Porta da Peste” (Pest Door), which is the main entrance, and “Porta do Sol” (Sun Door), also called “Porta de Nossa Senhora do Rosário” (Door of Our Lady of the Rosary).
Inside the castle one finds the Church of Santa Maria da Alcáçova, which dates back to the 11th century. However, the church was remodeled in the 16th century, during the Manueline period, thus it has a simple and naturalist architecture.
There´s also the Church of Santa Maria Madalena, the Chapel of Santo António, parallel to the barbican, and the Chapel of São João, inside the new enclosure. All three of them are already in ruins.
10h00 – 18h00 (16 September to 14 June)
10h00 – 20h00 (15 June to 15 September)
Entrance fee: no fee