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Sao Jorge history: timeline, key events, evolution

Sao Jorge is a medieval castle dating back to the 9th century. Perched atop the highest hill overlooking the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, the historic castle houses a museum and the remains of a royal palace. The castle is a National Monument and is a treat for history and archaeology buffs.

Sao Jorge Castle timeline

  • 10th century: Islamic ruler Hisham II ordered large-scale construction on the site.
  • 1147: Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, captured Lisbon from the Moors.
  • 1580: The castle was converted into a military base. Later, it was transformed into a prison and hospital.
  • 1755: A severe earthquake hit the castle and the palace.
  • 1910: Sao Jorge was declared a National Monument by an official decree.

Construction of Sao Jorge

The only piece of authoritative evidence suggesting construction atop the hill is an inscription dated to 985. It was during the reign of the Moors, in the Umayyad caliphate. The information describes Lisbon as Madina, meaning it was a walled city. It also mentions that the wall is damaged and needs repair. Despite it being widely accepted that a fortified citadel existed within the walls, historians are silent on whether it was Sao Jorge Castle. The primary reason for this is that Sao Jorge Castle is a Gothic castle with a distinctive quadrangular layout and towers. It was heavily modified after the Christian reconquest of Lisbon, and at least eight Christian rulers oversaw extensive modifications to the fort. A massive earthquake in 1755 also affected the castle and its buildings, altering some of its characteristics.

Sao Jorge today

Today, Sao Jorge Castle stands as a proud symbol of Portugal's eventful history. The imposing castle, overlooking Lisbon, is a treat for enthusiasts of archaeology and history. It houses several attractions, with the museum being the most important among them all. It exhibits invaluable historical treasures. The partially ruined Royal Palace is also a must-visit. The architecture of the rooms is marvelous. There are two public squares giving unmatched views of the city of Lisbon and the river Tagus. Scattered around the fort are fourteen pieces of original artillery. There are statues of rulers and extensively landscaped gardens in which the majestic Indian peacocks stroll.




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Frequently asked questions about Sao Jorge Castle

What is the historical significance of Sao Jorge Castle?

Sao Jorge Castle Castle is synonymous with history. It was constructed during the 9th and 10th centuries. First occupied by the Moors and later by Christians through a historic battle, Sao Jorge Castle tells the story of medieval Europe's eventful past.

How old is Sao Jorge castle?

Although historians differ on the exact date of the construction of the structure, it is estimated to have been completed in the 10th century.

How many years did it take to build Sao Jorge castle?

Sao Jorge, or at least its fortifications, was built during the 9th and 10th centuries. After the reconquest in 1147, several modifications were made to Sao Jorge.

Who built Sao Jorge castle?

Some inscriptions credit the Moor ruler Hisam II as the man behind the construction of the citadel. More accurate archaeological evidence suggests Portugal's first King, Afonso Henriques, was responsible for the modifications.

What is the architectural style of Sao Jorge castle?

Sao Jorge follows the traditional Gothic style. It has a quadrangular layout, an elbow-shaped gateway, and 10 quadrangular turrets. To strengthen defense, a barbican was built in the southeastern area.

What events or incidents have shaped the history of Sao Jorge?

The reconquest in 1147 was the most eventful among all instances, as it reshaped its history. The earthquake in 1755 also played an important role as it damaged some buildings, changing the utility of the structure.

What are some lesser-known historical facts or anecdotes about Sao Jorge?

There was a palace inside the Sao Jorge citadel, which was eventually lost to the earthquake. Also, in the later part of history, the castle served as a prison and hospital for soldiers