Although we left relatively early this morning, 10 am, we arrived at the boat pier about 2 minutes too late and missed the last boat to Almoural Castle. The last boat leaves at 12 pm and stops for lunch until 2.30 pm, so it meant we had a long wait in a very small town.
Almoural Castle sits on a small craggy island, about 310 meters long and 75 meters wide, in the middle of the Tagus River. Almoural Castle is located in central Portugal, not far from Tomar and about an hour and half from Lisbon. To reach the castle, you do need to take a short boat trip, only a couple of minutes from the mainland to reach it.
I have to say that it is a storybook castle, with its crenelated walls and imposing tower which sits on a greenery covered rocky outcrop among the gently flowing river. In fact, Almourol Castle was the setting for Francisco de Morais’s epic novel Palmeirim of England, about two knights fighting for a princess’s favor.
It is believed that the castle was possibly constructed on a primitive Lusitanian castro, that was conquered by the Romans during the 1st century BCE. It was remodeled by invading forces including the Alans, Visigoths and Moors. The castle was conquered in 1129 as part of the Reconquest of the Portuguese territory and given to the Knights Templar, who rebuilt the structure. This castle along with Tomar, Zezere and Cardiga castles formed part of the defensive line of fortifications along the Tagus River, that prevented attack from the Moors.
When the Knights Templar dissolved in 1312, this castle remained in the hands of the Portuguese Crown until the creation of the Order of Christ in 1319, who then took it over. The castle was eventually abandoned and then severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake and fell into ruins. The castle was rebuilt during the 19th century and registered as a National Monument in 1919. During the 1940s and 1950s it became the official residence of the Portuguese Republic. Later becoming a tourist attraction.
While the castle is empty, you can easily spend 40 minutes wandering the grounds, climbing up the castle keep and walking along the walls admiring the beautiful serene views of the river.
Time your visit to arrive on the hour and during opening times to avoid waiting for the castle to reopen after lunch. It is a beautiful picturesque setting and a photographers dream.
- 1st of November – 29th of February │ 10 am to 1 pm (last visit to castle at 12.20) │2.30 to 5.30 (last visit to castle at 4.40 pm)
- 1st of March to 31st of October │ 10 am to1 pm (last entrance at 12.40) │ 2.30 to 7 pm (last entrance at 6.20 pm)
Boat Trip to Castle from the River Tancos: The boat boards at the pier with D’El King, in Tancos for a visit to the island and castle and return trip. GPS coordinates: 08°23’56.552 W 39°27’31.494 N
Boat Times: Hourly departures
- 1st November to 28th February │ 10am to 1pm │ 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
- 1st March to 31st October │ 10am to 1pm │ 2:30 pm to 7:00 pm
- Boat Price is €2.50 per person