Even on busy days there is peace and beauty to be found in the castle grounds as most visitors are drawn to the views rather than the exploring the gardens. They are not gardens for plant lovers or gardeners, but you will find unexpected art, including poetry about the trees.
There are no dragons though despite this being the castle of São Jorge, Patron Saint of Portugal, England, Gozo, Romania and Georgia, and the legendary slayer of dragons. It was the protection of São Jorge that King John II sought in the late 14th century when he named Lisboa’s castle after him. The castle dates from the 11th century, although there have been fortifications on the hill since the 2nd century BC. The castle was built by the Moors, and was taken by the Christians during the Second Crusade. In the early 14th century the castle underwent significant renovation and construction, and for a period of time housed the Royal Palace. By the 16th century it has lost some of its importance, partly due to a new Royal Residence by the Tagus and partly because of earthquake damage. During the Spanish rule in the 17th century it became a military barracks and prison, and then in the 18th century, the Great Earthquake of 1755 resulted in significant damage. It continued life as a garrison though until the early 19th century. There were at one stage 77 towers, today only 7. They are though still very impressive and well worth exploring if you have a good head for heights and energy left over from the climb to the castle.
As previously mentioned it is the views of Lisboa which draw most tourists these days to the castle walls; and who can blame us, they are magnificent.
But there’s the one view I failed to take. A view of the castle itself from Baixa, Lisboa!! What was I thinking? I have managed to find a couple of glimpse shots but for the full castle panorama you are going to have to wait until I return.