Castelo de São Jorge is one of our favorite sights of the city. The ruins of this castle are very impressive, but the main reason for us to go here is the splendid view over the city.
The castle stands on a 110 meter tall hill in Alfama, providing a beautiful view over the city. Castelo São Jorge is one of the oldest vestiges in the city. The castle was built by the Moors on the remains of a fortress from the 5th century, when Portugal was inhabited by the Visigoths. During the earthquake of 1755, the castle was destroyed to a large extent, but has been partly restored again.
Through the main entrance you enter a courtyard with a bronze statue of Dom Afonso Henriques (the first king of Portugal). In the courtyard you can find remains of the old castle, including the rebuilt Casa Ogival. In Casa Ogival you can see a multimedia show (Olissipónia) about the history of Lisbon. A lot of attention is paid to the earthquake of 1755 and the damage that was caused to the city and the castle.
At the highest point – in the northwestern corner of the complex – lies the original castle, with battlements and ten watchtowers. During attacks on the fortress this was the last bastion. Stairs lead to the highest point. It is a fairly steep climb but the view is most definitely worth it.
Our tip: Buy a Lisboa Card to use public transport, at Castelo de São Jorge you receive a 20% discount on the entrance fee with the Lisboa Card
On one of the towers has a periscope, which you can use to view the city from a great height. In the black room in the castle there is a Camera Obscura which shows the city in real time. Within the fortress you can see the remains of a medieval church and there are some eateries and souvenir shops.
In the spring and summer the castle is open until 21:00, it is an ideal place to enjoy the view with a snack and drink. Don’t feel burdened to do this, many locals (residents of Lisbon can enter for free) will do the same on a nice sunny day.
It is also possible to rent audio tours to get to know the castle even better. Audio tours are available in Portuguese, English and Spanish.
In the past there was a lot of crime around the castle and the houses that had been built on the thick walls of the fortress were in bad shape. Nowadays it is ‘hot’ to live here. The houses have been and are being bought by property developers who are restoring the houses and then renting or selling it for sometimes no less than half a million euros. Many of these houses also have gardens, which you can admire from the castle.
Many houses around the castle are rented through Airbnb, so if you want a unique experience, try to get a place here through Airbnb.
Take Tram 28 to the castle
Tram 28 is a great option to get to the castle. Get off at the stop Miradouro Santa Luzia. Before you start your way up to the castle, don’t forget to enjoy the view at this miradouro.
The elevator to the castle
Since recently there is a lift that takes you from Baixa to Castelo, the entrance to the lift is at Rua dos Franqueiros 170-178. This lift takes you to Chão do Loureiro. From here it is a 10 minute walk to the castle. The elevator is free.
How to get to Castelo São Jorge
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, Alfama
Openings Hours: daily
1 November – 28 February: 9:00 a.mm – 6:00 p.m.
1 March – 31 October: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.