montemor-o-velho, the castle

“onde nasceu fernão mendes pinto?
jorge de montemor onde nasceu?
a mesma terra o mesmo céu que eu pinto
castelo velho o que foi deles é meu”
afonso duarte

“where was fernão mendes pinto born?
jorge de montemor, where was he born?
the same earth, the same sky that i paint
old castle what was theirs is mine”
– afonso duarte


last tuesday, driving slowly between figueira da foz and coimbra, we came across the castle of montemor-o-velho, proudly standing on top of a small hill. we had no big agenda for the day, other than picking up the cats at midnight in lisbon, so we stopped a while to explore.

the castle was first heard of in medieval times (before the country of portugal was born), and it was successively conquered by christians and arabs and even by napoleon troops. in 1910, it was declared national monument, along with “igreja de santa maria da alcáçova”, a church within the castle walls.

the views from up there are stunning, green fields all around the castle walls and many squares of rice plantations (and some storks too) due to the proximity of the mondego river.
a vista do castelo

while the castle walls and premises are in reasonably good shape (the paths are clean and the lawns are taken care of, there’s even a little café up there) you can’t really say the same about the church. the frescos and statues could really use a hand. what battles are they trying to tell us about?


other details seem to have stood the test of time a bit better: there are beautiful tiles decorating the walls, writings and a few gravestones on the church floor.

the entrance is free and on the day we were there, there was no soul on sight. a whole castle to yourself, how about that? :)

3 comments to “montemor-o-velho, the castle”

  • Lua says:

    Há algo perfeitamente estranho na tua fotografia. De cada vez que olho para ela tenho a sensação de que o carro andou mais um metro :)

  • Vicki says:

    I am surprised to see rice being grown. How long has it been grown in Portugal? The crops of rice and cotton are the main culprits of the lack of water and drying up of the longest river in Australia.

  • ana says:

    since the 13th century, we probaby make around 100 000 -150 000 tons of rice a year, mainly in the middle of the country. it’s not portugal’s main crop, and i believe the damages are not so dramatic as in the murray river.

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