Lisbon

São Jorge Castle

One of the most famous attractions of Lisbon, the São Jorge Castle is both a great place to visit and the best viewpoint where to admire the city.

Wherever you are in the center of Lisbon, all you need to do is looking up and seeing the suggestive view of São Jorge Castle perched on a hill where the first settlements of the city were founded.

You don’t need to be a history geek to get excited when you see the castle; it is a reassuring image that represents an element that has been there for thousand of years, as well as a very romantic view, especially at night time when the castle is lighted up creating a very magical atmosphere.

Last but not least, from the castle it is possible to enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the city and the river…

With its majestic walls, the shady tree-lined-avenues and its quiet gardens,  São Jorge Castle is one of the most fascinating places in Lisbon where you should spend at least half a day.

What to visit in the complex

The view of Lisbon and the Castle

São Jorge Castle is a monumental complex made of buildings, ruins, and gardens; a complete visit around the property may last a few hours. If you happen to be hungry don’t worry; inside the castle there is a coffee bar and Casa do Leão restaurant. Here are the main attractions you should visit:

Castle

The area of the complex recognised as the “castle” is a fortress built by the Moors during the first half of the 11th century. Despite its name, it was not a royal palace: it was a militar barracks that could host the governor and the noble class of the city in case of siege.

It is not even the oldest complex built on this hill; it was actually the last defensive bastion built by the Moors to protect the upper class in the”ciutadela”. Historical testimonies confirm the presence of inhabited settlements from very ancient times.

What makes this fortress particularly charming is its location; built in the most difficult area to access at the top of the hill, making use of the natural slopes, the castle has a majestic and suggestive presence. The view of the castle within the centuries must have been pretty intimidating.

Ruins of the old Royal Palace

Starting from the 13th century, the ancient Moorish buildings were extended and adapted to host the royal court, the bishop, and the royal archives; in the 14th century the transformation of the military fortress into a royal palace was already completed. The complex started playing again a defensive-military role between the 17th and the 18th century.

The most important ruins and remains of the old royal palace are the buildings that today hosts the permanent exhibition, the caffetteria, and the restaurant. Other architectonic elements that belong to the royal palace can be seen in the romantic garden and the gallery.

Permanent exhibition

The castle hosts a permanent exhibition about the history of Lisbon with several archeological finds; a collection covering more than two thousand years of history with a special focus on the Moorish age that goes from the XI and the XII century.

Dark Room

One of the most fascinating attractions of the São Jorge Castle is the Dark Room, where you can admire the interior of the Ulysses Tower, which is dedicated to the founder of the city.

A periscope placed at the top of the tower captures a 360º view over the city, and thanks to an ingenious system of lenses and mirrors it provides a very unique viewpoint.

You can observe the city in real time with its monuments and its main areas, the river, and the bustle of people walking up and down without being aware of your curious eyes.

Panoramic Viewpoints

If all the above mentioned attractions don’t call your attention, it is still worth to visit the castle just to admire the extraordinary sight of the city.

Thanks to its location, the look point of the Sâo Jorge Castle beats all the other panoramic views of Lisbon; it is by far the best point to admire this beautiful city from above, even better at sunset in order to add a romantic touch to your experience.

If you are passionate about photography you can just go crazy and do not worry if your skills are not great; with such an amazing subject you will take some extraordinary pictures.

Gardens

The gardens of the castle are a small green oasis within the city, where you can rest and enjoy some fresh air. Here there are some different types of trees: from olive trees to maritime pine trees, carobs, and other native species from Portugal.

Archaeological site

The only area of the castle where it is possible to access exclusively with a guided tour is the archaeological site that includes some ruins dating back to important times within the history of Lisbon; the 7th century B.C. which dates back to the first inhabited settlements, the Islamic era during which the castle was built, and the period immediately after the earthquake.

Tickets to São Jorge Castle

Entrance to the castle is paid: ticket price includes free guided tours in English, Spanish and Portuguese that take place several times a day, but you can also visit the castle independently.

Skip-the-line entrance to São Jorge Castle

Given the large daily influx of visitors to Lisbon Castle, it is advisable to book tickets in advance directly online by clicking below. By purchasing the ticket online it will be possible to avoid the queues that form every day at the ticket offices.

Guided Tours to the Castle

If you want a guide to show you more Lisbon’s attractions you can book an online tour.

Opening Hours

Sao Jorge Castle is open daily from 9am to 7pm. Closed 1 January, 1 May, 24, 25, 31 December.

Last admission 30 minutes before closing time.

Did you know…

Useful information

Address

R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portogallo

Contacts

TEL: +351 21 880 0620

Timetables

  • Monday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Tuesday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Wednesday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Thursday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Friday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Saturday: 09:00 - 21:00
  • Sunday: 09:00 - 21:00

Transports

Bus stops

  • Castelo (199 mt)
  • Martim Moniz (275 mt)

Where is located São Jorge Castle

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How to save on transport and entrance fees

City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.

Lisbon Card: 24, 48, or 72-Hour Pass
Lisbon Card: 24, 48, or 72-Hour Pass
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