Silves Castle

This is the finest example of a Moorish castle that Portugal has to offer! It was originally built during the Roman times, however, it was when the Moors held the Algarve region throughout the 8th to the 13th centuries that this castle was really transformed! It was declared a National Monument in 1910.

This castle would at one point have housed Islamic nobility, governers and their soldiers and administration.

Muslims were expelled from the castle in 1249 and despite restorative work, it still strongly demonstrates Arab architecture.

Located on the highest point of Silves, a hill rising out of the Arade river, it really is an impressive stronghold. With an irregular polygon form built from red sandstone from Silves itself, this castle can be seen throughout the city and also from the surrounding countryside – especially at night when the exterior walls are all lit up. Given its vantage point, there are spectacular views to be seen out over the town.

At the main entrance, there is a bronze sculpture of King D. Sancho, the monarch in 1189, he conquered the city of Silves to Arabs. Either side of the main entrance is two of the eleven defensive towers, which help to form the round pathway. Visitors can walk around this patrol route and imagine what it must have felt like during more war-troubled times.

On the northern side of the castle is another door called the “Gate of Betrayal” where some used to take mercy on their enemies and let them escape through.

Inside, visitors can see the Aljibe, a large, rectangular cistern that used to provide water to a significant portion of the city as well as a well, with a deep 40-foot drop, from which many medieval artefacts have been retrieved that herald back to the castles Islamic period of occupation.

The inside is also said to be occupied by a ghost! There is also now a Moorish-style garden for visitors to walk around too.

Nowadays, this church becomes a prime location for celebrations during the 10 day long Silves Medieval Fair every August!

How to get there

Silves enjoys a relatively central location within the Algarve (it was once historically the capital) and as such, travel from nearby areas is relatively simple.

There is free parking throughout Silves, though it is worthwhile noting that many of Silves streets are very narrow and probably not suitable for parking in. There is the main car park in the centre of town, from which it is approx a 10/15 minute walk to the castle.

There are regular busses from many of the surrounding towns and cities that will easily bring you into Silves for only a couple of euros!

The train could also be an option, however, we must note that Silves train station is not in the town centre and is instead approx 2km out from the centre of town, meaning that a bus or taxi would be required to bring you to the centre of town, from where you can walk to the castle easily.

Ticket prices, opening hours and booking

Silves Castle is open every day of the week. From January to March, it is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm. From April to October 20th it is open from 9 am to 8 pm and then from October 21st to December it is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm. The last entry is 30 minutes prior to closing but I would definitely recommend giving yourself longer than this when visiting.

For adults, the tickets cost €2.80 and for children/students/seniors the cost is €1.40.

Tickets can be purchased upon arrival, however, if you wish to make a day of it and perhaps visit other sites that Silves has to offer, such as the cathedral and museum, then many websites offer you the option to book on to package deals. These can be a good option, to get reduced price entry to several different places of interest, or if you know you only have specific days you can visit, it will help you to ensure that you will definitely get in on your chosen day. One such offering is available here:

If you’re interested in the history of Portugal and in particular the Moorish history of Portugal, then this castle is a must see!

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