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Bairro do Castelo Neighborhood
1. Bairro do Castelo Neighborhood
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Bairro do Castelo

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The Bairro do Castelo Historic Neighborhood is the patriotic and geographic heart of . It was from this location that the city sprouted while it grew and expanded, since the reconquest by the Christians from the Muslims, led by D. Afonso Henriques – first King of Portugal – in .

Crowning the existence of a nearly millennial Portuguese people, the Castelo de São Jorge arises imposing on top of with the Portuguese Flag! This is simultaneously, the touristic epitome of Bairro do Castelo and a mandatory "must go to" for any tourist intending to know . At the top of the castle, it is impossible not to admire the view over the Portuguese capital, the water of the Rio Tejo that calmly flow towards the Atlantic Ocean, and Almada, the city erected on the south margin of the river to which the connection is done through the famous Ponte 25 de Abril and the ferries.

Fans of religious art, may find in this small neighborhood a strong architectural presence dedicated to faith. There are nine churches that lasted until the present and show the importance of religion in the history of Bairro do Castelo and the foundation of . The main highlight is Sé de Lisboa, situated at Encosta da Sé, the first expansion area of Bairro do Castelo outside the citadel walls.

The rivalry existent between Bairro do Castelo and the neighbor Bairro de Alfama takes greater proportions during the popular marches, occurring during the festivities in June honoring Santo António, patron saint of . From Rua de São Tomé until Rua Augusto Rosa lies the most part of an invisible border of two territories well established by the years passage and the stiffer rivalries between the proudest of each neighborhood's sons - it's here that the neighborhoods meet each other and people split from each other, proud of being part of one neighborhood or the other one. To the tourist eyes, everything resembles to an amalgamation of picturesque buildings almost piled on each other to the point where neighbors at the window, in some locations, are nearly able to touch each other just by stretching their arms.

Visit, enjoy and get lost at the streets of medieval lines that carry the weight of the history of at Bairro do Castelo.

Map of Bairro do Castelo

Border area of Bairro do Castelo

Points of Interest

São Jorge's Castle

The São Jorge's Castle is the main touristic and historic highlight of Bairro do Castelo. Conquered by D. Afonso Henriques to the Moors in the year , it would become the official residency of Portuguese Kings – Paço da Alcáçova – in , when D. Afonso III changed the capital of the realm of Portugal from Coimbra to . A National Monument, it is one of the "must visit" sites in !

Tower of São Lourenço

The Tower of São Lourenço is located in the northeast side of Castelo de São Jorge. It's different from the other 11 towers of the fortification because it is 23 meters away from the main wall. One can follow by a descending stairway until the quadrangular tower with 9 meter length and that was used as an advanced defensive outpost. The Tower of São Lourenço was rebuilt in the 20th century, in .

Lisbon Cathedral

The Lisbon Cathedral, also known by Church of Santa Maria Maior, is one of the major religious symbols of the whole city of . It was built in the second half of 12th century, after the conquest of to the Moors by D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal. Currently, Cathedral is simultaneously the head office of 's Parish and the Patriarchate of Lisbon. Since the year that this magnificent building is a national monument.

Church of Conceição-Velha

The Church of Conceição-Velha, or Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha, exists since the times pre-earthquake of . It took the place of the reconstructed building of Church de Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia de Lisboa, the first charity to ever exist in Portugal. The facade of Manuelina Architecture causes commotion to any tourist by the its beauty and detail of the sculptures.

Madalena Church

The Madalena Church is located nearby Lisbon Cathedral. The building is the result of multiple reconstructions of an original edification erected by the command of D. Afonso Henriques somewhere between and in the vicinity of the Muslim Fence. The entrance door's sculpture at Manuelino style is one of the architectonic highlights, exhibiting two typical armillary spheres.

Church of Santa Cruz do Castelo

The Church of Santa Cruz do Castelo is a building constructed in the end of the 18th century, on the precise same spot where a church of the 12th century was devastated by the fearsome earthquake of . When D. Afonso Henriques conquered to the Moors, this was the site of a mosque. The church has the particularity of having its bell tower on top of the wall of Castelo de São Jorge and is connected to the cult of São Jorge.

Church of Santo António

The Church of Santo António is found at the house where Santo António de Lisboa was born in the end of the 12th century. It is a sacred place and where the Christian religious cult is very strong, due to the transversality and prominence of this saint all over the Christian world. The church is side by side with , a space dedicated to the exhibition of religious art pieces.

Romanian Orthodox Church – Church of São Crispim

The Romanian Ortodox Church is currently housed at the small Church of São Crispim. To the most confused one, they are both the same church. This religious center has a very important role in Romanian immigrants lives that tried to reach a better life in Portugal and didn't make it, getting in precarious situations. It is worthy to mention this noble role of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Church of São Cristóvão

The Church of São Cristóvão is located at Largo de São Cristóvão and is dedicated to the cult of São Cristóvão de Lícia. It was rected during the reign of D. Manuel I. Erstwhile, the site was already used for the performance of religious cults, for the church was built on land of a former hermitage devoted to Santa Maria de Alcamim.

Church of Menino Deus

The Church of Menino Deus is located near to Castelo de São Jorge and is a relevant icon of Lisbon's Baroque Art. It was built in by the order of the king D. João V and it was one of the buildings that resisted to the destruction caused by the earthquake of that hit . On the site where it was erected, existed a hospital that belonged to the Third Order of São Francisco de Xabregas.

Church of Santiago

The Church of Santiago is one of the oldest churches of the Portuguese capital. It was already mentioned in documents dating from the year , only thirteen years after the conquest of to the Moors by D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal. It is one of the city's congregations since . During the earthquake of , it suffered severe structural damage, including the collapse of the ceiling and the main facade.

Garden Augusto Rosa

The Garden Augusto Rosa is situated near to the Church of Santo António, the and to the Lisbon Cathedral. Unlike many gardens, it features a sidewalk stone flooring and a few deciduous trees. Close to the statue of the actor that gives the name to the garden, there's a fountain that allows a precious refreshment before going upwards Encosta da Sé. The garden also has a small kiosk.

Garden of Castelo de São Jorge

The Garden of Castelo de São Jorge embellishes with green the walls of Castelo de São Jorge. The stone pavement, the arising of the walls in front of us and the plants and grass well preserved take way our thoughts to distant centuries. Sit down at a esplanade and enjoy of the oldest place of .

Viewpoint of Castelo de São Jorge

The Viewpoint of Castelo de São Jorge possesses an unique beauty for being framed with a centennial military fortification. The view over , the Tagus River and the Bridge 25 de Abril is gorgeous. Looking around, the olive trees, the roman style arcades, the heavy artillery canons on the wall and the esplanade with restaurant delight any visitor passing by.

Chapitô's Viewpoint

The Chapitô's Viewpoint presents a fabulous view over the city of . From here, the reddish roods of the city seem all different from one another, and the West Tower of Terreiro do Paço appears strong and resolved with the waters of the Tagus River as background. In the restaurant Chapitô à Mesa enjoy of an nice meal while the sun setting announces the beginning of a show of lights that come alive by nightfall.

Santo António Museum

The , formerly known by , is situated immediately beside the Church of Santo António. The church was built on the city of the house were Santo António de Lisboa was born and is a place of cult very revered. In the museum, appreciators of religious art can enjoy a collection with sculptures, paintings or ceramics.

Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts

The exhibits the collection of Ricardo Ribeiro do Espírito Santo Silva. It is housed at Palácio Azurara, near to the and Church of Santa Luzia. Here, you'll find pieces in the fields of textile, furniture or jewelry from the periods between the 15th and 18th

Roman Theatre Museum

The exists with the purpose of divulging the architectonic patrimony left by the Roman occupation of the city of . The Ruins of the Roman Theatre are the highlight of the whole exhibition. By that time, the city was called Felicitas Ivlia Olisipo. The museum exists since and is located behind the former Aljube Jail, now, the .

Aljube Museum – Resistance and Freedom

The is the most recent museum of Bairro do Castelo, opening its doors in the year . Here, the facilities of a former jail where were committed numerous atrocities against humanity, there's now an exhibition space allusive to the dictatorship times of Estado Novo in the 20th century and the eternal values of Freedom and Democracy.

Theatre Chapitô

The Chapitô is located at Costa do Castelo and is the only theatre of Bairro do Castelo. It has more than three decades of existence and develops projects in the fields of social action, formation and culture. Since it possesses a theatre company, and there are also animations and a circus school.


By car

On foot

  • Access to the west side by the stairway at the crossroad between Rua da Alfândega and Rua dos Arameiros.
  • Access to the west side by Travessa de Santa Luzia, close to Igreja de Santa Luzia, at Largo de Santa Luzia.
  • Access by Largo das Portas do Sol to the west side.
  • Access to Costa do Castelo at the crossroad with Calçada de Santo André – northeast side of Bairro do Castelo.
  • Access to Costa do Castelo by the Stairway to Costa do Castelo.
  • Access to the northwest side by the stairway that leads from Rua de Santa Justa to Largo de São Cristovão.

Public Transport


Legend and Foundation of Bairro do Castelo

is the third oldest continuously inhabited city of Europe. The Phoenicians, were the first to inhabit it in and called it Alis Ubbo. But mentions to the Portuguese capital, occur since the times before time itself, shrouded of an enchant and mysticism proper of places whose history begins prior any account, manuscript or book, no matter how old they are! The places we name as legendary...

Once, when was still a word to be invented, these lands parallel to the sea were called Offiusa, meaning the Land of Serpents. The yoke over this vast territory was exercised by a queen half woman half serpent that ruled over the rest of the serpents. The queen was proud of her possessions and cried to heaven that no man would ever dare to enter her domains!

Coming from the seas, with the hulls approaching Offiusa, arrived Odysseus, author of great heroic deeds! Soon he became marveled with the beauty of this land and decided, there, to build the capital city of the world, Odyssey.

Over time, the men of Odysseus were succumbing to mysterious deaths, and the warrior defied the skies to reveal his enemy. The serpent queen appear and told him that if he stayed to be her king, he could build the city of his dreams. Due to the ambiguous tone of her voice ranging from a love proposition to a deadly threat, the warrior accepted and deaths came to an end.

The city of Odyssey, the capital of the world, began to be built by Odysseus men, while the serpents women sang charming songs.

Later in time, Odysseus king and lord of Odyssey, started to miss going on new adventure across the seas and his homeland. Aware that was risking his own death if he tried to escape from Odyssey in peace with its queen or ran and got caught, Odysseus was resolute to leave and outlined a plan with his best friend. The friend, with physical similarities to Odysseus, would have to disguise himself as Odysseus and take the queen for a walk that night, while Odysseus escaped via sea from the fetid love of the queen, that was nothing but golden handcuffs.

The walk was already long, when the queen became aware that she was being deceived and bit the friend of Odysseus, that in excruciating pain because of the poison, was forced to confess his friend's escape by sea.

In despair trying to reach Odysseus, who already had a considerable advance in distance, the queen stretched her own body in direction of the sea beyond its physical capacities. Her body contorted in agony until the moment when the last breath of life left the serpent queen, molding the surrounding landscape in the process. Thus, were created the . As for the city, it continued to be inhabited and developed, without the legendary hero Odysseus who sailed the waters towards the horizon, and without snakes who fled lands of after watching their queen's own demise.

Until the Moor occupation on the 8th century, was occupied by the Romans and later the Visigoths. The city was named Felicitas Ivlia Olisipo and Ulishbona, respectively.

In the 11th century, the Moors built the fortification of Castelo de São Jorge with the purpose of protecting the mayor and elites housed in the city in case of an attack by the Christian troops.

On , D. Afonso Henriques – first king of Portugal – conquers from the Moors after a siege that lasted for four months. By that time, the legend of Martim Moniz became known, stating that, allegedly, the man used his own body to prevent a door of the city wall to close and lost his life doing it. This act of courage allowed the Portuguese army to breach the Moor defenses with success. True, or not, that door of the wall is still known nowadays by Door of Martim Moniz.

In the 13th century, by the hand of the king D. Afonso III, would become the capital of Portugal and Castelo de São Jorge would fit as the official residency of Portuguese kings – the Paço da Alcáçova.

The city would expand outside the walls along Encosta da Sé downhill, enlarging that borders of the, in the present, known as Bairro do Castelo.

Between e , the Study and Works of Reintegration discovered traces of Paço da Alcáçova and military infrastructures that were presumed to exist in that site.

Currently, Bairro do Castelo still possesses its original organic and medieval architecture, making the visit to this neighborhood an authentic time travel!