Abrantes castle and fort are mentioned as a suggestion of places to visit in the Michelin travel guide and it certainly is, but it doesn’t seem to get half the visitors it should.
This is especially so, since the building of the A23 highway that races unannounced past Abrantes as if the city has suddenly stopped existing.
From the highway it’s just a few kilometres to this historical, peaceful and awe inspiring place, it has a view of the surrounding landscape which seems to reach to the boundaries of central Portugal and it gives a vision straight into Portuguese history and the initiation of the country now known as Portugal.
The castle was another step in the reconquista (reconquest) of Portugal from the Moors. The castle goes back before the time of the Roman occupation and was conquered by the Romans in 130 AC and in the twelfth century it was taken back from the Moors by king Afonso Henriques.
Like many castles it sits on top of the town, in this case 197 meters and it has a view over the Tagus valley and surrounding hills and mountains that is unequalled.
It’s a large castle that has undergone much remodelling over the centuries and only few remnants are left of it’s medieval past but it has many interesting architectural aspects including the old church of Santa Maria do Castelo inside it’s walls. Also inside the castle walls are the beautiful castle gardens.
The town of Abrantes is just as historical and a very pleasant place to visit, a mixture of the modern with the old, climbing and descending alleys with views that demand contemplation, narrow winding roads that here and there remind of medieval Lisbon but are uniquely Abrantes and the many monuments you will see as you walk through will softly whisper it’s prosperous and historical past.
Entrance to the castle is free.