What can you find in and around Castelo de São Jorge – Lisbon’s castle? Here is all the information for planning your visit to Castelo de São Jorge.
If you will only be in Lisbon for one night, Castelo de São Jorge is at the top of my Lisbon 24 hour checklist – what should I see and do? As you work your way downhill, you will also encounter some of the other treasures that I mention in that article, including a stop for a pastel de Nata at one of Lisbon’s top bakeries.
How to get to the Lisbon Castle
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo
GPS: 38.714114280589946, -9.133486931077218
Getting there: Tram 12 or 28 or Bus 737 from Praça da Figueira. Enter the castle on Rua de Santa Cruz.
Very limited parking is available at Portas do Sol and Chão do Loureiro.
T: 351 218 800 620
An elevator to the castle
The city of Lisbon has two free elevators that cover most of the climb up to St. Jorge’s Castle.
In the flat Baixa neighborhood at Rua dos Fanqueiros 170 / 178, you will find a multistory, blue and white tiled building with a sign on top that says “Elevador Castelo.”
Enter the building and take the elevator up three stories. You will arrive at Rua Madalena, where the elevator going down is called “Elevador Baixa.”
Exit the elevator, cross the street, and head toward Chão do Loureiro.
In the Chão do Loureiro building is the Pingo Doce supermarket.
At the supermarket, you will see an elevator that will take you up to the Restaurante Zambeze’s beautiful terrace.
From there, walk uphill for ten minutes to the castle.
In order to avoid a walk up the incline, simply take bus 737 from Praça da Figueira. The bus stops at the castle entrance.
Castelo São de Jorge Hours
November 1 – February 28:
Every day from 9 am – 7 pm.
March 1 – October 31: 9 am – 9 pm
The castle is most crowded between 10 am and noon and 2 pm and 3 pm.
Last entry one-half hour before closing.
Admission to the castle
General admission is €10.
Young people between the ages of 13 – 25 only pay €5.
Seniors pay €8.50.
People with limited mobility pay €8.50.
Children under 12 are free.
The castle is one of the few sites in Lisbon that is not discounted with the Lisboa Card.
Website: Home – Castelo de São Jorge (castelodesaojorge.pt)
Official guided tours of Lisbon Castle
There are free guided tours provided by the castle’s employees.
The tour lasts 25 minutes and visitors get to see a restricted area that showcases the first settlements on the hill from the 7th century BC, artifacts from the Moorish era in the eleventh century, and the ruins of the royal palace which were destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
Each tour is free and open to 25 participants between 10:30 am and 5 pm.
The caretakers also offer a one-hour Discover the Castle guided tour for €2.50 per person between 10:30 and 4:30.
Pre-registration via email is required.
History of Castelo de São Jorge
There has been a settlement on the top of the tallest hill in Lisbon since the 8th century BC.
Over time, the hill has been occupied by the Celts, the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Muslim Moors.
The Moors built a stone fortress on the hilltop in 1050.
Since 711, Christians had been pushed into the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, and the central and southern parts were held by the Muslims.
In 1139, Afonso Henriques united the Christians in the county of Porto and towns south of Porto, becoming the first King of Portugal.
Along with an army of English knights who were on their way to the crusades, King Afonso Henriques and his men swept into Lisbon and seized the castle from the Moors in 1147.
A large city would grow up around the outside of the castle walls.
King Denis renovated the castle in 1300.
King Ferdinand later added the Fernandina Wall, enclosing most of the castle.
In the 1500s, the royal family moved down to flat land, building a palace on the riverfront at what is today Praça do Comércio.
With the construction of the river palace, the castle became less important. Castelo de São Jorge was damaged by an earthquake in 1531.
Then in 1755 the Lisbon Earthquake nearly destroyed the palace.
As it was rebuilt, Castelo de São Jorge was used as a military barracks.
The Dictator António Salazar restored this castle and others as a point of national pride in the twentieth century.
A monument to Afonso Henriques, the first king, was erected in the castle courtyard in 1947.
Why is the castle dedicated to St. George?
St. George (Jorge) was not Portuguese. St. George is the patron saint of England, so why is a castle in Portugal named after him?
First, English knights helped capture the castle from the Muslims in the Siege of Lisbon. They may have pillaged the city a bit too.
Portugal’s King João married the English princess Phillipa of Lancaster. João dedicated the castle to Saint George, who was also a popular saint among the Portguese.
What is there to see at the Lisbon Castle?
Probably the most impressive things to see at the castle are the sweeping views of the city.
Visitors can also appreciate the history of the site and the remaining architecture of the medieval castle.
And the peacocks that freely roam the grounds are fun to watch as well. The beautiful birds are descended from those that were brought to Portugal from Goa when it was colonized.
As for the remaining architecture, the castle has 10 towers and two central courtyards separated by a defensive wall.
The walls are up to 10 meters high and five meters thick. There are also shorter exterior walls to impede invaders from easily rolling up to the main fortifications.
Among the eleven towers, the most noticeable is the Torre de Menagem (Tower of the Keep).
The Legend of Martim Moniz
During the siege of Lisbon in 1147, the knight Martim Moniz saw the closing door of the castle. He ran and threw his body between the door and the frame, and was crushed, but this allowed the door to remain open, and the Christian knights were able to enter the castle.
The door itself is on the north side of the castle complex, and it overlooks Martim Moniz square down below.
Another famous door is the Door of Treason. The small door is located on the northern wall. Secret messengers entered and exited the castle through this door.
Torre de São Lourenço is an exterior tower on the hillside.
It was common for Moorish castles to have a second battle station near the castle.
Visitors are allowed to check it out, but it is a steep walk back up.
There is Camera Obscura is located in the Tower of Ulysses.
The periscope provides 360-degree views of Lisbon’s sites and residents going about their daily lives.
The best views of the city are on a sunny morning.
From 1378 until the 1755 earthquake all of Portugal’s important documents were contained in this tower, and it was known as the Tumbling Tower (Torre do Tombo) because all of the documents tumbled in.
During the earthquake, the Guardian of the Archives, a 75-year-old man named Manuel da Maia was able to save 90,000 documents from being ruined.
There are also three small underground chambers. In one of them, King Manuel greeted the explorer Vasco da Gama when he returned from his journey to India.
In 1415 King João brought two lions back from North Africa, and he kept them in a part of the palace known as the Casa dos Leões (The Lions’ House). Today the castle’s restaurant goes by the same name.
For more information on the Castelo de São Jorge, see the official website: https://castelodesaojorge.pt/en/
Other Attractions near the Lisbon Castle
- The Alfama neighborhood is Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood. Read my article, The Alfama District – A complete guide to Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia This scenic viewpoint is one of the best spots for photographers in the city.
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol (scenic viewpoint) See my article Miradouro Portas do Sol viewpoint – What you need to know to learn more about one of the most popular sites in the city.
- Lisbon Cathedral (built on the site of the mosque in 1147) Learn more in my Lisbon Cathedral | All you need to know before you go
- Monastery of São Vicente de Fora Ground was broken on the Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora in 1147, and it was completed in 1629. Along with the Museu Nacional do Azulejo – which is not nearby, it is one of the best places to see blue and white Portuguese tile mosaics in Lisbon.
- Santa Engracia (The National Pantheon) You will be curious about this building when you see it from a distance, and you can learn more in my The dome in Lisbon, Santa Engrácia – The National Pantheon of Portugal
- Tram 28 Read my Where does Tram 28 stop? All you need to know about Tram 28 to learn more about this rolling national monument.
Lodging near Lisbon Castle
Hotel Solar do Castelo
Address: Rua das Cozinhas 2
GPS: 38.713284368241126, -9.133564061760122
T: 351 218 806 050
This is the closest hotel to the castle. Hotel Solar do Castelo is a four-star boutique hotel built on the site of the castle’s former kitchens.
Rooms start at €161 euros per night.
Guests will find a complimentary bottle of port when they arrive in their rooms.
The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and room service, a concierge, elevators, air-conditioned rooms, wifi, a laundry service, a lounge, a safe deposit box, a wakeup service, and an honor bar in the room.
To book: https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/solardocastelolisbon.en.html?aid=7930224&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2
Memmo Alfama Design Hotel
Address: Travessa das Merceeiras 27
GPS: 38.71030130106762, -9.130633129580772
T: 351 210 495 660
The four-star Memmo Alfama Design Hotel is extremely well located in the hillside Alfama neighborhood – a tenth of a mile from the cathedral and two scenic viewpoints. The Fado Museum is .2 mile away, and Castelo São Jorge is .3 mile away.
The hotel has a terrace and a pool with views over Alfama and the river.
Rooms start at €114 per night, with breakfast and a walking tour included (if available).
To book: https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/memmo-alfama.en.html?aid=7930224&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2
Hotel Solar dos Mouros
Rua do Milagre de Santo António 6
GPS: 38.71161869830398, -9.133187531077292
T: 351 218 854 940
Hotel Solar dos Mouros is a four-star hotel roughly 1000 feet from Castelo de São Jorge, the Lisbon Cathedral, and the views of Portas do Sol. Some of the hotel’s rooms feature views of the castle. The hotel has a patio with a restaurant and a bar.
Soundproofed, airconditioned rooms come with a flat-screen TV, WiFi, and in-room safes. Room service is available, and guests can enjoy breakfast in their room or on the hotel’s terrace if they choose.
Double rooms starting at €89. Suites with a river view start at €169.
To book: https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/solar-dos-mouros-emp-turisticos-e-hoteleiros-lda.en.html?aid=7930224&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2
Hotel Convento do Salvador
Address: Rua do Salvador 2B
GPS: 38.71292522591294, -9.13001227340656
T: 251 218 872 565
Built in a former convent, the hotel supports the work of the Convento do Salvador Center, a youth center with cultural programming for children. A single room with a city view, air conditioning, and a patio is $89 a night. For an additional $10 breakfast is included.
A double room with one queen bed measuring 161 ft.² with a Cityview and a patio and air conditioning is $102.
A double room with an extra bed and a Riverview and air-conditioning. The same room can be had for $138 with breakfast included.
To book: https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/convento-do-salvador-lisboa.en.html?aid=7930224&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2
This is Lisbon Hostel
Address: Rua da Costa do Castelo 63
GPS: 38.71173650038258, -9.133715915735847
T: 351 218 014 549
Hostelworld Rating -9.6
This is Lisbon Hostel is located in a 19th-century building. It has an excellent hillside location in the Alfama neighborhood between the castle and the cathedral.
The hostel has a bar a rooftop sundeck.
The hostel offers laundry services, lockers, and hot showers.
Beds can be had for as low as €14. Breakfast is an additional €3.
To book: https://www.booking.com/hotel/pt/this-is-lisbon-hostel.en.html?aid=7930224&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2
Final thoughts about Castelo de São Jorge – Lisbon’s castle
The other “castle” in Lisbon is the Belém Tower (It’s not really a castle, but the tower looks like one). An icon of the city since the 1500s, it is a must-see. Surprising Belém Tower facts
Close to the Castelo São Jorge, you will find the Lisbon Cathedral Lisbon Cathedral | All you need to know before you go, and on the opposite hillside is the stunning Convento do Carmo.
Lisbon’s Convento do Carmo Ruins | Everything You Need to Know
If castles interest you, you must visit Sintra before you leave Portugal.
Read my How to plan a day trip or overnight trip to Sintra from Lisbon
Prices may change over time. If you book a hotel mentioned in this article, I could earn a commission. That does not affect the price you will pay. Thank you for reading!