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Photographer's Note

Photo taken in the year of 1989 when i was serving the portuguese army in a headquarter nearby. The machine used to take this picture was a PRAKTICA BCA (my first machine) and was taken using a tripod and a quite big exposure. This it's a scan made of the picture i have in paper, cause unfortunelly my scan it's old like me (hehe) and can't handle negatives.

The Castle Story

The Castle of Almourol is situated in a small rocky island, in the middle of the Tagus river, in Portugal. The castle was a Templar Knights stronghold used during the Reconquer.

The origins of the occupation of this site are ancient. It is believed it was a primitive lusitanian redoubt and was occupied from Roman times until the late Middle Ages. It is certain that in 1129, when Portuguese troops conquered the land, the castle already existed and was called Almorolan.

It was given to the Templar Knights, who then made the settlement between the Mondego and the Tagus rivers. They were also the main responsible ones for the defence of the capital, then Coimbra, the castle was rebuilt and it assumed the architectural characteristics that still today can be observed.

Through an epigraph, placed on the main gate, we know that the reconstruction ended in 1171, two years after the building of the Castle of Tomar. There are several characteristics common to both, in the same style of military Templar architecture. Both opted for a quadrangular disposal of the spaces. The high walls are protected by nine circular towers. There is a jail tower at the center of the structure.

These last characteristics constitute two of the innovative elements with that the Templar Knights brought to the military architecture in Portugal. The jail, which appeared only in 11th century in Tomar, the main Templar defensive redoubt in Portugal tower, is unusual in pre-Romanic castles. The jail tower of the castle of Almourol had three levels and was significantly modified during its long centuries, while it still retaining important original characteristics. On the other hand, the design of walls with equal towers in the sides, was brought to the west of the Iberian peninsula by these knights

The Order of the Templar Knights became extinct, and the reconquer, which justified its importance in the medieval times, ended and the Castle of Almourol was forgotten. The castle was reinvented, as a chivalric and romantic ideal of the Middle Ages, in the 19th century. Many of the original structures were destroyed in an attempt to create a masterpiece and an emblematic medieval monument without remaining true to its heritage.

In the 20th century, the site was adapted the be an Official Residence of the Republic. Some important events of the dictatorial regime that devastated Portugal happened here.

This Castle is found on the Tagus River Islet in the municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha and may be visited without charge. Visitors only pay for a cheap boat trip (0,50 euro).

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Additional Photos by Antonio Sousa (ajcsousa) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 445 W: 63 N: 529] (1804)
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