Monday, January 10, 2011
Castelo Sao Jorge
Today we made it to Castelo Sao Jorge which towers over the city of Lisboa with a long history. The earliest fortifications previously known in this location dated back to the 2nd century BC, but an archeological site within the castle walls is in the process of unearthing Iron Age ruins dating back to 500ish BC as well as Roman ruins. Around 700 AD, the the Moors took the site from the Visigoths and heavily fortified it. In 1147, during the second crusade, the Christians took it back after Martim Moniz threw himself into the last closing gate, giving his life so that the Christians could enter and defeat the Moors. More fortification followed and the castle defended Portuguese royalty from Spain until the 16th century. Though it was a formidable defender against Spain, the earthquake of 1755 left it in ruins until the late 1920's when Lisboa began to rebuild. Inside the castle walls was a huge vista overlooking the city lined with medieval cannons, romantic gardens with moss-covered fountains and statues, high ramparts to explore with long deep slits in the thick walls to rain arrows down on the enemies, wishing wells, cats and peacocks. Pretty much a little-boy medieval playground. Due to excessive grogginess we took it slow, in a very dazed and dream-like fashion along the high stone walls with low safety rails. Another day when we are not so tired we will go back so the boys can play like proper boys at a castle, though perhaps only in the low areas so we do not have to maneuver a hospital visit in Portuguese.