Castle of Penela

The Castle of Penela is a Portuguese fortification in proximity of Coimbra and Tomar, in central Portugal. It is listed as National Monument since early 20th century.

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The fortress was originally built in the 11th century, on a site that had been a military strategical place since Roman times. Most surviving parts of the castle date from the 14th and 15th centuries,. These are a ring of walls comprising 12 towers of which 4 are left today and the donjon or the Clock Tower and the Castelejo. Shaped like an irregular polygon, the castle is a mixture of Romanesque and International Gothic architecture.

The 2 surviving gates of Penela castle are the Town gate and the Gate of Treason, incorporated in a Moorish square tower. However, the main entrance to the castle is now another doorway called the "Breach of the disappeared". It has a facade made of wood and a massive bastion, and the walls have caves beneath them, caused by erosion. At the Christmas fair, the Nativity scene is housed in these caves and on festivals such as St. Michael's Day, in September, locals dressed in medieval clothing populate the castle.

Exploring the inside of the castle is exciting and challenging, since the floors are narrow and uneven. The castle courtyard houses the 12th century Church of St. Michael, a triple aisle basilica with Renaissance decorations on the inside, dating from the 16th century renovations, a gilt woodwork retable and Renaissance sculptures. There is also an amphitheater and the Museum of sacred Art.

A superb feature of the skyline, the Castle of Penela is complemented by a fantastic setting, if lit bright red by the sunset or by flood lights and fairy lights on the walls on Christmas and winter nights.

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Castle of Penela

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