Friday, May 5, 2017

The Castelo de São Jorge

I am nor sure what is about St. George but, there is no question about it, that man got around.

We knew he was a big player in England where he was busy slaying dragons but we were surprised to find him in his Spanish persona in Barcelona where he is the patron saint of Catalonia and in Barcelona they have La Diada de Sant Jordi which promotes books and roses. Kind of a literary Valentines Day.

 We were mystified when we discovered that the castle on the hill here in Lisbon is The Castelo de São Jorge. Yup, same old St. George.

The Castle has a Great View of the City
The castle in its day must have been an imposing sight to any marauding army intend on expanding into the area .The hill it stands on is perfectly located. It gives a clear view of the harbour and has natural steep sides.  The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, the Greeks, and Carthaginians. It was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces.

History tells us that the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade.

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According to local legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticed that one of the doors to the castle was slightly ajar and the knight, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life.

Later, as the royal palace, the castle was the setting for the reception by King Manuel I of the navigator Vasco da Gama when he returned from discovering the maritime route to India in 1498.

It is a very secure fortification. At what is today the entrance to the interior fortifications of the castle assuming invading forces got that far, you can see the slits in the wall that archers could use to shoot from. The idea was used again and again in castles across Europe but these are constructed at a seep angle quite unlike any I have seen before.

From inside the archer had a wide field of view.

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