Coming up from the city, visitors enter Leiria Castle through the Albacara Gateway. Inside this defensive bastion, there are various historical points of interest that have been well preserved. They include the Church of Nossa Senhora da Pena, the former Royal Palaces and the Keep in addition to wonderful views out over the surrounding countryside.
The architecture clearly indicates the medieval origins of this city. It was conquered by the first king of Portugal Afonso Henriques in 1135. He ordered a small chapel be built in honour of Our Lady of Mercy before handing over this military stronghold to Paio Guterres, the first governor of Leiria. Towards the end of the century, the castle walls were reinforced by king Sancho I after the region was finally secured by the Christian crusaders.
An inscription on the Keep reveals it was built at the same time as the Royal Palaces on the initiative of king Dinis in 1324 who also ordered the reconstruction of the Church.
Far removed from its original role, the Castle again took on a prominent role in the city’s history at the beginning of the 20th century. It was innovatively restored by Ernesto Korrodi and the Liga dos Amigos do Castelo (League of Castle Friends). Together, they did much to improve Leiria’s urban landscape.
Currently, the walled enclosure is ideal for a historical stroll and a centre-piece of Leiria providing a vantage point for looking out over the city’s history and development.
In the castle quarter, you will see fine examples of street art depicting major novels of Portuguese literature, along with inviting shops and pleasant cafés, where you can surrender to the Southern European way of life: finding pleasure in the small things and living life to the fullest!
There is something quite unique about the castle of Leiria, some sort of mysterious aura, attracting the Gothic tribes every year in August for a dark yet exciting music festival called Entremuralhas (literally, within the castle walls).On your way up to the castle, take the chance to visit the Cathedral of Leiria, dating back to the 12th century, and the Museum of Image in Motion – m|i|m|o.
Another curiosity about Leiria: did you know that the clock tower of the Cathedral is located in the castle area, so that everyone could hear the calling for church?
ScheduleGuided toursTuesday-Saturday: 10 am and 2 pm
After 3 years of renovation works, the iconic Castle of Leiria has reopened its doors to the public. More accessible and easier to explore. A brand new castle to discover!
This is actually one of the biggest investments in culture and heritage preservation in Portugal. The Castle of Leiria is now more accessible to visitors, offering three lifts, as well as a new amphitheatre and several relaxing areas. Local botanical species were placed in order to substitute other species that endangered the structure of the castle.
Quite remarkable is also the renovation of several indoor structures of this stunning monument, such as the ticket office, the medieval tanks and Pena Church that is now covered.
April to SeptemberEveryday from 09:30 - 18:30 (last entrance at 17:30)On show days: opening one hour earlier and closing one hour later October to March Everyday from 09:30 - 17:30 (last entrance at 16:30)On show days: opening one hour earlier and closing one hour later