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.
Tuesday-Saturday: 10 am and 2 pm