Postcard from Sintra, Portugal: Mounting the Moorish Castle

Stair-stepped trails cushioned with leaves and pine needles wind their way up from Sintra through the heavily forested Park of Pena – up and up, higher and higher – to the Moorish Castle.

Not one, but two walls, encircle and fortify the post established by invading Moors during the 10th century to provide views to protect their claim. And what views their towers provided, out across the surrounding hills and valleys clear to the sea, five or six miles away.

While the post was secure, Moorish forces in Lisboa nearby were not. Soldiers of the Second Crusade joined forces with those of King Alonso I of Portugal in the summer of 1147 and surrounded the city. After a four-month siege imprisoning them, the starving Moors finally surrendered, a surrender including the fortress.

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Assuming duty on a blustery day must have been dangerous. Truly scared the winds snatching at my long, full skirt and sun-shading sombrero would send us soaring like a kite over the ramparts and crashing into the valley below. The fear led to failure to conquer the absolutely highest outlook.

But even this geographical dominance was subject to one-upmanship. A subsequent post.