The seven castles represented in the Portuguese Flag are located in the Algarve Region, having been the castles conquered from the Moors and built by the Christians in the reign of King Afonso III. Its integration into the flag is intended to make the country a whole, no longer talking about the “Kingdom of the Algarves”.
The castles are: Aljezur Castle, Sagres Fortress, Estômbar Castle, Albufeira Castle, Paderne Castle, Cacela-a-Velha Castle and Castro Marim Castle
Aljezur Castle is located on a schist hill, having been built in the 10th century by the Moors and conquered in the 13th century by the Christians of the Order of Santiago, commanded by Sir Paio Peres Correia.
The castle was part of the defensive system of Silves, having been one of the last Islamic castles to be conquered by the Cristians.
Between the end of 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, the castle was abandoned, as it lost its importance as a defensive post, due to the silting up of Ribeira de Aljezur. Another reason that contributed to its abandonment has to do with the reduction of importance at a strategic level that the village of Aljezur came to lose, given that there were more important defensive posts in the Algarve region.
The Sagres Fortress was built in the 15th century at the behest of Infante D. Henrique, having been the site of major wars for centuries, and containing a geo-strategic maritime defensive system.
The fortress was intended to guard the trade routes made at the junction of the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean and also to defend possible pirate attacks.
Estômbar Castle also known as “ Abenabeci Castle”, is located in one of the oldest villages in the Algarve, having been called in Arab times as “Sabanus”.
Its mission was to defend the navigation of the Arade River and access to Silves, through which commercial traffic was carried out.
The castle was also considered the center of the economy, due to the salt explorations that were carried out there.
This would have been conquered by the Christians, first in 1191 under the command of King Sancho I, however this was only conquered in its entirety in the reign of King Afonso III.
Albufeira Castle was built at the behest of King Afonso III, with the function of guarding and defending possible invasions.
Most of its structure and the population’s houses were destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, but the population rebuilt their houses through the parts of the wall that had remained standing.
In 1833, the castle was destroyed again, but it was by the troops of the “Remexido”, which made it lose its military function, thus leading it to a period of decay.
Paderne Castle was built in the Almohad period, having been part of a set of fortresses that were built with the aim of forming a defensive line to prevent possible attacks by Christians, at the time of the Cristian Reconquest, This is the only one in the Iberian Peninsula that has its original structure, being made of rammed earth.
The castle was conquered several times from the Moors, however, it was only in 1248 that it was definitely conquered by the troops of Sir Paio Peres Correia, in the reign of King Afonso III.
In the 16th century, its population moved to the current village of Paderne, which left the castle in disrepair. Later, with the earthquake of 1755, it was badly damaged, but it was only officially closed in 1858.
The Cacela-a-Velha Fortress, despite having military importance, was abandoned in the mid-13th century. However, this was one of the last to be conquered by the Christians.
King D. Afonso III, in 1255, with the consent of his wife, Lady Beatriz of Castile, donated this fortress and the castle of Ayamonte to Sir Paio Peres Correia, and later reconstruction and expansion works were carried out.
In the 16th century, when it was in ruins again, it was rebuilt at the behest of King John III, with the bastion lines being placed.
Castro Marim Castle
Castro Marim Castle was built in the 13th century at the behest of King Afonso III on ancient Roman and Muslim fortifications. The village grew, first, within the castle walls and, later, began to develop outside the walls as well.
In the reign of King Dinis, after the extinction of the Knights Templar by Pope John XXII, the village of Castro Marim was donated to the Order of Christ, which established its first headquarters there until 1356, however it was transferred to Tomar in reign of King Peter I, which made the importance of the village decrease and there began to be a depopulation.
Already in the reign of King Manuel I, the town received the Foral Novo, thus originating the repair of its defenses, mainly the castle walls.