Tuesday, August 22, 2017
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Penela Castle

Penela MedievalIf you travelling between Coimbra and Tomar on the IC3 it is impossible to miss the stunning setting as the castle sits above the town. Approach the castle on a winter’s night you will see it lit by flood lights or on some nights near Christmas the tops of the walls are adorned with numerous fairy lights giving an almost magical feel. Pick the right time of the day as the sun is setting and the Castle will be picked out in beautiful hues of reds, oranges and yellows.

Penela Festival


The castle itself is easy to see from a distance but not always easy to find. Buried high up in a network of ancient streets, it jumps in and out of view as you aim in its general direction, aided and abetted by a route of twisting turning one-way streets.  When you see the Tourist Information, which usually appears on your left, look for a space to park otherwise you may find yourself descending once again in search of that elusive space.

Like many of Portugal’s Castelos entry is free however if you visit at the time of one of the festivals, a charge may be applicable. You can usually tell if this is happening when you see many locals dressed in medieval garb (they don’t dress this way all the time)

The castle was originally built in the 11th Century but most of what you can see is from the 14th and 15th Century with some newer works being carried out after the Earthquake in 1755.



Once inside the main gate (a façade constructed ofChristmas Market at Penela wood) you can explore the outer walls. These are built on what appears to be compacted sand and shingle and the many years of erosion have created large caves beneath the castle walls. I assume these are safe as the Christmas fair houses the full size tableau with real donkey, cows and sheep in the caves. Don’t forget to look out across the valley for some stunning views.




Christmas Tableau at Penela



In the main castle itself, there is plenty to explore, especially for the children. The castle walls are completely accessible for those of you with a strong heart. They are not level, the railings have big gaps between them and the inner walls and some of the outer walls are very low with a big drop….great fun especially when you are watching the kids run along them and play soldiers or cavalry.



Sword Fighting at Penela

Further round, there is the Church of St Michael dating from the 12th Century.

When the Castle holds a medieval or Christmas Fair, they erect a large stage here for shows such as fairy tales and medieval sword fighting.

Watch our calender to find the dates of the next festival at the end of May and don't miss the exciting events held at Penela Castle.

For more information about Peneala read our Penela Town Focus.


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