Castles in Portugal’s Alentejo – Juromenha

Today’s photographs were taken with the Canon Powershot 200 SCX in one hand while the other hand gripped an umbrella. The camera was set on Live View and shots edited in Lightroom. It is an extraordinary little camera which even copes with shots taken from inside a moving car.

The road between Vila Vicosa and Juromenha, in the rain
The road between Vila Vicosa and Juromenha, in the rain

Juromenha Castle is startling – lonely, atmospheric, deserted, powerful. It towers over the Guadiana River, the border with Spain, from its hilltop position and it is easy to imagine it as a garrisoned town guarding the border, or even under attack. But can you imagine what it was like to be a soldier under orders to cross the river and take the castle? This is a must-visit site in this part of Portugal, in any weather.

Juromenha & the Guadiana River

A fortification at Juromenha is ‘…first mentioned in the second half of the 9C…’ as part of the defense of Badajoz, belonging to the Caliphate of CordobaIt was only in 1242 that the Portuguese finally reconquered the fortress which was renovated in 1312 by order of King Dinis as part of his fortifications along the Portuguese border with Spain. In the 17C the fortifications were developed according to the Vauban system by Nicholas Langres who also worked at Mourão. (So there are walls from both the 13C and 17C.) This was another castle which suffered a powder magazine explosion (like Terena) and which was severely affected by the earthquake of 1755. Restoration has been undertaken in the 20C but the site is very much a ruin today.

Juromenha Castle, taken from Google maps, with 13C walls inside 17C fortifications
Juromenha Castle (Google maps) with 13C walls inside 17C fortifications

We entered through the 17C gateway and walls on the lower left of the map above.

The Gateway in the 17C walls, Juromenha

The Gate into Juromanha Castle

Inside the walls of the castle there are the remains of the Chapel of Mercy and the Parish Church, and I think the Governor’s House. There was also a Town Hall and a cistern to supply the town but I am not clear where these were.

The Chapel of Mercy, Juromenha Castle
The Chapel of Mercy, Juromenha Castle, with a Mediaeval (or Moorish?) square tower behind the Chapel

The atmospheric Parish Church is in ruins inside the building.

The Parish Church in Juromenha Castle

The Parish Church in Juromenha Castle

The Parish Church in Juromenha Castle

The remains of a building lean against the 13C walls; could these be barracks? The Town Hall ruins?

Ruins in the Moorish Walls

I saw this crest on the Governor’s House and would have liked to explore further, but it was wet, and dark, and the building look insecure…

The crest on the Governor's House in the Castle of Juromenha

Above all this is a military fortification.

The Castle of Juromenha The Castle of Juromenha The Castle of Juromenha The Castle of Juromenha

You may be interested in
A brief history of Juromenha fortress
Juromenha – nice photographs in the sunshine & interesting post

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