Our days in the Alentejo always included a castle and so after walking we visited Amieira do Tejo, a Mediaeval village high above the Tagus River in beautiful countryside.
Amieira and its castle were built as part of defences along the Tagus River by the Hospitallers in support of the King and as part of the first steps in retaking the country from the Moors. The area was given to the Hospitallers c.1194, but the castle was only built in the 14C. Other fortresses in the defence line are Tomar, Almourol, Abrantes, Belver, and Santarem – which we planned to visit on our way back to the airport in Lisbon.
The Castle was completed in c.1362, commissioned by Álvaro Gonçalves Pereira, Prior of the Order of Hospitallers, the same Order whose headquarters were in Crato and which also built today’s Pousada at Flor da Rosa. The building is unusual in that it is the only square castle in Portugal. Conservation work was carried out as part of a plan to rejuvenate the small town and bring in tourists, but apparently this has not succeeded. I think conservation projects like this could succeed if people were prepared to linger in Portugal as independent travellers, not in guided tours which dash through the major sites, several in one day.
The Keep was used as a prison in the 15C and 16C, and the central courtyard/parade ground and cistern are still clear.
The astonishing Chapel of St John the Baptist dates from 1556. (Note the Cross of Malta over the doorway, the sign of the Order.)