Castelo Velho de Alcoutim

Castle - Medieval Islamic Period ((século VIII - XIII ou 711 - 1249 - conquista definitiva do Algarve - o limite superior deste período varia de acordo com a data da Reconquista cristã das diferentes regiões de Portugal)) (2649)
The Old Castle of Alcoutim is located at the top of the Saint Barbara hill, in an enhanced position over the Guadiana River, about 1km north of the town of Alcoutim. This location at the top of the hill would grant the castle an important role in overseeing all river traffic (located halfway between Mértola and the seaside), as well as the exploration of mines on the surrounding territory. The archaeological works identified fortified structures, habitation buildings and a diverse set of materials, chronologically framed between the 8th and 12th century (Islamic Medieval period: Emirate / Caliphate / Taifa Kingdoms) The fortification is composed of three lines of walls, adjusted to the topography of the terrain, which integrates in the Umayyad castle typology, displaying a connection with the Syrian-Palestinian constructions of the same period. The two fortified enclosure has square shaped blueprints. The top fortress (hisn) has an area of 704 m2 enclosing a set of solid towers, square and rectangular in shape. The second line of walls, apparently the oldest one, encloses the top fortress as well as a small, urban nucleus. Besides habitational and/or storage areas and streets, a small mosque was identified in the proximity of the lower/outer enclosure. In its south-eastern walls (quibla - indicating the direction of Mecca) a mihrab is found (a location for prayer with a rectangular blueprint and apsidal shape), as well as a door that connects with a small courtyard. The Old Castle of Alcoutim was abandoned by the end of the 11th century or beginning of the 12th century (Taifa instability period), for unknown reasons.


The archaeological site is protected by a fence, and it is possible to carry out guided tours by booking in the Alcoutim Municipal Council. The Old Castle of Alcoutim is integrated in the Route of the Mediterranean Diet and in the Umayyad Route of the Algarve.

Visit conditions

By booking




    How to get there? Best practices

    Best practices

    Good practices when visiting archaeological sites

    To visit an archaeological site is to connect with our origins, to understand our path and evolution as a species integrated in the environment, and to respect and safeguard our heritage so that future generations can also visit and enjoy it.

    Walking the paths and enjoying the structures and archaeological pieces that survived over time, fosters the understanding of what is different, but also of what is common among different populations: basically, what identifies us as Homo Sapiens.

    More than just vestiges and ruins of the past, archaeological sites showcase our capacity for creative thought, adaptation, interconnection, comprehension and resilience. Without these traits we would not have been successful as cultural beings participating in an ongoing evolutionary process. These sites also allow to consider choices made in the past thus contributing for decisions in the present to be made with greater awareness and knowledge.

    Archaeological sites are unique and irreplaceable. These sites are fragile resources vulnerable to changes driven by human development. The information they keep, if destroyed, can never be recovered again.

    As such, the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) invites all visitors to enjoy the beauty and authenticity of these sites, while helping to preserve them for future generations by adopting the following set of good practices:

    • Respect all signs; 
    • Do not try to access fenced areas; 
    • Do not climb, sit or walk on archaeological structures and remains; 
    • Respect areas where archaeological excavations are being carried out, not disturbing them; 
    • Do not collect materials or sediments;
    • Do not write or make graffiti on archaeological structures; 
    • Put the garbage in appropriate containers. If none exist, take the garbage with you until you find a suitable container; 
    • Leave the archaeological site as you found it; 
    • Do not drive bicycles or motor vehicles over archaeological sites; 
    • Respect and protect the plants and animals that live in the areas surrounding archaeological sites;
    • Report signs of vandalism or destruction to DGPC or Regional Directorates of Culture (DRC);
    • Share the visiting experience and the archaeological sites, as a way of raising awareness to their preservation and making them better known;
    • Do not buy archaeological materials and report to public security authorities, DGPC or DRC, if you suspect that archaeological materials may be for sale.

    Further information:

    AIA / ATTA (2013) – Guide to best practices for archaeological tourism. 

    Raposo, J. (2016) – Código de conduta para uma visita responsável a sítios arqueológicos. In Sítios arqueológicos portugueses revisitados: 500 arqueossítios ou conjuntos em condições de fruição pública responsável. Al-madan, 2ª série, p. 20 – 77. 

    DGPC contacts

    Phone: +351213614200 | Email:


    5 Voted for this site