Castelo de Silves

Castle - Medieval Islamic Period, Middle Ages, Modern Age e Contemporary Period (46)
This castle is located at the top of a small hill, overlooking the right bank of the Rio Arade, in a bordering area between the Barrocal area (typical limestone ranges in the Algarve) and the Baixo Alentejo region. This location gifted the castle with a good visual dominance over the territory, performing a pivotal role in river activities and terrestrial movement. The fortification is composed by the wall, which encloses a total area of about 12.000m2 and by the castle/alcazaba, positioned at the highest point on the hill, adjusted to the terrain's topography. This castle can be integrated in the Umayyad castle typology, with parallels with the Syrian-Palestinian constructions of the same period. The castle presents a polygonal blueprint, occupying a total area of 12.000 m2, with walls 2.80m thick, elaborated in rammed earth and coated by red sandstone, integrating a set of 12 rectangular towers and three gates that provide the access to the alcazaba. Inside the alcazaba, traces of a "fortress-palace" were identified, with a bathing complex that reflects an Umayyad architectural tradition (8th - 9th century), two residential areas with two floors and an inner garden chronologically framed in the 12th - 13th-centuries, three cisterns, one of which of large dimensions (aljibe) and a set of silo-type storage structures. The architectural features of this castle and the domestic structures of its bailey are integrated in the Umayyad constructive tradition (8th - 9th century), with Almoravid / Almohad refurbishing (12th - 13th century), representing an important defensive and population core of the Algarve. During the reign of D. Afonso III in mid-13th century, the Castelo de Silves was conquered by Christian troops, with records of the abandonment and restructuring of some defensive and residential structures. During the 14th and 15th-centuries, renovations of the Silves walls were documented but the silting of the river and the desirability for coastal locations lead to the decrease of this city's strategic importance. During the Portugal liberal wars of the 19th century, part of this defensive complex was repaired. Later on, it is recorded the deactivation and even obliteration of some parts of these structures. The on-site archaeological works that have occurred since the 1980s, are part of a research project lead by Rosa Varela Gomes, and later on, during safeguard interventions. These works allowed the identification of the referred structures, as well as a set of diverse materials (ceramic vessels, metallic artefacts, military artefacts, architectural elements), chronologically framed in 7th - 13th century (Islamic Medieval period), 13th - 14th century (Medieval Christian period) and Modern times.


The Silves Municipal Archaeological Museum is within the walls of the old city. Ticket Purchase On Site: Castle or Museum + Castle. Silves Castle integrates of the Mediterranean Diet Route, the Al-Mutamid Route and the Algarve Umayyad Route.

Visit conditions

Entrance with admission ticket


Opening hours: From October 16th to May 31th 09.00 - 17.30 June 09. 00 to 19.00 From July 1st to August 31 9.00 to 22.00 From September 1st to October 15th 9.00 to 20.00



    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:


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