Estremoz Castle              

Estremoz, Portugal                
Like much of the rest of Portugal, Estremoz spent time under the control of Rome, the Visigoths and the Moors. Gerald the Fearless (died 1173) reclaimed Estremoz for Portugal in the 12th century, the Moors yanked it back, then King Sancho II (1209-1248), who was known primarily for wearing a cape, took it back for good in the mid-13th century.

The high ground overlooking Estrevoz presented itself to all observers as an excellent place from which to oversee and if necessary enslave its surrounding area. Fortifications of various sizes have existed on the mountain since Roman times. King Dinis (1261-1325) rebuilt the castle at Estremoz as a royal palace for his wife, Elizabeth of Aragon (1271-1336), where she died of the black plague. A chapel was built at the castle in her honor in 1625, when she was canonized for being such a cool lady.

In 1384, Nuno Alvares Pereira (1361-1431) used Estremoz Castle as his headquarters as he defended the region from the forces of Castile during the 13831385 Crisis, a period of civil war in Portugal. Pereira led his troops to victory at the Battle of Atoleiros (April 6 1384), effectively employing the infantry square for the first time in combat against the Castilian cavalry...the first time in the somewhat modern era, that is.

Estremoz was known far and wide for its fine marble, which over the centuries has been exported to India, Africa and Asia. Estremoz marble used by the Romans to build the Circus Maximus of Emerita Augusta in Spain, as well as a number of other well-known structures I've never heard of. The castle's central keep, reaching nearly 30 meters high, is built entirely of local marble. Portugal is second only to Italy in the export of marble, and 85% of Portugal's marble comes from the Estremoz region.

Forces based at Estremoz Castle took part in the Battles of Ameixial (1663) and Montes Claros (1665) during the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668), again against those pesky Castilians. An unintentional gunpowder explosion did a great deal of damage to the castle in 1689.

In the 1980's the town set about reconstructing the castle, which had been allowed to crumble a bit. Today Estremoz Castle offers accomodation and dining...and I'll bet there's plenty of marble on hand at all times!

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Estremoz Castle?
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