Santiago do Cacém Castle

The Castle of Santiago de Cacém, Alentejo, located in town, parish and county of the same name, in the district of Setúbal, Portugal.

In a dominant position on a modest hill nearby the Atlantic coast and the port of Sines, controlled the nearby plain. Currently integrates the Tourism Region of the Costa Azul.


The early human occupation of your site dates back to Celtic tribes. At the time of Romanization of the Iberian peninsula, the then existing town was named as Miróbriga, integrating the convent jurisdiction of Pax Julia (now Beja).

Occupied by the Alans during the first decades of the fifth century, was abandoned in the sixth century, and the population moved to the nearby hill, closer to the sea. The new settlement was successively dominated by the Visigoths and the beginning of the second decade of the eighth century by Muslims, when it became known as Kassen.



The medieval castle
At the time of the Christian Reconquista of the peninsula, Santiago do Cacém was first taken in 1158, in the context of Alcacer do Sal conquest by the forces of King Afonso Henriques (1112-1185). Similarly, it would be recovered between 1190 and 1191 by the forces of the Almohad caliph Abu Yusuf Ya’qub al-Mansur when resumed that city.

Since 1186 Sancho I of Portugal had donated to the Order of Santiago areas of Almada, Palmela and Alcacer do Sal The first two had been reconquered prior to 1194.; the last remained in Muslim possession until 1217. This year, under the reign of Alfonso II (1211-1223), Cacém definitely passes into possession of Portugal, when their fields were also donated to the Order of the Knights, passing these monks warriors to take up the reconstruction of their defenses. From this period, the town becomes known for her current place name: Santiago do Cacém, dating this stage its first charter.

Under the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325), the castle was owned by Vataça Lascaris (Dona Vetácia), nurse and friend of Queen Santa Isabel, from 1315 until 1336, when he returned to the areas of the Order of Santiago.

At the time of the 1383-1385 crisis, was one of the first towns to declare party by the Master of Avis, since Fernando Afonso de Albuquerque, Master of Santiago, was available at your service, all the resources of his Order.

Under the reign of Manuel I of Portugal received Foral New (1512).

At the time of the Philippine Dynasty, Philip II of Spain donated the castle to the Duke of Aveiro (1594).

War of the Restoration to the present day [edit | edit source]
The defense of the village lost strategic importance after the Restoration War, in the second of the seventeenth century. The castle area returned to the possession of the Crown in 1759. Since then the old castle was phased out and entered into sharp ruin process. Its dependencies were used in the nineteenth century as the village cemetery.

In the twentieth century, was a National Monument by Decree published on 23 June 1910. More recently, were promoted consolidation and restoration interventions in charge of National Buildings and Monuments Directorate General (DGEMN).


The legend of the foundation
At the time of Muslim occupation, was lord of this region a rich Moor who had three children: two boys and a girl. Very old, feeling the approaching death, he called the children and communicated their desire to share their goods, asking them to do so harmoniously with each other. According to custom, the older boy took to himself the lands they wished; the second, carried out in the same manner with the remaining part. Still leaving vast expanse of property and wealth for the young, the elderly father asks if you had been pleased with the part that touched her, to which she replied: – Yes, my father, but I do not want properties. I think it is more necessary to have a castle for our defense. For me I just wish the ground that you can cover with the skin of an ox. Given the father’s admiration and brothers, had his skin had asked, so he could mark the part that had claimed the inheritance. She did then cut the skin into thin strips, and they defined the perimeter of the area than intended. When finished, followed by three days of heavy fog, after which dissipated: all saw then erected by magic, the Castle of Santiago de Cacém. (Supplement Alentejo Coast, December 1998, revised.)

The legend of the Byzantine princess
Another legend tells of a princess called Bataça Lascaris (Vataça Lascaris), fled the eastern Mediterranean, in command of a fierce squad by herself armed. The princess arrived in Sines and in front of his troops, marched to the south, coming to attack an Islamic town, governed by a master of Kassen name. Giving him battle, Princess defeated him and killed him, taking her castle on the day of Santiago (July 25). Therefore, put the village the name of Santiago de Kassen. (Julio Gil. The Most Beautiful Castles of Portugal, adapted.)

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