Lousã Castle, also referred to as Castelo de Arouce, is located about two kilometers from the parish, town and municipality of Lousã, in the district of Coimbra, Portugal.
In a dominant position on top of a narrow buttress of the Lousã mountain range, on the right bank of the river Arouce, the monument is nowadays a tourist attraction.
It is not known when a fortification was started for the protection of the village of Arouce, whose first documentary reference dates back to 943, in a contract between Zuleima Abaiud, a Mozarabic, and the abbot Mestúlio of the Monastery of Lorvão, where the toponym is mentioned Arauz.
The medieval castle
It is assumed that the construction (or rebuilding) of Castle of Arouce dates back to 1080, when the settlement was peacefully occupied by Count Sesnando Davides, governor of the conimbricense district, whose mandate was granted by Fernando Magno, a sovereign who had conquered Coimbra from the Moors since 1064, bringing the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula to the region of the Sierras da Estrela and Lousã.
Conquered by the Moors during the 1124 offensive, it was reoccupied and repaired by D. Teresa de Leão. With the independence of Portugal, it became part of the Mondego line until 1147, when the conquest of Santarém and Lisbon by the forces of D. Afonso Henriques (1112-1185), who extended it to the Tagus. During this period, here came the summer to his wife, the queen D. Mafalda of Saboia, with his court. In the Charter of Foral that this sovereign granted Miranda do Corvo (1136), alludes to the Castle of Arouce, which would receive its own charter in 1151. Later, in 1160, a new document alludes to Lousã, unlike Arouce, which shows that the former Roman settlement had once again been occupied with the pacification of the region, prospering in such a way that it received a charter in 1207, under the reign of D. Afonso II (1211-1223).
At some point in the fourteenth century, the castle keep was erected. Under the reign of D. Manuel I (1495-1521) the Lousã received Foral Novo (1513), time from which the medieval castle came to be known as Castle of Lousã.
Lousã and its dominions were lordship of the Dukes of Aveiro until 1759, when they happened to the Portuguese Crown. From then on, the action of the elements, of the centuries and of the vandals in search of the legendary treasures of Arouce, caused significant damage to the monument, even threatening to demolish the Tower of Menagem.
From the 20th century to our days
It is classified as a National Monument by Decree published on June 23, 1910.
The intervention of the public power began in 1925, and later in 1939, when it was carried out work of conservation and repair by the General Directorate of National Buildings and Monuments. A more extensive campaign took place between 1942 and 1945, and other occasional campaigns in the years 1950, 1956, 1964, 1971 and 1985. These works brought us the monument in good condition preserved in a forest landscape, which recalls the beginnings of nationality.
Castelo de Lousã, Portugal: panoramic view.
Of small dimensions, it presents / displays plant in irregular hexagonal format, in the Romanesque and Gothic styles.
The walls, in shale masonry, are reinforced by three basins (one to the southwest, and two, smaller to the west.) Two other, semi-cylindrical, flank the entrance gate, to the southeast. square of arms with about 130 m² The top of the walls is crossed by an adarve, defended by bevelled merlons.
Attached to the wall, on the north side, stands the Tower of Menagem, with a quadrangular plant, ameada. In it a door in an oval arch is torn, at the level of the adarve, with windows on the opposite side, and two more doors in the upper deck, in each one of the facades. It is surmounted by bevelled merlons.
The Legend of Arouce Castle
According to an ancient legend, which caused much damage to the monument, at the time of Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, the castle was erected by Arunce, an emir or defeated Islamic chief and expelled from Conímbriga, for the protection of his daughter Peralta and his treasures as he moved to North Africa in search of reinforcements against Christian forces that increasingly tightened the siege of Muslim lands.