Algarve Monuments and Heritage, archaeologists reveal secrets of Belinho Castle
Algarve's Tourist Guide - Aqueologia, Architecture, Heritage and History of the Algarve 'Archaeologists unravel mysteries of the Castle Belinho
A 900 years Arab Fortress is being excavated in Morgado Reguengo, in Portimão, and is a complete surprise for the researchers
Excavations in Belinho Castle, situated in the Reguengo Morgado, inside the Portimão council, not ceasing to amaze.
What has long been thought to be only a hishn or small Arab fort was actually a fortified villa, probably the last Moorish king of Silves.
This is the conviction of the archaeologists who, since last year, have been excavating this site, the couple Rosa and Mario Varela Gomes.
Dating from the twelfth or thirteenth century, when Christians were gathering dangerously borders the Algarve Muslim Belinho Castle, mentioned in texts of the time and later, but never before subject to a campaign of archaeological excavations, it was regarded as only one of the structures defense that protected Silves.
The construction of a square plan and is still marked by remnants of the thick mud walls of the military, is situated atop a hill which overlooks the Serra de Monchique, the estuary of Arad and to the coast.
It could be seen also Silves and a watchman who was on the outskirts, as well as access from the coast to the mountains of Monchique, and even the castle Alferce, which defended. It was therefore an important strategic position.
But the estate that archaeologists have been finding shows that more than a military garrison, who lived in this castle would be someone important.
"The stock is of excellent quality. We have found pieces glazed, enameled in turquoise, some decorated in cuerda seca, or the ceramic sumptuários something, "explains Rosa Varela Gomes. Two of the pieces, discovered a few days ago, is a burner and spatula essences for cosmetics.
"It was not exactly the kind of pieces that one would expect to find a simple fortification, inhabited by soldiers. This would be before a stately home '. The time when the castle was built was "very troubled", marked by raids and the increasing proximity of the troops of the Christian kings of Portugal. "For yes, not by the master of this house, probably owned a huge farm that would stretch around here, decided to fortify his house," said Professor Rossi.
Another fact that seems to support the theory of archaeologists is that the Castle Belinho began to be destroyed immediately after its conquest by the Christians. As the soldiers of the military at the behest of King Afonso III wanted to destroy a symbol of power, erasing it from the earth.
"There is archaeological evidence that it was destroyed immediately after the conquest. Unlike other sites, where the structures were then occupied by Christians, and in some cases, donated the new masters, even here it was destroyed in a methodical and purposeful ', ensures Mário Varela Gomes.
A fact which supports the theory that this would be a stately home, a sort of fortified cottage belonging to an Islamic high dignitary, probably the last governor or king of Silves.
Already last year the Castle Belinho had revealed other details. This is the case of the moat that surrounds the structure, about three feet wide and just over a meter deep. Rosa Varela Gomes points out that this is the only gap so far discovered in a castle in the whole Islamic Iberia.
At the time, the gap would be filled with water, but archaeologists are convinced that he would not have defensive functions (its shallow so seems to indicate), but rather symbolic and even, perhaps, to cool the environment.
The Arabs were expert users of water as part of enhancement of the landscape and create more comfort in homes, particularly for cool. The gap would thus be a kind of giant air conditioning, around the house. "The gap was more emblematic than functional 'ensures Mário Varela Gomes.
But the big surprise to archaeologists, was hidden even lower in the layer of soil and spoil corresponding to the Islamic period, about 900 years. There under, the investigations found evidence and older, about 6500 years - traces of dwellings, graves, silos and other structures of an ancient people of the Neolithic.
The excavations have revealed levels of unpublished data and are a real box of surprises. Such that Mário Varela Gomes, from the discoveries made in this pre-historic village at the Castle Belinho until you're thinking about new theories to explain human evolution in the Algarve.
Nearby (45mn drive): Faro, Albufeira, Quinta do Lago, Vale do Garrão, Vilamoura, Loulé, Querença
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