5 iconic monuments in Cascais and their Historic origins

estoril monuments

Cascais is a wonderful destination, be It for living or merely visiting. Known for its luxury hotels, resorts, beaches and casino, it’s the epitome of the Portuguese Riviera. But what you might not know about Cascais is its historical and cultural richness that dates from many centuries ago. Come travel through Cascais’ History with us and discover some of its most illustrious monuments.


Palácio dos Condes da Guarda, Cascais (18th century)

Nowadays, this iconic Palace of the town of Cascais serves two purposes: being the headquarters of the Municipality of Cascais while, on the ground floor, functioning as a museum that recounts the history of the town to its visitors.

However, the origins of Palácio dos Condes da Guarda date back to the 18th century, though its current appearance and structure were achieved by enlargement works during the 20th century.

If you visit this palace, look for its beautiful tile collection, which is the most distinctive feature of the building. These typical Portuguese tiles are part of the largest collection of such tiles ever applied to the exterior of one property.


Citadel of Cascais (15th – 17th centuries)

The Citadel of Cascais is composed of various historic fortifications built between the 15th and the 17th centuries. Their main purpose was to defend the Cascais coastline and River Tagus estuary of attacks on the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, mainly by English attackers, who were a constant threat in the 15th century.

Reinforcement and enlargement of the Citadel were later carried out around 1648 during the reign of King John IV of Portugal. Later on, during the 1755 earthquake, the structure of some fortifications was considerably damaged.


The Church of Our Lady of Assumption (16th century)

The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is very well known in Cascais for several reasons, from its vicinity to the Cascais Citadel to its rich and ancient History. The chronological History of the church dates to 1572, when it was referenced in the engraving of Cascais in the work “Civitates Orbis Terrarum”, the most complete collection of panoramic views, maps and textual commentary of cities published during the early modern period.

After being devastated by the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, its normal functioning was compromised. The restoration works of the church would only be completed in the 20th century.


Fort of Santo António da Barra (16th century)

For many people, this is the monument they automatically think of whenever Cascais is mentioned. Actually, many Portuguese cities and villages have constructions of this type near its shores, but what makes this one special?

The History of the Fort of Santo António da Barra dates back to the 16th century, during the reign of Philip I of Portugal (who reigned in Portugal from 1581 to 1598) – also Philip II of Spain, who originally commissioned the military engineer and Neapolitan architect, Giovanni Casale, to develop the construction plans.

In more recent years it became known as the Fort of Salazar, as it was used by António de Oliveira Salazar, former Portuguese Prime Minister during the Portuguese dictatorship (1933 – 1974) as his seasonal residence.

In 2018, the fort was restored by the Municipality of Cascais after years of being subjected to vandalism and is now open for public viewing.


Roman villa of Freiria (2nd century)

A Roman villa might not be the kind of monument you first think of when someone mentions Cascais, but many centuries ago it was – as a large part of the Portuguese territory – occupied by Romans.

The Roman villa of Freiria was built in the 2nd century and discovered in 1973 by Guilherme Cardoso and professor José d’Encarnação. After the first archaeological excavations, this discovery was, in fact, determined an authentic Roman Villa in August 21st, 1985.


Now that you know a lot more about the History of the beautiful town of Cascais, you will see it in a different perspective. It’s even easier to feel a connection to a place you’re already drawn to when you know what’s behind its monuments and scenery. Don’t you agree?

If you’d like to live in this beautiful Portuguese village don’t forget to look at our properties in Cascais.