Mines and Tunnels


Elyn Aviva

Legends abound of mysterious tunnels honeycombing Sintra Mountain.

“Water dripped from the ceiling and plopped onto the glistening floor. The cramped, crudely excavated limestone cave twisted and turned. Nervously, I wondered what I would encounter around the next curve, beyond reach of the dim electric light that had guided my way up till then. I switched on my smartphone flashlight, just in case.” —Elyn

Legends abound of mysterious tunnels honeycombing Sintra Mountain. Some say there is a tunnel that links the Moorish Castle on the hilltop to the National Palace in the historic center of Sintra, several kilometers away. Others assert that the Knights Templar, who were gifted much of Sintra by Dom Afonso Henriques in the 12th century, built tunnels under their possessions to provide escape routes if needed because of a siege. Still others claim that a tunnel linked the Capuchos Convent, on the Mountain of the Moon, to the Capuchos Convent 77 km (48 mi) away in Arrábida, on the Mountain of the Sun. Since this tunnel would have required excavating beneath the Tejo/Tagus estuary, it would indeed have been a truly exceptional feat of engineering.

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