..:: Portalegre ::..

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The Northern Alentejo Portalegre is an almost mythical region, a region where time is time and space is space. Reality lies here, waiting to be unveiled, in the endless plains and mountains, in the water that entertains and cures, in the great open spaces in the midst of nature or in those built by man both for ancient wars and for peace.

Authenticity lies here, in the nobility that our forebear's lent to the stones of the dolmens and menhirs, to the armorial bearing of the manor houses and to the unique flavours generated in secret in the ancient convents and wineries.

The truth also lies here, in the festival and the fair, in the music, the dancing, and in the local art, where tradition is maintained.

Foto turismo de Portalegre


Since prehistoric times this corner of the Portugal has been sought by mankind. Over half a hundred dolmens and menhirs - of which that Meada (Castelo de Vide), is the biggest of the Iberian Peninsula - bear witness to the exuberance of the megalithic culture.

The Romans were to surprise the natives in their fortifications. They dislodged them and built on the best lands of the valley and plains the birthplace of our civilisation. History began with them. The Roman town of Ammaia (Marvão) and the Roman villa of Torre de Palma (Monforte), with their beautiful mosaics retell a little of the splendours of the Empire.

Following the Barbarians, the Moors left their indelible imprint on the language, the agriculture, the military architecture (Elvas, Marvão) that the Christians from the North were able to assimilate and transform into anchors of Portuguese nationality.

The castles and town walls of the Northern Alentejo - which form the country's most important group of fortifications - as well as the headquarters of the powerful military religious orders (Crato, Avis) constitute the eternal documentation of those disturbed times of the fight for independence. They now form a countless nucleus of historic centres unmatched in Portugal: Marvão - World Heritage candidate - Castelo de Vide, Portalegre, Crato, Alter do Chão, Campo Maior, Elvas.

Touches of Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque erudition's were added ti their vernacular purity, in places, churches and convents, permitted by the centuries of the Discoveries.


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Portalegre lies on one of the sides of Serra de São Mamede, a mountainous range with a variety of fauna and flora part of which has now been designated a natural park. Portalegre itself is of roman origin though it is filled with fine Renaissance and Baroque mansions.

Castelo de Vide, on another green slope of Serra de São Mamede, is known for its curative waters since roman times and its castle, that gave the town its name.

From the castle in Marvão, spectacularly set on an escarpment facing Serra de São Mamede and Spain, splendid views can be enjoyed over the fertile plains. This small and tranquil medieval town is completely enclosed by walls, with whitewashed houses blending into the granite of the mountains.

Near Crato, whose castle remains in ruins, the monastery and church of Flor da Rosa, built in 1356, has now been turned into a "Pousada" (state inn).

Other towns to visit are Alter do Chão, with its five-towered castle and gothic portal, and Campo Maior, with its rather morbid Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), dated from 1766 and entirely covered with human bones.

Elvas, just a few kilometres from the Spanish border, offers a roman-Moorish castle and an imposing 16th-century aqueduct which surrounds the old town.

1. Portalegre

Foto turismo de Portalegre

The Cathedral, built in 1556, suffered profound alterations between 1737 and 1798 and exhibits beautiful tile panels and paintings. Three convents - São Francisco, Santa Clara and São Bernardo - are also worth seeing: the latter, built in 1518, contains the marble tomb of its founder, bishop Dom Jorge de Melo, and is one of the most elaborate in Portugal.

Museu Municipal displays from religious art to a wonderful collection of Portuguese ceramics, and Casa Museu José Régio (a well known writer who lived from 1901-1969) has various collections of religious art and folk art objects. You can drive from Portalegre to the peak of São Mamede, 1025 metres (3040 feet) high, along a winding road with fine views throughout the way.

2. Marvão

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Worth visiting are the 15th century Mother Church and the Municipal Museum, open in the former church of Santa Maria and displaying local ethnological and cultural traditions and archaeological findings.

Rua do Espírito Santo, with the former governor´s house exhibiting beautiful iron-wrought balconies from the 17th century, leads to the Castle, mostly built by King Dinis in 1299 and dominating the village.

Marvão lies in the area of the Natural Park of Serra de São Mamede, with a wide range of flora and fauna due to its geological diversity and varying climate.

Historic vestiges go back to prehistoric times, having been found various megaliths and an important roman site.

Near Marvão, visitors can play golf at Vale da Aramenha or swim and practice water sports at the dam in Barragem da Apartadura.


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3. Castelo de Vide

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Dating from Roman times and sprawling on one of these green slopes, it has preserved within its walls a remarkable patrimony: churches, fountains, mansions, Gothic doorways and the characteristic maze-like Judiaria (Jewish quarter), with its small white houses, cobbled alleys and a synagogue dating from the 13th century.

Also worth visiting are the Baroque Church of St. Mary, the 18th-century Town Hall and pillory, the carved stone fountain of "Fonte da Vila" or the 13th-century chapel of São Salvador do Mundo (Saviour of the World).

Within the walls of the Castle (now in ruins) which gave the town its name, the small chapel of Nossa Senhora da Alegria (Our Lady of Joy) exhibits splendid polychrome floral tiles from the 17th century.


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4. Crato

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Crato became an important town in 1232, when the Order of the Hospitallers received from king Sancho II, vast territories in the Alto Alentejo region.

By 1350, after the battle of Salado, the Order's headquarters were established there and Crato gained prestige and prosperity. However, in 1662, an invading Spanish army sacked and burned the town, which never recovered its past eminence.

An avenue of orange trees leads to the Mother Church, dating from the 13th century but much altered since then, and now exhibiting 18th-century tiles with fishing, hunting and travelling scenes.

5. Elvas

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The Castle of Roman and Moorish origin crowns the town´s steep streets and was rebuilt in 1226; then it was further remodelled over the years.

Another of the town's principal features is the great Aqueduct which was begun in 1498 and completed in 1622: it has a total of 843 arches in up to five tiers and some of its towers rise above 30 meters.

Worth visiting are also the Church of Nossa Senhora da Assunção, built in the 16th century by the same architect that designed the aqueduct, and the Church of Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos, with its marble columns and beautiful painted ceramic tiles from the 17th century.


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Foto turismo de Portalegre

Portalegre's region offers a kaleidoscope of activities among which you are sure to find the right one foe you.

A hike through the Serra de São Mamede along footpaths marked out and provided with information is a true privilege. Trips by off road or four wheel motorcycles provide full scope for the spirit of adventure that lives within us all. Horse rides are another possibility at many rural tourism centers and at the Elvas Riding Centre. There are many dams and reservoirs: Apartadura, Póvoa, and Meades, Caia, Maranhão and Montargil. At the last two there are facilities for many water sports, while near Montargil there is a small aerodrome that can provide trips by air.

With regard to game, we will merely say that it is seriously and properly organised in Sousel, and there are frequent drives for wild boar in the north of the region.
But if your efforts are of a more leisurely nature, try our spas and riverside beaches (Gavião, Fronteira), the delightful swimming pools of the Serra de São Mamede (Nisa).


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Covering 137 hectares of Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede, the Ammaia Club de Golf do Marvão is the first golf course in the North Alentejo region.

Designed by the Portuguese architect Jorge Santana da Silva, the course has undulating greens, a large number of bunkers and four lakes.

Course Opened: 1997
Holes: 18
Par: 72 (6.036m)
Facilities: Driving Range, Putting Green, Pitching Area, Trolleys, Buggies, Caddies, Club Hire, Pro Shop, Restaurant, Bar, Terrace and Swimming Pool.


The region offer several lodging options for visitors.

1. Casa D. Dinis

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Casa D. Dinis, benefits from one of the most privileged locations in Marvão, already one of the exceptional localised historical villages of Portugal.

Nine Bedrooms, with private bathroom, central heating, television and direct dial telephone. A living room, a panoramic terrace and a bar complete the hospitality of this comfortable small hotel.

1. Pousada - Santa Maria

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At almost 1000 metres of altitude, the village of Marvão has a panoramic 360º view over the Alentejo plain up to the Spanish border.

Surrounded by 13th century castle walls, Marvão Pousada was built from a group of small village houses mantaining their medieval characteristics.

Visitors can enjoy an outstanding view from some rooms and sitting rooms.

2. Pousada - Flor da Rosa

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A castle, a convent and a palace, built in different periods, were the origin of an ecclesiastical architectural work of outstanding harmony.

Flor da Rosa Pousada manages to combine the genuine characteristics of the convent, highlighting them with an architectural project, which although modern, entirely respects its origins.

3. Pousada - Santa Luzia

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Santa Luzia Pousada was the first of the Pousadas de Portugal, opened in 1942, a fine example of typical Alentejo architecture.

Today, it offers its guests not only all possible comfort but also the best Alentejo cuisine, especially the renowned "bacalhau dourado" (golden codfish), or its famous dish of pork trotters in a coriander marinade.

4. Pousada - São Miguel

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Situated on a hill overlooking the vast Alentejo plains, stands the white and paceful S. Miguel Pousada, with cinegetic interior designs, this Pousada is always waiting for the hunting, leisure and unique rich cuisine lovers.