Villages Of Portugal: Discover One Of The Best Kept Secrets From Portugal♦ The Historical Villages of Portugal are ancient urban centres with a foundation predating the Portuguese nation, located in the Beiras region and of great historical importance. They are usually erected in highlands, since they constituted centres of defence of the populations that settled there, even before the Roman denomination. They stand out for the military architecture since the majority is surrounded by walls and develops next to a castle. Secrets From Portugal will try to capture the essence of these villages, stay tuned.
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One of Portugal’s best-kept secrets is the centuries-old picturesque villages that are characteristic of the different regions of the country. From North to South there are hundreds of beautiful examples of classic and iconic villages that stand out as an excellent opportunity for a cultural trip and, within this illustrious group, we have to highlight seven places that will captivate you with their inert magic.
Reguengos De Monsaraz, Évora
In 1167, the village of Reguengos de Monsaraz was conquered from the Moors by Geraldo Sem Oavor, butt this conquest was only for a brief period of time. But after the definitive reconquest, in 1232m D. Sancho II donated the region to the Order of the Temple, for defence and repopulation. In 1276, D. Afonso III granted Monsaraz the status of “seat of the council”, which the village maintained until 1851. Within the village patrimony, we need to stand out the historic Fortifications, the Mother Church, built in the 18th century to replace the primitive church that was destroyed during the plague, the Castle of Monsaraz, the House of the Inquisition (one of the only ones in the country) and Pelourinho. The surrounding landscape allows us to dive into the past thanks to more than 150 megalithic monuments that store histories with more than 5.000 years.
Immortalized by the writer Miguel Torga as an “embryonic egg”, the Village of Piodão is a small but iconic haven in the middle of the Serra do Açor. Attracted by the freshness of the springs, the Lusitanian shepherds formed, in medieval times, a small town that they gave the name of Piodão Houses. Even though it was destroyed and currently there are no lo9nger any traces of it, there was at this stunning village a Monastery of Cistern which makes the origins of this place go back to the 16th century. In the landscape splashed with shale and blue, we can see the Mother Church, built in the 18th century, which cyndrilical tower topped by cones. As we wander in the alleys we find crosses on the door of the houses. These crosses are marks of the beliefs of the people of the village, who, with branches of laured tried to remove bad luck and bad weather.
Adeia de Dornes, Ferreira do Zêzere
Dornes is located on a small peninsula surrounded by the river Zezere and the lake of Castelo de Bode. It was a Commendation of the Order of Christ, and King D. Manuel I gave it the charter of autonomy in 1513. This village was also the seat of the country until 1836. Of its patrimony, we stand out the church of Nossa Senhora do Prado that, according to tradition was founded by the Queen Saint Isabel in 1285, and the tower of Dornes, the mysterious and first pentagonal Templar tower in Portugal, an ex-libris of the region, built by the order of the Templars in the early thirteenth century. Also, worth noting is the wooden boat Abrangel, a boat with 3 boards, typical of this area of the river of Zezere, which has in Dornes the only shipyard and master that still builds them.
Sistelo, Arcos de Valdevez
The army of Afonso VII of León and Castille stopped in Sistelo on their way to challenge D. Afonso Henriques,
in what would be one of the most decisive moments in the history of Portugal (12th-Century). In the 13th-Century, Sistelo was recognized by the Kingdom of Portugal as a village. Known as “The Small Portuguese Tibet”, this village has in its terraces a unique identity trademark. Molded for hundreds of years to produce cereals and graze cattle, the terraces lead the water through a specific irrigated system, which is a clever and eco-sustainable manner of obtaining agricultural and livestock growth. The village highlights a core of granaries, as well as the mysterious Casa, do Castelo de Sistelo, one of the most curious monuments of the North of Portugal that was built in mid-19th-century.
Village of Lindoso, Ponte da Barca
According to the legend, the name Lindoso was originated by D. Dinis, who found the castle “so cheerful and exquisite”. The majestic castle was the scene of arduous battles that guaranteed national independence. Currently, the castle displays a permanent and interactive exhibition about the history of the region. Next, to Lindoso Castle there is a threshing and exciting conglomerate of 50 granaries from the 17th and 18th centuries. This place represents a unique cluster in the country and it’s a sight of rare beauty. Entirely made of stone, each specimen rests
on several short pillars, set on the rock and surmounted by grills or tables. In addition, the Village of Lindoso has the most powerful hydroelectric power station in the country that was completed in 1921.
Azenhas do Mar, Sintra
Azenhas do Mar is one of the most beautiful sea villages that we can find in Portugal. This masterpiece of popular architecture is characterized by a picturesque setting, being framed in a small bay where an ocean pool was recently built to enhance the tourist potential of the village. In 1927 a primary school was built by the architect Raul Martins, and this building conquered national relevance when it became an example for other school buildings in the time of Estado Novo. Being one of the most emblematic properties of the Village, we can find in its facade a strong representation of the Portuguese tradition. In addition, the village is part of the Demarcated Region of Colares, a wine region since 1908 which is defined by the vineyards on sand floor.
Aldeia Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Guarda
Founded by the Turdulos five centuries before the birth of Christ, Castelo Rodrigo was later occupied by the Romans and by the Moors. Later, Castelo Rodrigo received a charter from D. Sancho I in 1209, in the context of the
Christian conquest, and definitively integrated the Portuguese territory in 1297. The Church of Nossa Senhora
do Rocamador was founded in the century XIII to support the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela. It was on
the surroundings of this village that on the 7th of July 1644 the Portuguese troops commanded by Pedro Jacques
de Magalhães defeated the Spanish army of the Duke of Ossuna on the historic battle of Castelo de Rodrigo, an
historic win for the Portuguese Realm. It was the scene of the French invasions, between 1801 and 1810, whose
destruction marked the region deeply. In a land full of historical achievements, it is impossible to miss out on
the old walls, the 16th century Pelourinho, the medieval cistern and the vestiges of the presence of the New-Christian community.cistern and the vestiges of the presence of the New-Christian community.
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