Do you have a passion for medieval history, fortresses, and historical villages? Then, you should definitely spend a few days in Portugal!
There is a network of 12 historical villages inland, all very unique and with over 900 years of history to discover.
Most of these granite and slate villages, located in the border area, close to Spain, were fortified during the medieval ages to protect them against the invasions and to protect the Portuguese borders so, their castles, are located on the highest hills allowing you to have the most wonderful views over the region.
Nowadays, they are so peaceful with such authentic people and each one of them is so unique, you will want to visit them all.
You can start with Monsanto, the "most Portuguese village of Portugal", an award given in 1938, where vestiges of human occupation go all the way to the paleolithic and where it’s hard to understand if the houses are born from the rock or the rock arises out of the houses, so perfect is its integration into the landscape.
Continue to Idanha-a-Velha, full of Roman vestiges and a Visigoth cathedral, it was given to the Knights Templar in the 13th century, then, you can visit Castelo Novo with its well-maintained manor houses, and Sortelha, one of the oldest, most beautiful towns in Portugal. A visit to its streets and alleys, enclosed in a defensive ring and watched over by a lofty 13th-century castle from where you have breathtaking views, is mandatory. Not far from there sits Belmonte, the birthplace of the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral and a village that welcomed Jews expelled from Castile in the 15th and 16th centuries, which is still an important active community.
Following to the north, you will find Castelo Mendo and Almeida, the latter, surrounded by a beautiful star-shaped fortress built in the 17th century according to the most advanced defensive techniques of the time.
Just south of the Douro Valley, you will find Castelo Rodrigo that preserves the ruins of another fortress with the marks of a history of struggles and betrayals, and Marialva, the hometown of the legend of the Lady with Goat Paws.
Coming back south, you shouldn’t miss a visit to Trancoso, surrounded by medieval walls and with a Jewish quarter where Hebrew symbols can be seen engraved on the stones of the houses, Linhares da Beira located on a plateau in the high mountains and where you can do paragliding, and finish in Piódão, the only of the 12 which is not protected by walls because of its natural protected location on the hidden slope of the mountain of Açor. While wandering around Serra do Açor hills, you will not only be charmed by the majesty and purity of the landscape, but also be overcome with curiosity and impatience. Piódão stubbornly remains hidden so that it can then astound you with its architecture. Like a crib, the slate houses stand along the terraces of the slopes, hiding hundreds of years of history.
This information was provided to us by our partners - Tours for You.
If you are looking for a trip to Portugal, please send us an enquiry or call us on +44 20 7148 1778.