|To speak of Belmonte is to speak of the last community of Crypto-Jews and of the Portuguese Discoveries, because it was the birthplace of the great navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral. The designation of Belli monte testifies to the defensive character of the old settlement and the importance of its castle which later, and in much more peaceful contexts, was transformed into the former Solar of Cabrais.
Our visit begins in the castle that, as the Sortelha and Vila de Touro, formed until the end of the thirteenth century, the defensive line of the Alto Côa. We climb the Torre de Menagem and enjoy the beautiful view over the valley of Cova da Beira and Serra da Estrela.
We continue in the Church of St. James and Pantheon of Cabrais, classified as a national monument. In the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade we find, in the opinion of the Nobel José Saramago, one of the most hearts touching of the Romanesque sculpture: the Pieta. We also highlight the tombstone that symbolically houses the ashes of Pedro Álvares Cabral. Already in the yard, in front of the beautiful Manueline window of the Paço, we see a replica of the cross, in Brazilian wood that Pedro Álvares Cabral would have left in the Land of Vera Cruz.
Time to go to the neighborhood of the Jewish community and visit the Bet Eliahu synagogue. Along the way, through the narrow streets, and between granite houses, we detect a set of cruciform symbols that have witnessed the presence of this community for centuries and which, in the greatest secrecy and strategy of survival, has managed to preserve the traditions, rituals and customs , such as lighting candles at Friday’s dinner and fasting once a year.
We continue to visit the Museum dedicated to the Discoveries – Interpretive Center to the Discovery of the New World (former Solar Cabrais) and the Museum of Olive Oil. Before leaving for Caria we paid a small tribute to the navigator who, represented by Álvaro de Brée (1961), appears in a serene pose holding the astrolabe, a sword and a cross. The small town of Caria has a very interesting historical estate and of which we highlight: the House of the Tower; the Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the “Casa da Roda”, where there is an exhibition on Casas da Roda and the lots, particularly Quevedo Pessanha from the 18th century. Returning to Belmonte, it is time to relax in the Pousada Convento da Nossa Senhora da Esperança, but beforehand we propose a unique gastronomic experience in the Pousada’s restaurant: “Chipped cod of the cabrais places”; “Wild boar to Frei Humberto coated with crumbs of cornbread and rosemary and the” Milk cream of the convent “.
Accommodation in Belmonte
Our day starts at Colmeal da Torre, where we find an old Roman villa, 1st century, Centum Cellas. This building, which is in some controversy as to its functionality, is a testimony to the importance of the region in the Roman period, since the road linking Bracara Augusta (Braga) to Emérita Augusta (Merida) existed.
Between the head of Saint Cornelius and the Serra da Opa was born one of the beautiful villages of Portugal. Without great monuments, but with a patrimonial set typically Beirão, Sortelha (Sortícula or Sórtija) crystallized in the time, phenomenon that attributed it an incalculable value. The visit begins with the Castle and, where we can see other settlements that, in the Middle Ages, had an important defensive role of the raian zone. We walk through the village, and following Rua Direita, we observe a patrimonial complex of rare beauty composed of 16th-century houses, Solars, churches and chapels. Of note is the old house of the Chamber and Chain; the house of the Governor of the Municipality of Sortelha, the Parish or Passal residence, the Mother Church with its bell tower and the “little ladies of the gentlewoman”. To see still, in one of the doors of the wall, the register of the old measures (span, cubit and braça) that were used in days of the local market.
Before leaving for Trancoso we take a break in the Bar Oven terrace and discover the local handicrafts (pieces of brown wood and articles in bracejo) in the shops of the village.
Now in Trancoso, cold land of Beira Alta (885 meters above sea level), we will visit a city (recent), not only of celebrations and weddings, but also of King D. Dinis and Isabel de Aragão, of violent confrontations between Christians and Muslims.
Land of the Portuguese “Nostradamus”, the prophet poet Bandarra, Trancoso has a patrimonial wealth that was recognized with its integration in the program of “historical villages of Portugal”. We value in our visit the Paços do Concelho, the Manueline Pillory, the Misericórdia Church and the Church of S. Pedro.
Within its walls, and in the eastern part of the city, we find the largest number of cruciform marks of Beira Alta and buildings, such as the House of the Black Cat, which testify to the importance of the Jewish community between the XIX / XV centuries.
Return to Belmonte and accommodation at the Pousada.
|In the foothills of Serra da Gardunha we find one of the “most touching memories”, according to José Saramago, the town of Castelo Novo. Structured around her castle, grew up adapting to the morphological irregularities of the terrain. Here we hear the constant murmuring of water (from Alardo) that the people say “falls on little stones, in salt-colored little stones”.
In the narrow streets, the typically beirãs, granite-like and uncrowned houses are the village’s identity. The pillory, the House of the Chamber / Town Hall and Chain of the time of D. Manuel I and the Baroque fountain, of the reign of D. João are some of the monuments to visit. After the castle, we stop at Lagariça or Lagareta rudimentary stone wine press of Roman origin.If we are hungry, we will accept the advice of the “lizards” (the name of which are known the locals), and we propose as a table the roasted lamb in the wood oven or braised with potato crumbs and for dessert mashed potatoes made from corn.
On the way back to the top of the Tower of Lucanus, we see the rooster (a replica of the silver rooster) that reminds us of Monsanto that this village, years ago, won the “most Portuguese village” award. Others will exist, equally beautiful and unique, but Monsanto at the top of the granite hill enchants! Monte Sanctus, donated in the 12th century to the Master of the Templar Order, Gualdim Pais, was, in its origin, a Lusitanian fortress famous for its resistance to the Romans who besieged them for 7 years. Today, to the rhythm of the adufes, the day is celebrated (May 3), in which the population threw a calf to the Romans as if to say that they were well and healthy and ready for another 7 years … Well, it will not be a calf, but a pitcher of roses.After a courageous climb among 16th century houses, chapels and plots, we are in the castle, a remarkable medieval example. At the top we enjoy a unique landscape, to the north the Serra da Estrela and Spain a few kms away.
We do not leave this beautiful village without first complimenting the best lady-dresser, Mrs. Amélia Fonseca who, with her joviality and sympathy, sings and enchants, in the art of playing this instrument of Arab origin. Tell us the story of the marafona, rag doll, with magic attributes, which should not be underestimated.In the farewell we remember Fernando Namora who lived, worked and wrote his last books in this beautiful village of Monsanto.
Now in Idanha-a-Velha (Egitania or Antanya), we will know a village that is proof of the presence, in our country, of various civilizations. From the Roman municipality to the land of the Templars, Idanha, later the old one, was once an important city and from where several roads departed. Today, it resists abandonment, it´s an open museum, and free to all interested.
The visit starts at Largo do pelourinho, the former house of the Chamber and Chain, and continues at the Templars Castle and Church of Santa Maria. This Church, a Cathedral, has been adapted and rebuilt over the centuries. Former Islamic mosque is one of the most beautiful examples of the Islamic presence in northern Portugal.
We finish our itinerary with a lot of memories and experiences, but before returning to Lisbon, we suggest you try the local biscuits: the borrachões and the spouts of olive oil that will surely make the return journey tastier.
Arrival and accommodation in Lisbon
Our tour can be tailored to specific interests.
Personal expenses, other activities, and tickets to museums and palaces are not included in the tour price.
- Private transportation
- Private guide
- Pick-up at your Lisbon hotel is provided
- Free WiFi
- Bottled water
- Itinerary according to the program description