At Beira Interior, in the Center of Portugal, the 12 Historical Villages are all connected through a network that shares core moments of the Portuguese history — most of them are villages and cities near the border with Spain —, therefore preserving the secular culture, gastronomy, and traditions.
If you’re new to this territory and you’re not sure which one to visit or where to start, we may not be the best help, as it’s hard to choose one in place of another. They all have their unique beauty, roots, and traditions, even though they all played an important role in the course of Portuguese History. A dozen places, all with amazing historical backgrounds, and all so different, make the choice harder.
Nevertheless, we can imagine visiting one of them that, even though it doesn’t have a castle, is one of the most picturesque: Piódão! The shale houses that contrast with the blue doors and the sharp and imperfectly laid out paving stones are some of the characteristics that gave it the nickname of “Nativity Scene Village”, especially and it gets dark and all of the lights light up the streets. Surrounded by agricultural terraces, the village of Piódão is one of the most visited, along with Linhares da Beira, which stands high on the hill with its lofty castle, as you can visit both on the same day. Piódão, which was once a medieval town, established in 1169, nowadays has restaurants and accommodation facilities that welcome you into a truly historical center, to be visited on foot.
In fact, when getting to any of the Historical Villages, the advice is to search for a parking space, preferably near a tourism office to gather all the information, and, from that on, visit the villages on foot, with a map, and explore all the curiosities of the 12 Historical Villages of Portugal.
Another village that also deserves the spotlight is Monsanto. Why? In 1938, it was elected the most Portuguese Village in the country. A title that still lives on, in a place which it is still represented by an elegant weather vane in the form of a rooster on the top of the bell tower. Another thing to highlight in Monsanto is the r roughness of the houses that were built side by side with monoliths. In fact, some of these giant stones are part of some house’s architecture. All of this makes it one of the most visited Historic Villages. Idanha-a-Velha and Castelo Novo are two other Historical Villages that are located relatively nearby Monsanto.
If you could group some of the visits among the Historical Villages, you could visit Belmonte and Sortelha. The last one was, among the 12, one of the most successful architectonical restorations and by visiting it, it almost feels that time has stopped. After visiting Sortelha, you can go ahead to Belmonte, in which the highlight was its close connection to Brazil — as it is the hometown of the well-known explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral —, and it’s also a place where it is still nowadays very connected to the Jewish community.
Last but not least… We suggest visiting Marialva, Trancoso, Castelo Rodrigo, Castelo Mendo, and Almeida. Once again, five examples of very different Historical Villages that had, for a long time, strategic positions to stop attacks in the Portuguese territory. Almeida is itself a fortress with unique characteristics worldwide, with a hexagonal form and a historical center inside the military construction. Castelo Rodrigo has a secular palace on top of the hill; Trancoso has its castle well preserved; and Marialva and Castelo Mendo have ruins that everyone can visit, where each stone has a story to tell.
You have to be prepared to fully discover the Historical Villages of Portugal… Are you ready to go on a journey to the past? Enjoy!
The 12 Historical Villages of Portugal in alphabetical order:
Linhares da Beira
Sortelha — Trancoso
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