|Private tours in Lisbon & surroundings||
In this tour you can visit ancient towns of Portugal where you step back in time and feel the atmosphere of medieval
way of living in well preserved ancient Portuguese villages. So close to Lisbon and yet so distant in time and History...
Drive across Vasco da Gama 12 km long bridge for a view of Lisbon and its estuary.
We stop at Estremoz. The region has been inhabited since pre-historic times. King Dinis rebuilt the castle as a Royal
Palace, turning the village into an important political centre. Estremoz is internationally known for its fine to medium-
grained marble that occurs in several colours. There is so much marble around Estremoz that it is used everywhere;
streets, squares and fountains and even the doorsteps, pavements and the cobble stones are made out of marble. The
town is strategically placed on a hilltop with clear views from its walls and castle which still dominate the town along
with its churches. The town is divided in two parts: the upper medieval quarter in white marble and the lower part
built around Rossio with its monumental doorways bearing coat-of-arms, attractive centre set with peaceful plazas,
orange tree–lined lanes and the market. On the hill within the star-shaped ramparts of the upper town stands the castle
and the former palace of Dom Dinis.
Meanwhile, below, on the Rossio, the vast main square of the lower town, the market selling local produce: wine,
cheeses, pottery and rose pink marble.
We proceed to Marvao, fortified old town near the Spanish frontier on a steep sided hill in the Serra de Sao Mamede.
The splendid site and 360-degree panorama alone would be reason enough to visit the medieval mountaintop village,
but the town itself (a candidate for the World Heritage list), is one of Portugal's most spectacular fortified villages.
Its great attractions are its unspoiled medieval atmosphere and its castle, with a commanding view from above the
town. This strategically situated little town was strongly fortified by King Dinis in the 13th century and is still
completely surrounded by its medieval walls. The steep and narrow streets are paved with stone slabs, spanned by
flying buttresses and lined with flower decked houses, many of them with fine 17th century wrought iron window
grille. We will have to get off outside the walls and to walk up through the maze of alleyways with white washed
houses and manueline doorways.
Rua do Espírito Santo, with the former governor´s house exhibiting beautiful iron-wrought balconies from the 17th century and with
immaculately whitewashed houses, leads to the castle, to splendid views over the countryside and Spain, as Marvão stands at more than
862 meters high.
It contains a huge water cistern and nearby is a 13th century church with a small but interesting museum of archaeological finds and local
We have the feeling the we went back into the past in this town and when we leave it we fell we’ve been in a fairy tale.
At the top of the state inn, built among tightly clustered houses, also with magnificent views, like nearby mountains of São Mamede,
a natural park with Neolithic and Roman remains, wildlife, and Europe's largest colony of bats.
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. Castelo de Vide is also near the Spanish frontier. One of Portugal's most picturesque places, it has managed to preserve
its medieval townscape virtually intact, with its picturesque maze of narrow streets and trim whitewashed houses with their characteristic
chimneys, and many charming little squares and nooks and corners, window boxes and rows of flowerpots. 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 Saint 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.
Up on the walls of the castle which gave the town its name to the town, we have superb views over the city and surrounding landscape.
The gastronomy is rich, with specialties such as sarapatel (haggis), ensopado de cabrito (kid stew with bread and gravy), migas com
entrecosto (pork ribs with a kind of bread-soup) and splendid liqueurs.
|...The region around Estremoz has been inhabited since pre-historic times. There are also vestiges of Roman,|
Visigoth and Muslim occupation. During the Reconquista, Estremoz was captured in the 12th century by the
army of knight Geraldo Sem Pavor (Gerald the fearless), who had also conquered neighbouring Évora. However,
Estremoz was soon retaken by the Moors and only in the mid-13th century reconquered by Portuguese King
Sancho II. Kings and Queens have lived and died in Estremoz. King Afonso III granted a letter of feudal rights
(foral) to Estremoz in 1258, promoting the colonisation of the area. In the early 14th century, King Dinis I rebuilt
the castle as a Royal Palace, turning the village into an important political centre. King Pedro I, the Portuguese
“Romeo”, died in the Convent of São Francisco to which he bequeathed his tortured heart. Queen Isabel,
considered a saint by the people, who came here with King Dinis, also ended up staying. Nowadays, a pousada
named after her is to be found in King Joao V's former armoury. We notice many religious and military architectural
styles, the latter justified by the strategic importance Estremoz always enjoyed in the wars against invaders, due
to its strategic position towards the capital city of Lisbon. it was the military headquarters during the wars of
Independence and later became the centre of the struggle in the war to restore the Portuguese throne. The region
produces excellent marble and has rich and varied traditions to handicraft. Estremoz is internationally known
for its fine to medium-grained marble that occurs in several colours: white, cream, pink, grey or black and streaks
with any combination of these colours. Especially the pink marble (Rosa Aurora and Estremoz Pink) is in high
demand. There is so much marble around Estremoz that it is even converted into whitewash for painting the houses.
Portugal is the second largest exporter of marble in the world, surpassed only by Italy (Carrara marble). About
85 % of this marble (over 370,000 tons) is produced around Estremoz....
|...Marvão is a small hilltop village in the Serra de Mamede in Alto Alentejo. It's completely walled with a great castle|
on top of the mountain - very like a child's dream. It's well worth an hour or so just wandering along the top of the
village and feasting on the views spectacularly set on an escarpment facing Serra de São Mamede and Spain, 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. 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. 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) with its 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 that the Christians from the North were able to assimilate and transform into anchors of Portuguese
nationality. The castle and town walls constitute the eternal documentation of those disturbed times of the fight for
independence. 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...
|...Castelo de Vide - The Romans first settled here in 44 BC being an important point in the road from Merida in|
Spain across to the west coast. The Vandals conquered and destroyed the town in the 4th Century. It was later
rebuilt by the Moors in the 7th Century until 1148 when it was taken by forces led by Gonçalo Mousinho who
then became its governor. The town's first Royal Charter was issued in 1180 and unlike other places it was
required to organize its own defences and in return the young men of the town were not by law automatically
obliged to be soldiers. It is unknown when Vide as it was originally known was first fortified. On the orders of
Dom Dinis the castle was rebuilt in 1310 and its name was prefixed by the word Castelo. When Afonso IV
ascended to the throne he gave the town to his younger brother. This same brother later laid claim to the throne
and an imminent battle for the castle was only avoided by the clever intervention of the ambassadors sent by
the future to be Queen of Portugal, Dona Isabel de Aragon. Its protection and close border location was to attract
many Jews from Spain during 1492 that escaped from the severe persecution handed out by the Catholic Church.
In 1704 the Spanish attempted unsuccessfully to capture the castle but later fell to the attack of the Duke of
Berwick who threatened to put all in the town to the sword. The defending Portuguese then placed all their
gunpowder for protection in a well but a year later an explosion of this powder destroyed a great part of its
fortifications. When they proceeded to rebuilt and extend the walls they included the houses that had grown up
around the castle in the outer walls...