Not to be missed! The town of Castelo de Vide is a stunning place! It is located in the upper Alentejo and it has 3500 inhabitants and 4 parishes. It is located between Spain, Portalegre and Marvão. To the north we find the Tagus River. Close to the border with Spain is the beautiful river Sever, embraced by immense valleys that act as a natural barrier between sister countries. Almost the entire area belonging to Castelo de Vide is part of the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park.
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CASTELO DE VIDE
The entire region of Castelo de Vide is a (archaeological) testimony of the human presence since the Paleolithic (period that began 2.5 million years ago). The archaeological and architectural heritage of this region is vast, rich and important.
WHERE IS CASTELO DE VIDE?
It is located in Alto Alentejo. If you are departing from Lisbon, it takes just over two hours to reach the “Sintra of Alentejo”.
Castelo de Vide is famous for its romantic atmosphere which is justified by the beauty of its gardens and its abundant vegetation. Given its proximity to the São Mamede mountain range, you will almost always find a pleasant climate here. King Pedro V was the first to call it the “Sintra of Alentejo”.
CASTLE OF CASTELO DE VIDE
The view from the castle is fantastic! In the past, the ancient inhabitants of Castelo de Vide lived within the walls surrounding the castle town. Even today we can still find some houses there inhabited by locals. There are more doubts than certainties regarding their origins. From an archaeological point of view it is not possible to establish a link either with Roman occupation or with possible medieval origins.
There is some (unproven) data that points to Dom Afonso Henriques (1112-1185) as the author of the conquest of the village. But one can safely say that the village belonged to the kingdom of Portugal in the year 1232. It is also accepted that the castle was built by Dom Dinis in the 13th century and later completed by his son, Dom Afonso IV. If you visit the castle, be sure to enter its Megalithic Interpretation Center. Here you can read and learn about the history and characteristics of the Alentejo megaliths. The Military History and Architecture Museum is also located here where you can learn more about the kings of this castle (between the 12th and the 19th century) and see with your own eyes ancient war materials (cannonballs and stone tools). The castle’s current state of conservation is not perfect…
The medieval streets of Castelo de Vide bear witness to the passage and presence of the Jews in this town. Be sure to take a walk along the Rua da Judiaria, the Rua Nova, and the Rua das Espinosas.
In Judiaria, look closely at the layout of the houses and their interiors. You will find two doors on the first floor. One of them connects to the commercial space and the other to the upper floor of the house. Don’t forget to visit the old Jewish school and the Synagogue, the place where the local Jewish community used to gather.
In the first house on Arcario Street lived the midwife or “abafadeira” (a name given because of her power to give or steal life). Look up to the highest window. There you will find the granite supports of a clothesline where the birthing cloths were laid out. If you choose to go down the north side, your walk will end at the nice square of the Fonte da vila that coincides with the boundary of this Jewish area.
FOUNTAIN OF THE VILLAGE
The fountain of Castelo de Vide village is one of its most important monuments. It was built in the 16th century (during the reign of Dom João III) in the area of the Jewish quarter (there are traces of Jewish presence in this town since the 13th century). On one side of the fountain we can identify the coat of arms of Portugal and on the opposite side the town’s coat of arms. It is a building of public interest since 1953. The fountain is yet another element that proves the qualities of the water in this region of Portugal. The comments from those who visit this historical landmark of the region are many and very positive. That said, be sure to see it.
The center of the village of Castelo de Vide should be visited on foot and without haste. Its narrow streets, the architecture and the beauty of its houses should be admired with the calm that the Alentejo inspires. Sit at a terrace and watch people go by, listen to Castelo de Vide and talk to the locals. No rush.
NOSSA SENHORA DA PENHA CHURCH
Built in the 16th century, it is a simple chapel with a nave, chancel and sacristy. The interior walls are lined with azulejo tiles. It is located in the São Paulo mountain range. The church is interesting and the view is stunning!
30 kilometers of visibility from this location (on a clear, cloudless day). From here you can see Castelo de Vide, Marvão and Portalegre. It has a beautiful staircase nearby and a park perfect for picnic lovers. The journey to reach this place is also to be admired with calm and pleasure.
SANTA MARIA DEVESA CHURCH
It is located in the square of Dom Pedro V. The construction of the church (Igreja Matrix de Castelo de Vide) took place between the years 1789 and 1873 and replaced a small chapel dating from 1311. It is one of the largest churches in Alentejo and is still very popular with the local population. It consists of: nave, two sacristies, nave, chancel and two towers. Inside you will find a large number of images collected from nearby churches and chapels. The general state of conservation of the church is good. A visit not to be missed.
The Ogival gates are constructions belonging to the middle ages (Secs. V to XV). Here you can find the most famous Ogival doors of the Alentejo and probably of Portugal. There are more than 60 of them and they were built in the XIV and XV centuries. They are distributed in many streets of the town but are more abundant in the historic center (especially in the Judiaria area). Some of these ogives have a decoration on their ogives and on their doorposts. The decorations are very varied: spheres, toros (circular frame at the base of the column), stylizations of the sun and stars and also a fish that you can find in a doorway in the Rua Nova. Very interesting!
LAVENDER FARM (quinta das lavandas)
Quinta das lavandas is a different point of interest than usual. It is located in the Natural Park of Serra de São Mamede. The farm is surrounded by lavender fields where the dominant color is violet (although we can also see the colors red, pink and white). It is a veritable open-air museum! If you go there, be sure to notice the sweet, floral smells that flood the farm. The farm’s daily life revolves around lavender. Here you can learn how to make scent sachets or heating pads. You can also participate in seminars and meetings about the different ways of using lavender (in areas as diverse as cosmetics and food). The farm is proud to be self-sustainable.
AMMAIA ROMAN CITY
The Roman ruins of Ammaia are located in the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park (in the North of Alentejo, more specifically in São Salvador de Aramenha). Its ruins were classified as a National Monument in 1949. However, they were abandoned until 1994, when the city of Ammaia was founded. In the last 25 years, many efforts have been made to study, understand and preserve these important ruins of the past. The visit is relatively quick as many of the buildings are fenced off. We also recommend a visit to the museum where you can see some objects discovered during the excavations, such as plates, coins, various stones and some glass objects. Ammaia was promoted to Civitas by the year 45 AD. It obtained the title of Mvnicipvm before the end of the first century after christ. The historical records of Lucius Vero (166 AD) are the first to make reference to its status (title).
It is the largest and most impressive menhir on the Iberian Peninsula! It was discovered in 1965, is 4 meters high and weighs 15 (!) tons. According to historical research, it dates back to the Copper Age period (3300 to 1200 B.C.). The menhir that can be observed today was repaired in order to return the original image of this ancient historical vestige (in phallic form). In 1970 it was classified as a national monument.
The Castelo de Vide area has many megalithic monuments. But almost all of them are hard to find and in fenced-off places. The Anta da Melriça is a beautiful megalithic monument (prehistoric) in a magnificent state of preservation. To see it, you have to walk a little on narrow paths and crop fields. The monument is in a place open to the public.
SÃO MAMEDE NATURE PARK
The Serra de São Mamede offers a different view of the Alentejo that we all idealize. In the Serra de São Mamede you will not find dry plains but green elevations! The top of the mountain is at 1025 meters of altitude, a breathtaking viewpoint. There we find a microclimate with levels of rainfall and humidity that are favorable to the development of flora. If you like hiking, you should know that there are five routes that can be done on foot. An excellent option to get to know and observe luxuriant vegetation and birds of prey. With a little bit of luck you will see deer and wild boars!
VIRTUAL TOUR TO CASTELO DE VIDE
WHEN TO VISIT CASTELO DE VIDE?
Any time of year is compatible with a visit to Castelo de Vide. However, temperatures in peak summer (July and August) or peak winter (December, January and February) can be incompatible with long walks. The milder months (April, May, June, September and October) are the safest months. In the months indicated, you will be able to fully enjoy all the charms of the place.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR CASTELO DE VIDE?
Castelo de Vide has a lot to see and offer! But if you have some time left, then be sure to visit these two villages that are a short distance from the town. If you only have time for one of the following suggestions, then choose Marvão, an unforgettable place!
Only 10 kilometers separate Castelo de Vide from one of the most impressive places in Europe: Marvão! A small village on top of an imposing hill, protected by defensive walls. Besides the beauty of the houses and gardens of the place, the view that Marvão offers you will stay forever in your memory!
From Castelo de Vide to Crato is a distance of 32 kilometers that can be covered in 30 minutes by car. In this old agricultural village, you will find 3 imposing and famous churches that deserve a careful visit. In recent years, the town of Crato has become very famous for its summer music festival.
HOTELS IN CASTELO DE VIDE
4 star hotel. 55 reviews and an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5. Guest reviews mention guest friendliness, cleanliness and charm of the facilities as strengths. A great breakfast is also often mentioned in the reviews.
TAPADA DA RABELA TURISMO E RESERVA NATURAL PRIVADA
4 star hotel. 211 reviews on booking and an overall rating of 9.3 (out of 10). I read many comments and could not find a single negative comment. The strong points mentioned by guests are: the calmness of the place, the swimming pool, the sounds of nature (the chirping of birds and the braying of donkeys), the deactivated CP station and the many places to rest.
CONVENTO SENHORA DA VITÓRIA
3 star hotel. More than 350 reviews on the Booking platform. An overall rating of 8.4 out of 10. Good location, low prices and other qualities such as a magnificent view and beautifully decorated room.
WHAT TO EAT IN CASTELO DE VIDE?
The high Alentejo is a friend to all those who like to eat well! And in Castelo de Vide you can eat very well! The main specialties of this region are: Sarapatel soup, açorda alentejana, migas with spare ribs, saffron rice, lamb stew, Coentrada foots, chibo de Cachafrito and liver Castelo de Vide style.
RESTAURANTS IN CASTELO DE VIDE
More than 280 reviews on google. Overall rating 4.3 / 5. The comments mention the low prices, the well prepared food (with special emphasis on local dishes) and also the friendliness of the staff. The starters and desserts are also mentioned a lot.
PIROLITO CV – Wine & Tapas
185 reviews and a rating of 4.6/5. Expect an average of 25 euros per person. It’s not cheap but, according to online comments, the quality of the food is very good. A cozy and well decorated space and, as the name indicates, based on snacks (with generous portions). Sometimes there is live music.
HISTORY OF CASTELO DE VIDE
The archaeological remains found in the region point to the presence of humans in the area since very remote times. The various megalithic structures take us back to the Neolithic period (10th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C.) and the Chalcolithic period (3300 B.C. to 1300 B.C.). Other historical traces attest to the presence of humans during the Roman occupation and later during the middle ages. But the village itself is much less ancient. It was in 1180 that the charter was attributed by Pedro Anes. The birth of the county took place in 1276, materializing its separation from another pearl of the region, Marvão. But it is in 1310 that the town of Marvão gains importance. It is on this date that Dom Dinis begins the reconstruction of the existing defensive fortress (the castle and its defensive walls). It was in the 15th century that a large community of Jews arrived in Castelo de Vide. At the time, one of the largest Jewish presences in Portugal. Even today, the Jewish quarter and the Synagogue are central places in a visit to the town. The walls and the bulwarks (defensive structures) that still stand today were erected during the War of Restoration (1640-1668). Later, in 1710, the fort of São Roque was built, a structure that reinforced the village’s defense. In the beginning of the 19th century, the Castelo de Vide area was the stage of war between Portugal, England, France and Spain. During this period, the village was filled with soldiers who found shelter there.
PORTUGUESE PERSONALITIES BORN IN CASTELO DE VIDE
SALGUEIRO MAIA – CARNATION REVOLUTION CAPTAIN
He was born in 1944 and entered the military academy in 1963. A figure of enormous importance in the 25th of April 1974. On the morning of the revolution, Salgueiro Maia said to his comrades: “There are several types of State: the socialist states, the corporative states and the state that this has reached! He died too soon, in 1991, when he was only 48 years old.