Portalegre is a must-see place. This Region is absolutely gorgeous: it has a genuine beauty, a real bucolic life, great landscapes, proud people and the Portuguese identity.
I chose Portalegre as my short break destination and I loved it. And now I will share with you some of my best moments.
Portalegre: Felling the Portuguese soul
Portalegre... Why? That was the question that people asked me most often when I told them that the Region of Portalegre was the chosen destination for my break. It was just a short break but away from crowed life, away from stress, away from cosmopolitan problems.
In fact, Portalegre doesn’t usually appear in the popular travel guides. The suggestion came from a friend who is an expert in Portugal tours. When he told me his advice, I didn’t hesitate and I quickly became excited to discover this unknown destination.
And I still do not understand why the beautiful Region of Portalegre remains forgotten by the tourist crowds that annually travel to Portugal. Portalegre is a truly unique place. Here we can touch the true Portuguese identity. Here, we can enjoy the bucolic life. Here, we can understand the Portuguese pride, even being located next the border of Spain.
But perhaps this lack of masses contributes to make it so genuinely wonderful, remaining as precious as ever. And so, it remains perfect.
Portalegre: visiting an historic symbol
Portalegre is History. Portalegre is one of the greatest symbols of strength and Portuguese achievements. Located near the border of Spain, Portalegre was an important place for national defense during the Middle Age. At that time, this was one of the most celebrated Regions of Portugal.
During your visit to Portalegre, do not forget to stroll through its zigzagging and elegantly organized streets and to observe the buildings with baroque inspiration, its prodigious museums, the magnificent examples of religious architecture and the imperial relics of its medieval walls.
The historical center is one of the most special attraction in Portalegre. Walk... just peacefully walk. Enjoy the architecture and the details, the wrought iron balconies that adorn the Palácio Amarelo (Yellow Palace) and the traditional blue and white tiles that decorate the granite staircase of the Achaioli Palace. The famous Convent of São Bernardo also deserves a visit, as well as the traditional tapestries in the Tapestry Museum Guy Fino.
Furthermore.... The Cathedral! Dating back to the Renaissance period, this religious monument is located at the highest point of the city and is a real must-see.
And after this visit with charming details, continue this journey and explore the magnificent Region of Portalegre. I loved the São Mamede Mountain Natural Park. It is considered one of the greatest examples of the biodiversity of this country. Being a territory shared with Spain, it has a peak that reaches 3500 meters. With a large diversity of fauna and flora, here we can find chestnut trees, oaks, vineyards, olive groves, as well as foxes, wild boars, the largest colony of bats in Europe, among others species.
Right next to the city of Portalegre, visit the walled town of Marvão. Perched on a granite crag of the São Mamede Mountain, it was recently considered one of the "1000 Places to see Before you Die", by the New York Times. It stands out for its imposing Castle and its Neolithic and Roman remains, like the Roman road, the ruins, the Roman Bridge and the Village of Ammaia.
Then, travel to the bucolic village of Castelo de Vide, considered one of the most romantic places of Alentejo. Being famous for its Jewry, here you can also visit the oldest synagogue of the country, gothic-inspired buildings and historic streets. Be sure that you also find (well, is not exactly difficult to find it) the Menhir of Meda, an incredible megalithic monument with 7 meters and one of the best preserved relics of the Iberian Peninsula.
A quick tour through the picturesque village of Nisa should also be included in your travel script. Nisa is the tranquillity and the natural beauty of Alentejo. With time, just relax in its desirable thermal waters and also have fun with other attractions.
Then, you have to travel to south. It is important because there you will find the fantastic city of Elvas. Visit its imposing castle that dates from the 13th century and visit some of its Museums. Here you should taste the good cheese from Alentejo and you also must discover its meticulous handicraft. And of course, the impressive Amoreira Aqueduct, one of the most famous symbols of Alentejo (a system that continues to supply water to Elvas).
And finally, do not forget to visit the Chapel of Bones of Campo Maior, with a quite bizarre concept. Dating back from the 18th century, it can intrigue even the strangest traveler. After a castle explosion in 1732, the chapel was covered with the bones of the 1500 victims who died in this tragedy.
And to smooth your spirit after this unusually extravagant place, explore the Dam of Caia and enjoy its tranquility. This artificial lake is the largest reservoir in the Region of Portalegre. And if you have time, here you can walk or chose some radical activities.
And briefly… It was a very good trip. A short break that I will remember forever. And I will keep talking about this marvelous Region. Just because it is absolutely charming.