Many of Portugal’s little towns are relics of a past that has passed away. People in the region still brew port wine the old-fashioned manner, cook using centuries-old Alentejan skills, and travel by donkey. Due to the limited number of tourists that visit these pieces of European history, visitors may enjoy a genuine, albeit rather slow-paced, experience. This article provides an overview of the most picturesque communities in Portugal.
Fort Elvas, located on the border between Portugal and Spain, is designed like a star and serves as another significant crossing point between the two countries. Square fortifications enable attackers to concentrate their efforts on the corners, where there are fewer defenders to thwart their approach. A star-shaped structure, on the other hand, has no weak points that may be attacked since arrows can be fired from all directions. Tour the southern end of the wall to find secret passageways and history brought to life by the fortification’s ecstatic staff and volunteers. The Praca de Republica, in the heart of the city, still houses a gorgeous church, and the city continues to rely on historic aqueducts for its fresh water supply. Elvas is a treasure of a town, but it is not as popular with visitors as other tiny towns in Portugal, so you will have to travel at the slow pace of the people if you want to see everything.
With a visit to Lamego, you can go back in time! This north-central Portuguese town, surrounded by the hills of port wine region, is awash in Baroque splendor. Climbing the centuries-old Baroque staircase that leads up to the majestic Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is the most popular attraction for visitors here. There is nothing quite like seeing a truly maintained granite sanctuary and a beautifully adorned church. It takes 686 steps to get to the top of the amazing sanctuary, which has 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside. The path winds through deep woodland until emerging out into the open at the foot of the sanctuary. During your tour, you will have the opportunity to burn off some of the tempting port wine produced in the area!
Tavira, located on the southern coast of the Algarve, approximately two miles from the ocean, has been a settlement since the Bronze Age, according to historical records. Tavira, which is divided in half by the Rio Gilo, is a walker’s paradise. Climbing up to a high castle, crossing a lovely Roman bridge, and passing a slew of Gothic and Renaissance churches are all possible on cobblestone lanes. There is a new riverfront market, and the city is just a two-mile drive from the beautiful sand beaches of Ilha de Tavira, where fishermen bring in their daily catches.
Marvao is a town located south of Almeida on a rocky outcropping. This village of fewer than 5,000 people is not for those who are easily intimidated. The old, narrow lanes of the town are cut directly into a rock that protrudes out from the hillside, giving the town its unique appearance. The residences of Marvao are brightly painted and lavishly decorated with blooming flowers. There is nothing like it in the world. The view is stunning and panoramic, and you can see all of eastern Portugal. The town is protected by a castle, but there hasn’t been much history of siege or conflict, thus the ancient structures have survived. A small number of bedrooms entice guests searching for a place to stay on the side of the road less frequented.
Ancient megalithic structures, reminiscent of Stonehenge, exist on the fringes of Monsaraz, one of southern Portugal’s oldest communities, like a ghostly version of the famous landmark. The castle of Monsaraz, like other settlements on the Spanish-Portuguese border, was constructed high on a hilltop to provide protection. The Moors, Christians, and Knights of the Templar have all governed the castle at various times, each of whom has left a cultural stamp on the building. The town’s most popular attractions are presently Alentejan cuisine and tourism. Authentic Portuguese houses dot the landscape as the historic alleys zigzag past them in this tranquil port city.
Portuguese authorities have designated this little village with less than 2,000 residents as the country’s eastern boundary. Make no mistake about it: Almeida is a little town that protects a very significant crossroads on the way into Portugal from Spain. Although a fortunate round destroyed the gunpowder storage during the Peninsular War in 1810, the Almeida Castle has survived to this day. The explosion claimed the lives of 500 defenders and destroyed half of the city. The protection of the crossroads is so essential to the locals that the municipality has preserved the Museu Histórico Militar de Almeida, a fascinating museum housed inside an underground labyrinth.
This little hamlet in the northeastern region of Portugal has a fascinating historical narrative to tell. The fortress, which bears the wounds of years of siege, proudly displays Portugal’s coat of arms, which is shown upside down. According to the commands of D. Joao, the previous King of Portugal, the town shall continue in this manner in perpetuity. The instructions were issued in 1385, after D. Joo’s victory against the lords of Castelo Rodrigo at the Battle of Aljubarrota in Portugal. When D. Fernando of Portugal died, Castelo Rodrigo supported the king of Castile, who had just married D. Beatriz, the sole daughter of King D. Fernando of Portugal, and supported her claim to the throne following her father’s death. Currently, this tranquil town has a beautifully renovated town center that sprawls out from the medieval castle grounds.
Due to the town’s lost-in-time atmosphere and a wide range of events, Obidos attracts thousands of visitors each year. If you are seeking for a real Portuguese small town escape, you may not be able to locate one amid the throngs of people here in Porto. However, the crenelated splendor of the castle wall that surrounds it may prove to be too much to resist. Upon inside the stronghold, you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth of small cobblestone alleys that link huge white residences and flower gardens to restaurants, stores, and pubs on either side of the walls. The hilltop castle has been transformed into a beautiful, premium hotel for people wanting a spectacular view as well as comfort and elegance.