Europe Magazine October 2018

PORTUGAL

SOUTHERN EUROPE

Photo copyright: Aldeia Monsanto

PORTUGAL’S HISTORIC VILLAGES A PROUD 900-YEAR HISTORY Perched atop mountains, the villages can be spotted from afar by the tall towers of their mediaeval castles, strategically aligned along the border. There are twelve in total, and we suggest a route that starts in the only place where there is no castle -Piódão. This village with schist houses, sits on a slope hidden in the wilds of Serra do Açor. Linhres da Beira, where the castle is on a plateau, of- fers beautiful views. The historic centre of Trancoso has a Jewish quarter where Hebrew symbols are en- graved in the stones of the houses. Marialva was an important military post in the Middle Ages, and Castelo Rodrigo preserves the ruins of an- other fortress. Seen from the air, the walls of Almeida form a twelve-pointed star. In Castelo Mendo, discover the figures carved into the stone of two houses. Belmonte, the birthplace of the navigator Pedro Álva- res Cabral, who discovered Brazil in 1500, welcomed Jews expelled from Castile in the 15th-16th centuries, and there is still an active community that attends the

synagogue. Sortelha sits on a rocky escarpment that forms a ring surrounding the village. In Castelo Novo, the Town Hall, jail and the Baroque style D. Joao V Fountain are notable. In Idanha-a-Vel- ha you can see the ruins of the ancient Egitânia and the Visigoth cathedral. Monsanto is the last village on this tour and here most visitors wonder if the house is carved the rock or the rock arises out of the house, so perfect is its integration into the landscape.

Historical Villages in Portugal Schist villages Art and Culture in Portugal

EUROPE MAGAZINE / OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE

28

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