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Historical Villages of Portugal
Manuela Azevedo
Turismo do Centro de Portugal

In the Center of Portugal there are 12 historic villages strategically built to defend a country and its people. Made of granite and schist, they preserve the history, traditions and heritage of friendly and hospitable people and spread over unbelievable landscapes. Taking this trip is a journey through the roots of a noble and proud nation, but like any expedition through history and true discovery it can be a difficult ride, the paths that lead to some of these villages are often winding with curves and counter-curves, which gives a certain charm to the arrival.

Let us now make our route through the 12 Historical Villages of Portugal.


A village that seen from the sky forms a 12-pointed star, a masterpiece of medieval military architecture and home to one of the most important strongholds in the country. The origin of the name is attributed to the Arabs who called it Al-Mêda (the Bureau), Talmeyda or Almeydan for its plane position.


Belmonte's history is usually associated with the history of Cabrais and Judaism. Imposing in its granite architecture, it is the birthplace of the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, who in 1500 discovered Brazil and welcomed Jews expelled from Castile in the 15th and 16th centuries, still conserving today an active community that frequents the synagogue.

Castelo Mendo

In the first mention in official documents they call it Castle Mendi. Village with predominantly medieval characteristics, consisting of two walled nuclei, the Citadel and Barbacã. Medieval walls protect a castle and simple houses connected by narrow streets. Here you will find the figures that represent the mayor who gave the village its name, and his wife carved in the stone of two houses.

Castelo Novo

In the heart of the Serra da Gardunha, surrounded by an aura of mysticism, in shades of green and gray embraced by an extraordinary natural landscape. This is a magical place, which conveys a feeling of inspiration and fascination, whether through the sound of the water that springs from the fountains to the immortalized granite in the village and sculpt the houses, sidewalks and squares.

Castelo Rodrigo

It is a monumental place that retains important references in the medieval plan. The small village that keeps the ruins of another fortress with marks of stories, struggles and betrayals, located on the top of a hill and that owes its name to Count Rodrigo Gonzalez de Girón. It preserves in ruins the huge palace at the top of the hill, which the population burned after the betrayal of Cristóvão de Moura.


Small village with a picturesque atmosphere, where the ruins elevate a city of Roman origin, the Templar works expose the presence of the Order of Christ and many more traces indicate the influence of various civilizations in this village of Beira Baixa.

Linhares da Beira

Village known for its architectural diversity, unique stories and traditions. Located in Serra da Estrela, the castle stands out on a plateau and on a giant boulder that functioned as a lookout point over the horizon.


At the top of cliffs, this small village was an important military square in the Middle Ages and a crossing point on the Caminho de Santiago and holds ancestral stories and legends. A scenario that reveals one of the living relics of the Portuguese heritage, is a trip to the deepest roots of Portuguese history. The streets, lined with buildings resistant to time, lead to the citadel surrounded by the walls whose ruins are easy to lose track of time.


Known as the most Portuguese village in Portugal. Owner of a unique charm, it is a tourist reference in the region that provides a peculiar experience to those who visit it, like most other villages, it is entirely built with granite stone. It is also a very old place, where the human presence is registered since the Paleolithic.


It is probably the best known village in the country, the village that seems to be hidden in the endless beauty of the Serra do Açor and organized in terraces, resembles the nativity scene where a white church stands out in the middle of a schist house with its doors and windows painted in blue.


Sortelha is one of the most beautiful and oldest villages in Portugal, it has kept its urban and architectural features unchanged until today, being considered one of the most well preserved. The view from the castle’s tower is breathtaking.


Built on the top of a plateau, from where you can see a vast area between Serra da Estrela and the Douro valley. King D. Dinis celebrated his wedding with the Holy Queen, D. Isabel de Aragão, in Trancoso in 1282. Inside, the streets preserve the medieval atmosphere, as well as some Jewish houses that settled here two centuries later.

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