The Medieval and Jewish Route in Portugal

4 days

HappyPortugal through TravelTailors invites you to discover the legacies of the Middle Ages, Religious Orders and the Jewish people in Portugal, guided tours by experts with advanced training. From the mountains of the Beiras to the plains of the Alentejo, you will live ancient legends.

Tour Routing

  • DAY 1: PORTO OR LISBOA - BELMONTE

    Trip to Belmonte.

    Located in the foothills of the Serra da Estrela and crowned by the granite mass of the old castle, Belmonte was the cradle of the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, who in 1500 discovered Brazil. The word Belmonte has to do with mounds and is thought to be beautiful. The community of Belmonte houses an important fact of the Jewish history, related to the resistance of the Jews to religious intolerance in the Iberian Peninsula.

    In the sixteenth century, when the Moors were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula and the Spanish and Portuguese lands were reconquered by Catholic kings and D. Manuel, a law was introduced obliging Portuguese Jews to convert or to leave the country. Many of them eventually left Portugal, afraid of reprisals from the inquisition. Others converted to Christianity in official terms, maintaining their cult and cultural traditions within the family. A third group of Jews, however, took a more extreme measure.

    Several decided to isolate themselves from the outside world, cutting off contact with the rest of the country and following their traditions to the letter. These people were called marranos, In an allusion to the ritual prohibition of eating pork. For centuries Belmonte's Marranos kept their Jewish traditions almost intact, becoming an exceptional case of Jewish community.

    It was only in the 70 years that the community established contact with the Jews of Israel and officialized Judaism as their religion. In 2005 the Jewish Museum of Belmonte was inaugurated in the city, the first of its kind in Portugal, which shows the traditions and the daily life of this community. Some monuments and places of reference are: the Castle of Belmonte, the Tower of Centum Cellas, The Jewish Museum of Belmonte, the Museum of the Discoveries, the Museum of Olive Oil and the Inn.

    From 20h30: Suggestion to dine in an author's restaurant in Belmonte.

    Integrated in a beautiful historical building, you will find one of the most refined restaurants in the region, with a magnificent view over Cova da Beira. The menu offers a variety of suggestions, and it is possible to taste dishes of regional inspiration (such as the famous kid's stew on Caria bread) as well as other more innovative creations.

    Accommodation in the hotel of the selected category.

  • DAY 2: BELMONTE - CASTELO DE VIDE

    Trip to Sortelha.

    The charm of this village lies in its medieval atmosphere, where the houses are all built of granite stone and generally on a single floor, are based on the rock and accompany the topography of the land. Crowned by a castle set in a formidable rocky cluster at 760 m of altitude, Sortelha keeps intact its medieval feature in the architecture of its granite country houses. It was part of the important defensive line of frontier castles and its name derives from the configuration of the land in the form of a ring (ring in Castilian).

    The entrance is made by a Gothic door on which there is a balcony (Varanda de Pilatos), with openings (kills dogs) through which all kind of projectiles were launched against the attackers. Before the entrance, a beautiful pillory deserves attention, topped by the armillary sphere, symbol of D. Manuel I and the building where they worked the Paços do Concelho, both of the time of that king. Around Sortelha, the landscape has the rough beauty of the great granite stones and the chestnut woods that accompany them.

    In the town of Casteleiro, on the road to Belmonte, there was the medicinal Radium Waters, Which were considered among the most radioactive in the world. You can also make a healthy journey on foot following the ancient Roman-medieval route, where pilgrims passed to Santiago de Compostela.

    Trip to Idanha-a-Velha and Monsanto.

    The succession of occupations of different peoples bequeathed to Idanha-a-Velha a valuable historical patrimony. Anyone who visits the modest village of today and observes its peaceful rhythm will find it difficult to imagine that it is in the ancient and flourishing Civitas Igaeditanorum Roman route on the peninsular road Emerita (Merida), the Braccara (Braga); In Egitânia, seat of bishopric of the Visigothic era (centuries VI-VII); at Idania Muslim (8th-12th centuries) when it reached a large size and was almost as rich as Lisbon. Then it was the time of the struggles between Christians and Muslims in the first century of Portuguese nationality, when D. Afonso Henriques donated it to the Order of the Templars for their repopulation.

    Monsanto, chosen in 1938 as Most Portuguese village of Portugal, Deserves the title: perched on a granite slope, the houses appear tight among huge cliffs, with tiny backyards and vegetable gardens separated by stone walls and slopes cut into the living rock and merging with it. The castle began by being a Lusitanian castro, later restored by the Romans, and suffered a long history of fights and fences. Everything in the village has been carefully preserved. The difficult climb up to the castle is largely offset by one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in the area.

    From 12h30: Lunch suggestion at a regional food restaurant in Monsanto.

    The first geo-restaurant in Europe is in the historic village of Monsanto. This restaurant combines menus related to the region to activities to promote the local geological heritage. The restaurant was built using traditional granite cliffs, which serve as walls and even a roof.

    Trip to Castelo de Vide.

    Castelo de Vide is a beautiful Alentejo village, located on a hill in the Serra de São Mamede, in a place breathed by beauty. The flowery white village of Vila that goes up and down the hill, surmounted by the Castle, crosses with years of history and occupation, since in the area there are several megalithic legacies, such as Menir da Meada. There are several monuments and places of interest in the village, including the top of its Castle and the beautiful panoramas, Jewry, One of the most important and well preserved examples of the Jewish presence in Portugal, dating back to the 13th century. The Jewry still preserves the Synagogue, the windows and ogival doors of the dwellings and the doors of the workshop or trade, some decorated with professional symbols. Here you will also find one of the greatest collections of civil architecture in the Gothic period. In the majestic D. Pedro V Square, there is the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Hospital, the Matriz church, the City Hall and several stately and emblazoned houses that breathe history.

    Trip to Marvão.

    Close to the Spanish border, at the highest point of the beautiful Serra de São Mamede, lies the charming village of Marvão, surrounded by 13th and 17th century walls. When visiting Marvão, you are sure to visit the history itself, which runs in these narrow streets of Alentejo architecture, Gothic legends, Manueline and medieval testimonies from other times, marked in typical local granite. The Castle and the imposing 13th century walls are unforgettable monuments of the village, but Marvão has more to offer, like the 15th century Mother Church, the old Church of Santa Maria, now an interesting Municipal Museum, housing ethnological and archaeological collections of the region. From the top of Marvão you have amazing views over the entire surrounding area, such as the Torre de Menagem or Pousada de Santa Maria.

    From 20h30: Suggestion of dinner in traditional Alentejo restaurant in Marvão.

    Being the Alentejo region famous for the richness and variety of its excellent gastronomy, we suggest you to enjoy a delicious menu with flavors faithful to bread and olive oil, faithful to the herbs and aromatic plants, and to the taste of coriander and poejo in Alhada de Cação or Pork to Alentejana: varied palates that must be well accompanied with the good and traditional Alentejo wines, with the sausages and cheeses of the region. And if the appetite remains, be sure to sample the convent candies, such as the Sky Bacon or Sericaia with Elvas Plums.

    Accommodation in the hotel of the selected category.

  • DAY 3: MARVÃO - TOMAR

    Trip to Crato.

    The municipality of Crato is marked by Roman occupation; By the Order of Hospitallers (later Sovereign and Military Order of Malta) and by D. Álvaro Gonçalves Pereira, 1º Prior of Crato, who built for the Order's headquarters the imposing Monastery of Santa Maria de Flor da Rosa and the Palace of the Grand Prior Architecture attributed to Miguel Arruda) of which only the imposing balcony and a big window remain); fur glamorous Of the Baroque period with its palaces distributed throughout the municipality and by the royal marriages of D. Manuel I with D. Leonor and D. João III and D. Catarina, celebrated in the Palace Patios (Palacio Teixeira Guerra), in the town of Crato, with pomp and circumstance.

    Suggested visit to the fortified convent of Flor da Rosa.

    Founded in the 14th century by D. Álvaro Gonçalves Pereira (whose tomb is inside the church), the former fortified convent of Flor da Rosa combines three buildings of different typologies, constituting the primitive, gothic nucleus, a strong house or paço cadastelado, together To a fortress church, to which fifteenth-century monastic installations were sweetened. It has walls and towers constructed in masonry of stone arranged to the line or with silharia and lime mortar. In 1990 began the construction works of an inn attached to the convent, using some of its dependencies.

    Trip to Constância via Almourol Castle.

    The picturesque castle of Almourol is situated on a small island that was already inhabited at the time of the Roman occupation of the peninsula; From the 8th century, was occupied by the Muslims, who will have conquered it to the Visigoths. Classified as National Monument, it was Official Residence of the Portuguese Republic during the Estado Novo. The castle is built to accompany the uneven terrain, with two interior levels, the first one accessed by the main entrance and the second, where the Tower is located, through an interior staircase.

    From 12h30: Lunch suggestion at a regional food restaurant in Constância.

    Located in the center of Constância, this restaurant suggested by TravelTailors is housed in a popular house from the 18th century. On the first floor there is a regional wine cellar, the second one is for the dining room, where a varied menu of great quality is served.

    Trip to Tomar.

    Tomar is known for its fabulous monuments, of which the Convent of Christ and countless historical buildings and archaeological relics stand out. Classified as a National Monument since 1921, the Tomar Synagogue is one of the few coeval Jewish temples of the presence of this people in Portugal in times prior to the expulsion to which they were subjected by D. Manuel I. The Synagogue, built between 1430 and 1460, is a quadrangular plant, with 9,50 meters deep by 8,25 wide. Its height corresponds to that of the dwellings that flank it, ground floor and first floor. The ceiling is composed of nine slightly ogival domes, resting in the center on four columns with capitals decorated with floral motifs. In each of the angles of the ceiling, a curious hole, denounces the presence in the masonry of clay amphoras, with the function of regulating the sonority of the songs during the religious office. Although the facade of the temple has a renaissance feature, its construction predates the 16th century. It is known that Prince Henry, as governor of the Order of Christ in the fifteenth century, was the great promoter of the Jewish settlement in Tomar, giving them a street to form their neighborhood and have their synagogue there. At the time, it was called New Street, a name given to the old Jewry.

    The Judiaria de Tomar corresponds today to Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto. Although the Hebrew presence in Tomar has been documented since the beginning of the fourteenth century, it is with its fixation in Tomar that the Infant involves the Jews in the company of the Portuguese Discoveries.

    Visit to the Convent of Christ.

    The Convent of Christ is a wonderful and formidable monument with a prestige and incalculable value. It represents a mythical space from the foundation of the Templar Castle by Gualdim Pais, remaining in the imaginary like the House of the Knights Templar. In his Paços lived and thought the strategy of the Discoveries the Infante D. Henrique. It was here, too, that King Manuel I printed for the future his imperial conception of the world before D John III imposed his vision of recollection and closure.

    It was this place that Philip II of Spain chose to symbolically mark the seizure of power in Portugal, and it was still here that some of the tragedies of the 18th and 19th centuries passed, such as the French Invasions and the Liberal Revolution. However, such a striking history did not prevent long periods of erasure, especially until the middle of the 20th century, followed by campaigns of rehabilitation, restoration and conservation of the surrounding architectural complex.

    The architecture reveals several features from several different eras. Among the styles that stand out most are the romantic, Gothic, Manueline and Baroque. Here we will be led on a guided tour through the nooks and crannies of the memory of the Templar bastion where legends of the Holy Grail and hidden treasures merge with the historical truth and the beauty of art carved in stone. The symbols will be spoken. The secrets, perhaps revealed. Two Templars await us and will fight for us; Then show how he fights, then we take the sword and we will be instructed by the masters.

    From 20h30: Suggestion to dine at a traditional restaurant in Tomar.

    Anyone visiting this restaurant is sure to have creative food. The entrances, all of them original, excel by good taste. The feijoada of snails deserves to be tried, but not to leave the petingas in the oven with jealous also give them a little bit. And the dishes? Well, those are cooked in the wood-burning ovens. Now enjoy this menu: cod roasted in the oven with pork, eels of fricassé, rabbit of pumpkin and other that is not spoken so that it is not still with more water in the mouth. Oh, the bread is made by itself. All this in an original and charismatic space, where the walls are both in wood and brick, to create an environment that matches the rustic and the creative. There is lamprey in the menu, in due season.

    Accommodation in the hotel of the selected category.

  • DAY 4: TAKING DESTINATION CITY

    Travel to the destination city.