Central Portugal can be considered the most diverse region of the country. Breathtaking coastal areas and large lezírias full of history and traditions are interesting. This is why a visit to these most beautiful places is a must on any trip.
Guarda: Portugal’s highest city, one of the highest in Europe.
With its high temperatures and its unique and untouchable beauty, it is a place to visit. This district is part of the province of Beira Alta and is bordered to the north by Bragança, to the south by Castelo Branco. It is located to the west by Viseu and Coimbra and to the east by Spain.
The whole territory is very mountainous, formed by elevations of different altitudes. The city has important buildings, some of which are of a distant date, such as the cathedral where you can observe the Romanesque, Gothic and Manueline styles. It is one of the most sumptuous Portuguese cathedrals. The church of Misericórdia, very spacious, with an imposing pediment, a well carved stone interior and exquisite sculptures, is also worth a visit.
This beautiful city is known as the city of the 5 “F’s”. The first one is called Fort: the castle tower, the walls and the geographical position. The second city is Farta because of the richness of the Mondego valley. The third is Fria because of its proximity to the Serra da Estrela. The fourth tourist city is Fiel (the mayor Alvaro Gil Cabral refused to hand over the keys of the city to the King of Castile during the crisis of 1383-85). The fifth city is called Formosa for its natural beauty. The good geographical location of the municipality and the good accessibility make Guarda a place to stay and pass through. This region is crossed by the Douro River (opt for a memorable journey between cultural and wine heritage), Mondego, Zêzere and Alva.
Santarém: the lively capital of Ribatejo
Belonging to the Lisbon region and the Tagus Valley, this district is formed by vast green plains. They extend to the horizon and are often flooded by the Tagus, hence the name “Lezíria”. As the capital of the district, it is home to a number of interesting churches and the popular Jardim das Portas do Sol. It is surrounded by the city’s medieval walls, which offer magnificent views of the plains and the Tagus River.
Today Santarém is a city that only has a glimpse of all the architectural heritage it has ever possessed. It is called the “capital of the Gothic”. Closely linked to its roots and tradition, it is also an important bullfighting center, with a modern arena.
In the peaceful village of Golegã, the famous horse fair is held every year in November. It attracts crowds of horse lovers. And in the fall, it takes place with many stands selling food products from different parts of the country. It is the biggest gastronomy festival in Portugal.
Leiria, Portuguese episcopal city since 1545
Leiria is situated in an attractive and geographically perfect landscape. Approximately 146 km from Lisbon and 72 km from Coimbra, the city of Leiria is located near an important crossroads of roads and highways. These roads facilitate distribution and communication with the rest of the country. This soft and beautiful land is bathed by the rivers Lis and Lena. Its castle is a very remarkable monument. Protected by great walls, it keeps inside its past as a military fortress and royal palace.
In Leiria, the gastronomy is varied and the traditions recognized. And in its region, there are unique treasures such as the thermal springs of Monte Real, beaches like Pedrógão, Lagoa da Ervideira and the municipal forest of Marrazes. From there, we are also close to the historical cities of Coimbra, Tomar, Torres Novas, Santarém, and some important urban centers. This region lives mainly from trade, agriculture and industry. Especially the production of ceramics, plastics, molds and cements is found here. Civil construction is also important, as is tourism. As a coastal town, it also has a history in the art of fishing.
Castelo Branco: a beautiful old and lively Portuguese city
Dominated by the remains of a Templar castle, Castelo is the most important city of the Beira Baixas. It is well located in the interior of Portugal, about 50 km from the border with Spain. One of its greatest attractions is the extraordinary Episcopal Garden, next to the old Episcopal Palace. Created in the 18th century by Bishop João de Mendonça, it is organized according to a formal scheme. Its originality lies in its profusion of statues.
Castelo Branco is famous for its embroidered silk bedspreads, of which there are also some in the museum. These are linen bedspreads embroidered with natural silk thread, known as “Castelo Branco embroidery”, of oriental inspiration. They are known for their bright colors and the elements they represent. This city is an authentic open-air museum, filled with magnificent traces of Portugal’s past. It is the birthplace of some of the oldest traditions that characterize Portuguese cities.
Viseu: the Portuguese city of Grão Vasco’s painting
Viseu is the city of mansions and churches, of gastronomy of ancestral flavors and aromas, of Dão wine. One of the oldest localities in Portugal, its origin dates back to the Castrejo period. Throughout the region, there is a heritage and culture of great value. Churches, manor houses, cathedrals, streets, gardens, historical sites, piloris, rustic houses and villages mark the Roman domination at that time.
You can visit the historical center and discover all its history. Explore the Adro da Sé, one of the most beautiful squares in Portugal with four majestic buildings. The Varanda dos Cónegos and the Torre de Menagem, the Sé Cathedral, the Grão Vasco Museum and the Church of Mercy are attractive.
The city of Viseu also offers a delicious and varied traditional cuisine, combined with the flavors of the Dão wine. The wide range of soups, traditional dishes, the variety of bread and homemade desserts are remarkable recipes. They make Viseu a city of excellence for tourists.
Alcobaça: the ancient Portuguese city
“Whoever passes through Alcobaça will not pass without returning. ”The adage is very old, but it is still valid today. According to them, this city is perfect for living, walking, visiting, getting to know and feeling. Belonging to the district of Leiria, it is about 100 km from Lisbon. It is one of the obligatory crossing points for tourists who arrive in the capital of Portugal, in search of the most unforgettable heritage of the country.
In Alcobaça, several points of interest stand out, be they cultural, architectural or natural. One of the main attractions is undoubtedly the Monastery of Santa Maria d’Alcobaça. It was built in 1153 by order of D. Afonso Henriques, having already been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1989. There are also beautiful ruins of the castle with that of Leiria, Pombal and Óbidos. It was once an advanced line of fortifications. It protected the first Arab cities of this region: Lisbon and Santarém.
Alcobaça also stands out for its dishes, ceramics, cheetah handkerchiefs, fruits, jams, wines and sour Alcobaça cherry. And in terms of heritage, there is still a long way to go. The Monastery of Alcobaça, the National Wine Museum, the Church of Misericórdia, the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição and the pleasant walking trails are wonders to be visited during a trip.