Avis, like many towns in the Alentejo, probably has pre-historic and Roman roots. It was then controlled by the Moors until retaken by the Portuguese in 1211. The King gave the land to the Friars of Evora with the directive to build a Castle to secure the area. The Military Order of the Knights of St Benedict of Avis, a branch of the Monastery of Evora, was established in Avis under John of Avis, and the castle was built between 1214-23. Some of the walls, with gateways like the impressive Town Gateway, and other gateways, can still be found.
And alongside one of the gateways, the Chapel of the Misericordia.
Inside the walls this imposing gateway leads down the high street to a square and the 15C parish church which was closed and so I can’t tell you anymore.
Quiet squares and grand mansions attest to the importance of the town.
John of Avis, the Master of the Order, with the support of Nuno Alvares Pereira (the son of the Founder of the Monastery of Flor da Rosa, and later Constable of Portugal) to decisively defeat the Spanish at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. In brief, John was crowned King and married Philippa of Lancaster (the connection to England), establishing the House of Avis in control of Portugal for the next two centuries. The Monastery of St Benedict has been restored in part and houses a Municipal Museum. The adjacent building, now used as Municipal Offices, was the house of the Master of the Order.
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