Crato – Historic Town in Portugal’s Alentejo

We visited Crato, down the road from the magical Pousada of Flor da Rosa, to see the castle of Crato and try and trace some of the town walls. 

The Castle is also known as Azinheiro Castle and although I can’t find information I wonder if it was originally a Moorish Castle. The town was reconquered in 1160 and it is hard to believe there was no fortification on the site to reconquer. The town became the headquarters of the Order of Christ (later the Order of Malta) in 1350. This was the Order which built the Monastery at Flor da Rosa, now the Pousada. Further, French-style fortifications were added in the 16C and 17C as part of the border fortifications, but they didn’t prevent a defeat by the Spaniards in 1662 from which the town never really recovered.

Map of Crato with possible gates

The Castle is situated at the highest point of Crato but it was locked when we visited and appears to be under renovation. From the side of the building there are wide views over the Alentejo, and perhaps an old road up the hill to Gate 1?

The Castle, Crato The Castle at Crato The wall of Crato

Gate 2? in the walls of Crato
Gate 2? in the walls of Crato
Gate 3? into the town of Crato
Gate 3? into the town of Crato

On the other side of the Castle there is what appears to be an old road up from the Roman bridge, and so there must have been a gate at this side of the town, Gate 5?

An old road into Crato from the Roman Bridge
An old road into Crato from the Roman Bridge

And a stretch of wall, with what appears to be roadway could have been Gate 4?

The Walls of Crato The Walls of Crato

The aim had been to see the Castle and a thorough exploration of the buildings in the town joins the ‘next-time’ list! However, all roads lead to the historic square where the Prior of Crato‘s palace stood, and of which only a balcony remains.

The balcony of the Prior of Crato's Palace

The Municipal Building on the Grand Square, Crato
The Municipal Building on the Grand Square, Crato

The Museum was firmly closed but the 18C building gives an idea of the importance and wealth of the town in past times. The Municipal Museum, Crato

The Church of Nossa Senhora de Conçeicão was built in the 13C and is the main church in the town. It was firmly closed, as on previous visits. The Parish Church, Crato The Parish Church, Crato

Do visit – this is an interesting town – I haven’t mentioned the stork apartment block and the Father Belo Museum

For further information
Crato Castle – Azinheiro Castle
Blog post on the Castle
Photographs of the interior of the Castle

 

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