The weather forecast suggested a chilly day with showers and so we decided on a day in Castelo Branco. We had visited before, in 2013, and had enjoyed the gardens. Portugal is changing and from searches on the internet it seemed as though there were considerable developments in Castelo Branco.
The Bishop’s Palace Gardens are formal, extravagant, and surprising, created by the Bishop of Guarda, Dom João de Mendonça (1711-36), and filled with ponds and fountains, statues, box hedges, and terraces. The five fountains represent the five wounds of Christ; the statues depict Kings of Portugal, Virtues, Bishops, Saints, and parts of the world; and the orange trees add scent to the gardens.
The adjacent Bishop’s Palace was built by an earlier Bishop of Guarda, Nuno de Noronha, between the years 1596 and 1598 and since 1971 houses the Francisco Tavares Proença Junior Museum. We visited because I wanted to see the embroidery particular to Castelo Branco. I believe there is also an interpretation centre in Castelo Branco where the creation of the embroideries can be investigated further – next time! The embroidery was inspired by that found in China and India through trade. The Palace itself is undergoing a planned restoration so may be closed – check before visiting. And do take change with you – the reception desk ummed and ahed about giving us change and it took about ten minutes to get in; then we were grudgingly herded through rooms by an attendant who forced the pace and wouldn’t allow deviations from his route – not encouraging to tourism!
Cultural visits are hard work and it was time for a coffee on the new square in the centre of the town. The new Cultural Centre looked amazing but did not invite visits – so we sat and looked at it from the warm and friend lunch cafe.
I had read about a new Art Gallery and we eventually found this through persistence rather than the inaccurate map! The Manuel Cargaleiro Museum houses his own paintings, collages, and pottery, as well the works of other artists. The new building is very beautiful and you should visit if you are in the town; the museum itself is also in the adjacent old palace. Here you will find a wonderful collection of ceramic plates.
There has been a settlement in this area since at least Roman times, but it was only in the 13C that the Templars built the Castle and the Walls. We didn’t explore historical Castelo Branco on this occasion, just catching a glimpse of ‘old’ town as we walked.
Do visit if you go to Portugal!
Castelo Branco Embroidery
Castelo Branco Embroidery
I love the embroideries, and the paintings from the Manuel Cargaleiro museum!
What a fabulous walk, Candy. I need to look at a map to find out exactly where this is; after I finish the Camino in late October, my husband will join me and we’ll be in the north of Portugal. Thanks for following me on “in search of a thousand cafes.” The post Jo linked to is my last post on that blog. I’ve started a new one where I’ll be posting all my travels going forward; you should be able to find it by clicking on this comment.
I love the embroidery, that Cultural Centre, the pottery, and the gardens. It looks like a lovely place to explore! 🙂
Thank you! You certainly get about! The Portuguese Camino? I don’t really know the north of Portugal but was in Galicia in 2014 – stunning! I very much empathise with your ideas about travelling with intention – I always say I am travelling, not going on holiday, and get some very funny looks. Nice to find a meeting point. I am travelling to Brittany in May to begin seriously documenting the parish enclosures – stunningly beautiful – with my camera. It is a difficult project and I am partly excited and partly quite nervous. Preparation involves quite a lot of research of all sorts and posts will appear in due course. I feel very encouraged by your solo adventures – thank you!
Hi Candy. I’m actually doing the Camino Frances, but since I’ll end in Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain, we’ll make our way down to Portugal from there, ending in Lisbon. I’ve been to Lisbon before, but my husband hasn’t. We’ll be celebrating our 30th anniversary! I’m currently replying to your email in more detail, but I’m very excited to read what speaks to you about these parish enclosures. I’m excited to follow your journey and see the art you make as a result of your travels. I’m sure you’re very excited, and maybe nervous because you want to create something beautiful. I know the feeling. I love it and can’t wait to follow. 🙂
Jo’s Monday walk : Among the fisherfolk | restlessjo
[…] Castelo Branco […]
The gardens look wonderful. We’re due a trip north next year and I shall keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 🙂
Wonderful! Pousadas at Beja, Vila Vicosa, Flor de Rosa, and Belmonte and fascinating border castles and towns…
Ah, Marvao is incredible! But it is not close to Castelo Branco; instead do visit Castelo do Vide – walled town, castle, mediaeval town, Ghetto, interesting buildings. In the area are some extraordinary megaliths (tourist office can advise), and Ammaia is a Roman site in the Park. Portalegre has a fascinating tapestry museum (and a regional museum), and if you have time and inclination the Pousada at Flor de Rosa and adjacent Crato will take you by surprise. In all these places you need time to walk round, however. Do email me for more – I would love to hear where you are going!
Thanks. We were planning to stay in Marvão overnight, looks like Castelo Branco is not too far away. Will definitely stop by.