Borba

Before I take you to Beja in 2018 we are going to hop back to 2017 when we were based at Vila Viçosa and spent four wonderful days exploring the area. On this day rain was forecast so we planned a little car tour and activities and walks which offered shelter! We had visited the Marble Museum in Vila Viçosa and the Fortress of Juromenha and now we headed for Borba. 

Borba is a surprisingly attractive small town close to Vila Viçosa. It has a Castle and Walls built by King Alfonso II (1185-1223) and is surrounded by marble quarries in the usual Alentejo countryside of cork oaks, vineyards, and olive trees. We started with a visit to The Olive ‘Museum’ attached to the Tourist Office. The Tourist Office official was interesting and helpful – do try!

The Castle was built in the 13C and its Mediaeval walls, with two old gateways, are clearly visible as you walk into the centre of the town. Sometimes you need to look up because houses are built against the walls and only when you look up do you see the crenellations. Inside the Castle there is a Clock Tower and old Prison, but we did not visit on this occasion. At the Gate of Estremoz an old inscription confirms the Mediaeval building works.

Mediaeval Walls & Gate, Borba
Mediaeval Walls & Gate of Estremoz, Borba
Sign on old town gate, Borba
Sign on Gate of Estremoz, Borba
Mediaeval Walls & Gate, Borba
Mediaeval Walls & Gate of Celeiro, Borba
Castle of Borba
Castle of Borba

Like all these Mediaeval towns religion was important and there are many churches, but you have to be lucky to find them open. The Church of St Bartholomew dates from the 16C, probably replacing an earlier building on the same site. Sadly it was firmly closed when we visited. It stands on a quiet square with a statue of St Bartholomew, and adjacent to it is the Church of Nossa Senhora da Soledade, with a curious cross on the wall outside.

Cross on the wall of Nossa Senhora de Soledade
Cross on the wall of Nossa Senhora de Soledade

The Chapel of the Stations of the Cross, the Via Crucis, was created in the 18C from white marble. But there are others around the town and they all look very similar.

A street in Borba with the Chapel of the Stations of the Cross on the left
A street in Borba with the Chapel of the Stations of the Cross on the left

The streets are fascinating and the street named after Antonio de Melo de Castro, a Portuguese Colonial Administrator in the 17C reminds us of the extent of the Portuguese Empire. We were watching the approaching clouds quite carefully as we walked round!

Street in Borba

Street in Borba

Palacete dos Melos is now the Library and it was closing as we walked in – one of those days! The palace was built in the first half of the 18C and judging by the name it must have belonged to one of the artistocratic families of Portugal.  Oddly, I can’t find any further information. And opposite the Palace is another of the Chapels of the Station of the Cross.

Entrance to the Palacete dos Melos
Entrance to the Palacete dos Melos
Chapel of the Stations of the Cross
Chapel of the Stations of the Cross
Chapel of the Stations of the Cross
Chapel of the Stations of the Cross
Carving on the Chapel
Carving on the Chapel

The Fountain of Bicas is in the Republic Square and was built in 1781 – it is an extraordinary sight! It was dedicated to Queen Maria I and King Pedro III

The Cemetery is next to the Fountain and unlike the War Graves Cemeteries those killed in World Wars were commemorated with a cross and buried in family vaults.

Of course we didn’t find all the interesting buildings, churches, or nooks and crannies in our few hours but I would certainly return and can recommend this unlikely town to you for a visit.

Further information
The Castle of Borba

History of Borba
Portuguese Olive Oil

One comment

  1. I remember passing the sign for Borba and the quarries but we didn’t have time to stop. I seem to remember it being damp too. 🙂 🙂 Love that shot through the gate and town walls.

    Like

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