Border Castles in Portugal

I love the wideness and openness of the beautiful Alentejo countryside – rolling hills, olive and cork oak trees, and myriads of flowers in the springtime. In the east there are also numerous castles on top of the hills, protecting the border with Spain for hundreds of years.  This was a day outing from Vila Viçosa in 2017 when one of those variable days was forecast and countryside walking didn’t seem sensible.

The main road from Vila Vicosa to Alandroal

The main road from Vila Vicosa to Alandroal

We had visited Alandroal to see the castle the previous year so just stopped to look at the town this time. Then Terena popped into view; the sky threatened, and cleared, and we arrived at Portel.

Alandroal Castle

Alandroal Castle

Terena Castle

Terena Castle

The main road from Terena to Portel

The bridge over the Alquevar Reservoir

The bridge over the Alquevar Reservoir

The countryside around the Alquevar Reservoir

The countryside around the Alquevar Reservoir

The countryside around the Alquevar Reservoir

The countryside around the Alquevar Reservoir

Portel Castle

Portel Castle

Portel The Castle was built in the 13C as part of King Dinis’ border fortification programme. It was modified in later centuries and rescued from total ruin late in the 20C. On our visit it was closed (!) but might repay a visit at opening times.

The Castle of Portel, with the Convent of Sao Francisco da Piedade in the background

The Castle of Portel, with the Convent of Sao Francisco da Piedade in the background

Gates into the Castle of Portel

Gates into the Castle of Portel

The second set of walls surrounding the 'old' village

The second set of walls surrounding the ‘old’ village

One of the old roads into Portel

One of the old roads into Portel

One of the old roads into Portel

One of the old roads into Portel

A Fountain on one of the old roads into Portel

A Fountain on one of the old roads into Portel

Gate into the Castle

Gate into the Castle

The Town Hall is an impressive building, with a crest, but I can’t find anything about its history, which is odd. Dom Nuno Alvares Pereira, Constable of Portugal, was clearly an extraordinary man, born in Flor da Rosa, and remembered with a statue in front of the Town Hall in Portel, amongst other places.

The Town Hall in Portel with a statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira

The Town Hall in Portel with a statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira

Nuno Alvares Pereira

Nuno Alvares Pereira

There are many more places to visit in Portel but we were running out of time and we set off again, through beautiful Alentejo countryside. I had noticed a castle symbol on the map and was determined to find it – somewhere near Montoito. We drove out of Montoito on the CM1095 to find the Castle of Valongo.

The Castle of Valongo seems to date from the 13C and is now in private ownership.

The Castle of Valongo

The Castle of Valongo

And so back to Vila Viçosa.

Further information
Interesting blog on Portel with good photographs
Fascinating website – the World of Castles

Hiking Trails around Portel
Historical notes on Portel
Tour of Alentejo Castles – a listing of castles worth seeing