Beja was a surprise after the northern part of the Alentejo! We had been staying in the Pousada at Flor de Rosa and drove down to the south of the Alentejo via Estremoz. It was a rainy day and I was feeling increasingly ill as I couldn’t stop coughing, so the photographs are not worth showing you. A pharmacist in Estremoz was very helpful and a cough syrup and very strong anti-congestants gradually helped, unlike the prescriptions from the GP in the UK…
In Beja we stayed in the Pousada São Francisco – a wonderful base for exploring in the area for a few days.. The first records of the Monastery date from the 13C and it was converted into a luxury hotel in the early 1990s. Don’t be intimidated by ‘luxury’ – the prices at this hotel compare more than favourably with FlyBnB and standard hotels – do consider staying here if you plan to visit the area.
As befits a Monastery there is a Cloister, and this one has a well in the centre, linked to an underground cistern. Around the Cloister are covered walkways where one can imagine the monks of the past strolling, or meditating.
In 1834, the monasteries were ‘dissolved’ or secularised and the gold plated altars in the Monastery’s Church were transferred to the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Piedade elsewhere in the town. There is a second, smaller Chapel in the Pousada, the Gothic Chapel, which is atmospheric and certainly takes one back to Mediaeval times.
The Chapter House is now a quiet room for sitting and reading, writing, or working. There is a wonderfully painted ceiling and the room overlooks the Cloister.
The Refectory continues its original function as the contemporary dining room, a long and peaceful room where you can enjoy delicious food – the pork cheek with pears in red wine was wonderful, as was the Bolo Réal.
Outside there is a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a garden offering shade in the summer.
Do consider staying in one of the historic pousadas – these are wonderfully atmospheric and beautiful buildings, very reasonably priced (particularly if you are a ‘mature’ traveller) and with plenty of rooms in which to relax outside the bedrooms.
Pousada of Beja