Visiting an area or town for the first time usually means seeing the ‘obvious’ sights first, returning if there is time and I particularly enjoyed something, then I move on to the ‘secondary’ sights, and after that I am free to wander at will! Put like that it sounds a bit obsessional but I like to understand as best I can the history or background of the area I am visiting.
The Pousada in Beja is just outside the walls of the old town and we walked through what must have been one of the Gates of the town to our first stop, the Regional Museum, the Museum of Rainha Donna Leonor, which is situated in the former Royal Convent of Our Lady of the Conception of the 15C. I returned to this building because it was so beautiful and will post separately – this is just a whistle-stop tourist tour of the town!
From here it is a brisk ten-minute walk through the Republic Square with the Igreja da Misericorda at one end to the Castle. This was the site of a Roman fortification, and then a Moorish Castle – I find I am very aware of times passed in Portugal’s Alentejo. The Mediaeval Tower was built entirely from marble, the Torre de Menagem, and is a landmark in the town.
And adjacent to the Castle is the Cathedral of St James which dates from 1590, built on the site of an earlier church.
Just outside the walls of the town is the Church of Santa Amaro which houses the Visigothic collection of the Regional Museum and is also one of the most important Visigothic collections in Portugal. The church is on the site of a Visigothic Temple dating to 6C and some parts of the Temple are incorporated into the church, making it one of the oldest buildings in Portugal. More pre-historic and Roman remains of the town can be seen in the Museum of Rua Sembrano.
There are many churches in Beja but they are often closed. The Church of Santa Maria, near the Regional Museum, the Church of Nossa Senhora da Piedade (which houses the altars from the Pousada), and the Church of Our Lady of Joy next to one of the gates into the town, are just a few which we passed.
This was just a whistle-stop tour – I am going to show you the Regional Museum at a more leisurely pace, and wander through the town with my camera.
Interesting post on a visit to Beja