Distinct architecture, a Templar castle, 15th century doors and churches, Baroque gardens and manor houses belonging to families with Historical roots. If you visit Castelo Branco, the capital of “Beira Baixa”, you will see all this in a place which combines tradition and novelty. As time went by, the city earned more and more heritage and although it is known internationally for its bedspreads, you will see that local architecture and food are also worth your while. The growth rate of Castelo Branco diverges from the quiet rural environment which surrounds it and it is the best of two worlds. Come and explore them.
Little is known about the History of Castelo Branco prior to the arrival of the Knights Templar. The foundation of the urban areas is attributed to the Knights Templar who might also have been responsible for building the castle and its walls between 1214 and 1230. The city’s old town still keeps memories from medieval times engraved into the stones of the wall which was later enlarged by order of King D. Dinis. During the reign of King Manuel, Castelo Branco was granted a new charter and both the population and the city’s urban space increased. Nowadays, the streets still proudly show 15th century houses with decorated doors and windows, a symbol of the wealth of traders who lived in them. Throughout the following years, Castelo Branco received the title of outstanding town and two of its most important churches, the Misericórdia and São Miguel churches, so richly decorated they are worth a long visit, were built. Nowadays the São Miguel church is the city’s Cathedral. Later, D. Nuno de Noronha ordered the lavish Episcopal Palace to be built and it became the symbol of Castelo Branco’s urbanity and importance during this period.
In Castelo Branco, you should visit:
- The Episcopal Palace garden
- The Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior Museum
- The Knights Templar Castle and the Santo António dos Capuchos Convent
- The Cargaleiro Museum, with paintings, ceramics, sculptures, tiles and tapestries made by Portuguese artists at Solar dos Cavaleiros
- The Cine Teatro Avenida, a Estado Novo (New State) building inaugurated in 1954
- The Castelo Branco Environment Interpretation Centre which holds an interactive exhibition regarding the natural heritage at International Tagus Natural Park
- The Sesmo, Almaceda and Taberna Seca river beaches