Built upon a granite massif near Serra de Opa, Sortelha is a small village which has kept its medieval outline. Its houses, surrounded by the walls of the majestic castle, follow the irregularities of the land. The place where it was established, which was difficult to reach, made the defence against enemy attacks easier and it has always shown clear advantages for military strategies. That is why it has been inhabited since the Neolithic.
After its first castreja town, it was occupied by the Romans, the Visigoths and the Arabs until, after the Christian Reconquista, because of its proximity to the Kingdom of Castile, King Sancho I considered essential to repopulate it. King Sancho II, who in 1228 had granted it the charter, ordered a castle to be built on top of an impressive granite highland. Later, the keep and the alcazaba were reinforced by the oval walls which still protect the town houses, probably built by order of King D. Dinis. The venturous King Manuel renovated the charter and ordered a pelourinho to be built at the bottom of the fortification at a time when the town was slowly expanding outside the walls.
Sortelha still keeps its medieval legacy, its houses spread like a granite amphitheatre nestled between the walls, shadowed by the high silhouette of the keep, a memory from the first histories of Portugal.
In Sortelha, you should visit:
- The castle and the walls
- The Via Sacra Steps
- The matriz church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows
- The São Sebastião and Santiago chapels
- The old Misericórdia Hospital and the Misericórdia church
- The numerous manor houses of the town
- The “Pedra do Beijo” and the “Cabeça da Velha”, two unusual shaped granite rocks