Portalegre is a lovely Alentejo’s town, situated in an area of landscape transition between the Plain traditional terrain with the Mountain area of the central region, in a region of great natural beauty.
Portalegre is located in the São Mamede mountain range, next to the Natural Park, housing a diversified fauna and fauna.
Portalegre is also located nearby the Spanish border, therefore having an important defence and strategic influence for the protection of the Portuguese kingdom, notably during the Middle Age. During this period, Portalegre suffered great development in different areas, namely with the establishment of the Franciscan Order in the São Francisco and in the Santa Clara Convents. Nevertheless, Portalegre counts with quite ancient human occupation, with some archaeological vestiges from pre-historical times, but also, a strong inheritance from the Roman and Moorish occupation period. On the 16th century, Portalegre was an important economical and administrative centre, maintaining its importance on the 17th and 18th centuries, when several Manor houses and small palaces, among other public monuments were built, attesting the importance of the town at that time, still visible nowadays.
The historical centre is quite charming, with narrow winding streets, with local small shops and historical façades, all with the typical Alentejo’s peace of mind, where time seems to have stop.
Several monuments symbolize the importance and wealth of other times, like the Castle, the Cathedral or the São Lourenço, Misericórdia, São Cristóvão, Bonfim, São Tiago, Espírito Santo Churches, among many other that show the religious devotion of the region. Also quite interesting is the House-Museum of the Portuguese Poet José Régio, and the many fountains of the region that have been able to get preserved right up until these days.
Portalegre is also famous for its creative Tapestries, recreating paintings of several artists, innovating on the basis of a traditional technique, the design is built up stitch by stitch with about 25,000 stitches per m². These tapestries are visible in the interesting Guy Fino Museum.
Portalegre was once known as the “town of the seven convents”, and this inheritance is still visible nowadays in the traditional conventual Pastry of the region, like the many specialities from the Santa Clara convent, based mainly on eggs, sugar and dried fruits.