Vila Vicosa Tourist Attractions

Vila VicosaVila Vicosa
Vila Viçosa is about 55km/34mi northeast of Évora, on the slopes of hills covered with orchards. It was at one time the seat of the Dukes of Bragança, and several kings from the same house, but with the abolition of the monarchy in 1910 it declined into provincial obscurity. The economy of the region depends on marble quarrying.

Paço Ducal

The main attraction, on the way into the town from Borba, is the Paço Ducal, the palace of the Dukes of Bragança. Built in the 16th and 17th centuries on the remains of Moorish, possibly even Roman buildings, for centuries it hosted a brilliant court and was a hub of intellectual life. In 1640 Joao IV was the first of the Dukes of Bragança to ascend the Portuguese throne. Although Lisbon then became the seat of the monarchy Joao IV and his successors continued making frequent visits to Vila Viçosa.
There are guided tours round the palace, which is full of objets d'art from the 16th to the 19th C., although the most valuable were taken to the new quarters in Lisbon in the mid 17th C. What remains is quite grand enough painted ceilings and family portraits, 17th C. azulejos, tapestries, porcelain, a well stocked armory and a collection of coaches. The chapel, which has a 16th C. triptych, is particularly worth seeing. The inner courtyard appears to have been modeled on a cloister.
Address: Terreiro do Paço, 7160-251 Vila Viçosa, Portugal

Terreiro do Paço

The spacious Terreiro do Paço, or palace square, in front of the palace has an equestrian statue of King Joao IV in the center, and before the palace was built served at times as a bullring.

Tombs of the Dukes of Bragança

On the east side of the Terreiro do Paço, opposite the Paço Ducal, is the church of the former Augustinian convent (17th/18th C.), with a richly decorated interior. It contains the tombs of the Dukes of Bragança; their spouses were interred in the Antigo Convento das Chagas, built in the 16th C. and restored in the 18th, which is on the south side of the square.
Address: Praça da República, 7160-207 Vila Viçosa, Portugal

Parco dos Duques de Braganca

The small formal garden contains a cloister garden, Box and Lady's gardens, woodland walk and an ornamental tank in different periods' features.

Porta dos Nós

The Porta dos Nós is the eyecatching "knot gate" north of the palace on the Borba road. It was part of the old 16th C. wall round the town and is the entrance to the 5,000 acre Tapada, once the royal deerpark, where the Portuguese royal family hunted until early this century.

Igreja de Santa Cruz

Adjoining the 16th C. Igreja de Santa Cruz in the town center is a small museum of sacred art.

Castelo

The massive battlemented castle, or Castelo, that looms over the town, was built by King Dinis in the 13th C. and reinforced with bastions in the 17th. Visitors can walk around the ramparts surrounding the old town. Within the ramparts can be found the Renaissance da Conceiçao church and a hunting museum.

Pelourinho

There is a 16th C. pelourinho on the main road near the castle.

Surroundings

Alandroal, Portugal

The village of Alandroal, with the ruins of one of King Dinis's 13th C. castles, is about 10km/6mi south of Vila Viçosa. There is an impressive fountain in the market square.

Terena

Above Terena, 10km/6mi farther south from Alandroal, are the ruins of another medieval castle, with panoramic views.

Borba, Portugal

The attractive old world little town of Borba (6km/4mi north of Vila Viçosa) is renowned for the white marble quarried nearby.
The life of the town revolves around the Praça do Cinco de Outubro with the town hall (1797) and parish church. Also worth a visit is the church of Sao Bartolomeu, a 16th C. Renaissance building with a beautiful door, brightly painted stone vaulting and rich azulejo cladding. In the Convento das Servas note the two story cloister with an azulejoclad fountain in the middle. Near the town center, at the junction with the road to Vila Viçosa, stands the Fonte das Bicas (1781), a magnificent marble fountain in its own little park.

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