Viseu Tourist Attractions
The old district capital of Viseu is on the left bank of the Rio Pavia, set in woodland in the famous Dao region. It is an important center for agriculture (grain, fruit, livestock) and crafts (lace, carpets, black pottery). In the 16th C. Viseu had one of Portugal's most important schools of painting, foremost among them being the landscape painter Gaspar Vaz (d. 1568) and Vasco Fernandes, known as Grao-Vasco (d. 1542), who was born here.TownscapeIts handsome Renaissance and Baroque mansions and palaces, narrow alleys paved with granite sets, flights of steps and intriguing corners lend Viseu a particular charm.
Praça da República
The Praça da República, in the center with the town hall on its west side, is a good place to start a walk round the town.
Igreja de Sao Francisco
The Baroque church of Sao Francisco in Viseu, on the south side of the Praça da República, has rich azulejo and talha dourada decoration.
Museu de Almeida Moreira
Praça da Sé
North from the Museu de Almeida Moreira, through the Porta do Soar, built in the town wall in the 15th C., is the old town, and at its heart, the Praça da Sé, where it is thought that in prehistoric times there was already a Celtic Iberian fort.
Igreja da Misericórdia
A broad flight of steps leads up from the Praça da Sé in Viseu to the church of the Misericórdia, a building of pure Baroque, its granite pilasters standing out against whitewashed walls.
The Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral, or Sé, opposite the Misericord Church, was first built in the 12th C., remodeled in the 16th and extended in the 18th. In the central niche above the door is a statue of St Theotonius, the town's patron saint.The interior was transformed into a hall church in the 16th C. by the reconstruction of the vaulting, which is Manueline but supported by Gothic pillars. Above the monumental Baroque high altar is a 14th C. figure of the Virgin. The chapterhouse contains a remarkable treasury of sacred art.The ground floor of the cloister is Renaissance, the gallery in the upper story having been added in the 17th C.
Museu de Grao Vasco
The Grao Vasco, or "great Vasco" Museum is in the Paço dos Três Escaloes, the Renaissance palace, remodeled in the 18th C., which adjoins the Cathedral. The museum has some 13th to 16th C. sculpture but primarily shows the work of the Viseu School of painting, including "St Peter" and "Crucifixion" by Vasco Fernandes, etc. There are also works by more modern Portuguese artists (19th and 20th C.), as well as by Spanish, French, Flemish and Dutch masters, together with ceramics (16th-18th C.), carpets and furniture (17th and 18th C.).
Address: Largo da Sé, Portugal
Opening hours: 10am-6pm; Tue: 2pm-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Anniversity of the Revolution - Portugal (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), National Day - Portugal (Jun 10), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), Republic Day - Portugal (Oct 5), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Independence Day - Portugal (Dec 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Good Friday - Christian, Corpus Christi - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €1.50, Child 14 & under FREE
From behind the Cathedral little streets lead down to Viseu's main street, now largely pedestrianized, the Rua Direita with particularly lovely 16th to 18th C. houses, some of them with wrought iron grilles. To get back to this little walk's starting point go south down the Rua Direita then right into the Rua Formosa, ending up back at the Praça da República.
Cava de Viriato
The Cava de Viriato, outside the town center and in the northern part of Viseu, is a big pentagonal shaped park where there was once a Lusitanian-Roman camp. There is a monument to the Lusitanian leader Viriathus who was supposed to have made his heroic stand against the Romans here in the second century B.C.
St Matthew's Fair
A very attractive trip is the 40km/25mi southwest from Viseu through the scenic rugged hills of the Serra do Caramulo (up to 1,071m/3,514ft) to the charmingly situated hillside health resort of Caramulo (800m/2,625ft).
Museu do Caramulo
Caramulo's main attraction is the Museu do Caramulo, with exhibits ranging from medieval art, furniture, tapestries, porcelain and ceramics, to a remarkable collection of works by Portuguese and other European artists, particularly of the 19th and 20th C., including works by such famous painters as Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Chagall, Léger, Dufy and Vlaminck.The exhibition on the ground floor traces the development of the car since 1902 (about 50 veteran and vintage vehicles). One of the most valuable vintage cars is a 1937 Mercedes Pullman which was originally owned by Prime Minister José Salazar. The valuable treasures and old cars were collected by Abel de Lacerda; since his death his brother has continued this unique museum.
The little town of Mangualde about 13km/8mi southeast of Viseu has a 17th C. palace of the Counts of Anadia in the middle of a rather wild park. The pilgrimage church of Nossa Senhora do Castelo (628m/2,060ft) stands on a hill with a view about 1.5km/1mi to the north.
Map of Viseu Attractions