Vila Vicosa, a charming sleepy old town and a true jewel of Alentejo
Probably there is no mystery, I am very fond of Portugal. I am fascinated by its beauty, architecture and history, well, also by its food. So there is no surprise that especially the lesser known places are having such an impression on me. 40 km from the border with Spain, in a region with the best quality marble and surrounded by lush vegetation you can find Vila Vicosa.
Its rich soils and marble are what contributed with the development of this town since antiquity. From a small settlement that was quarrying the marble in the Roman time and then part of the Visigothic Kingdom went under the Moorish Occupation in the 8th century. By 1217 being in the are of influence by the Order of Aviz was freed from Moorish occupation. After the Moors, the newly formed kingdom had to face a new threat, the Castilians and their expansive ambitions. The Castle of Vila Vicosa was built as a defensive fortress against The Castilians. Personally, I think this castle is the most interesting feature of Vila Vicosa.
In the 15th century, the village was attributed to the House of Braganza. Their wealth was like a breath of fresh air for the village. They built a palace outside the castle`s walls to measure their wealth and importance and in 1640 when a Duke of Braganca became a king Vila Vicosa begin to be their summer residence.
While visiting, I had to choose whether to see the Palace or the Castle. I choose the castle despite the rain. There is something amazing to just walk on those walls and look from there at the town that developed outside the walls.
Vila Vicosa is not spectacular, but its charm and simplicity just make you want to dive into its streets and look at the white facades and wonder. Here is where you feel Portugal and what means Portuguese life. It is like being back in time but with so many proofs of modern life around and feels like walking in an open-air museum and somehow the linear time you knew becomes a loop. You are back in time but at the same time, you are in the present.
After visiting the castle I had to leave the town, I was 200km away from my final destination and I felt the call of the Ocean. I had some regrets because I can’t say I have seen everything I wanted to see. But, who knows. One day, I may return…