The Five Towns
It began as a proto-historical settlement and its denomination has an Arabic origin (al-haet = the wall). It features a fortification that played a decisive role in defending the region during the Portuguese Restoration War and that was attacked during the final fights of the 3rd French Invasion, in 1811.
From the top of the belvedere that will soon appear on the keep, we will be able to grasp its importance and dominion over the landscape: from there, we see some of the main ancient settlements (such as Sabugal Velho, São Cornélio or Jarmelo).
Quite nearby, to the east, we find the important sanctuary of Sacaparte.
Well known for his Cinco Quinas (“Five Escutcheons”) castle, to a great extent a work by king D. Dinis. Allegedly, the latter ordered the construction of its castle, bridge and fountain. The bridge still stands over the Côa under the castle, although with successive improvements, including the reconstruction of one of the arches destroyed by the river in 1908. In Largo da Fonte, we may find, near the original site, the new fountain, built in 1904.
The Museu of Sabugal, near the area of the historic village, is an excellent gateway into the council, with a longrunning exhibition focusing on Sabugal’s history.
Sortelha is one of the Historic Villages of Portugal. The deep renovation and restoration campaigns carried out during the 1990s largely reinstated the look and feel of a Portuguese Late Gothic town. While strolling along its streets, we may observe several interesting houses and also the main church, castle, pillory, oven, former Town Hall, court and prison.
At the highest area of the town, we are able to observe wonderful panoramic views over Cova da Beira and Serra da Estrela.
VILA DO TOURO
Town that once belonged to the Knights Templar and later to the Order of Christ, having been established in the 13th century. Its castle occupies a hill with vestiges of a proto-historical presence.
Strolling along the Direita and Pedro Alvito streets, we will find interesting examples of 16th century (Manueline) and later windows.
Near the Chapel of Our Lady of the Market, there is a game board engraved in an outcrop but, inside the castle, we find a good collection of other boards, demonstrating how medieval residents passed their time.
On top of the hill, the Leonese castle, with a keep later added by king D. Dinis. Dozens of mason’s marks identify many of its builders and the royal escutcheon underlines its Portuguese origin.
On the slope next to the castle, a bronze sword was found in the 1950s, currently exhibited in the Guarda Museum. Further down, next to the Museum, a panel of rock engravings attests the antiquity of this settlement.
The Cesarão river surrounds this hill, creating singular “giant’s kettles” on the rocks and cruises through an important area of Pyrenean oaks.