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Vila Viçosa

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The Ducal Palace
This was the former residence of the Dukes of Braganza from the beginning of the 16th century and was commenced in 1501-1502 (the north wing) and completed in the 18th century. The main façade is completely covered with local marble and takes Italian Renaissance architecture as its inspiration. The building has three floors and each one, from the ground floor to the last, corresponds to one of the classical orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

Within the fifty rooms open to the public are housed precious private art collections and extremely rare books which originally belonged to King Manuel II, Portugal's last reigning monarch. The art collection includes paintings by the best Portuguese artists of last century, Flemish and French tapestries, frescoes on walls and ceilings, furniture, porcelain from the Far East, Portugal, Italy and other countries, old armor including some very rare pieces made in the Far East, Portugal, Germany, France, etc. In the Library, which houses over 50,000 volumes and has a public reading room, there is a reserved collection of old Portuguese printed books (15th and 16th century), amongst which are to be found first editions of Os Lusíadas (1572), Comentários ao Pentateuco (1489), Vita Christi (1495), Almanaque de Abrado Zacuto (1496), Livro de Marco Paulo (1502), Tratado da Esfera by Pedro Nunes (1537), etc.


Palace Square
This open and airy square, with a total area of about sixteen thousand square meters is one of the most beautiful ones in the country. It is situated at the entrance of this noble and aristocratic town, when entering from Borba, Estremoz and the border town of Elvas. To its right are the Royal Chapel and the Palace gardens.

Porta do Nós
Before entering this beautiful square, look at the famous and delicate "Porta dos Nós" Knot Door, which symbolises the aristocratic power of the Braganzas, and on the left, the "Porta do No", the former entrance gate to the town, which evokes the Restoration of Portuguese independence in 1640 and the Patron Saint of the Kingdom of Portugal.

The visitor will surely marvel at the imposing statue of King João IV on horseback and at the majesty of the old residential palace of the Dukes of Braganza and the churches which house their spoils.

Also worth a visit are the former Bishop's Palace "Real Capela" (1580-1743) and the 16th century residence of the Tovar Caminha family

Knot Door

Duke Pantheon Duchess Pantheon
Vila Viçosa formerly had many convents. There used to be seven in the town, and all of them have left their traces.

In the Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square), Agostinhos (the Augustinian convent), founded in the thirteenth century and rebuilt in the seventeenth, was used as the burying place of the Dukes of Braganza from 1677 onwards. The church is an example of Portuguese Baroque, with its imposing but rather heavy facade flanked by two tall bell towers.

On the south side of the Square, almost directly opposite, is the convent of Chagas (the Wounds of Christ), which has a Renaissance doorway and is one of the most curious architectural features of the town. It was later used as the burying place of the Duchesses. The inside walls of the church are completely covered with multicoloured decorative wall tiles dating from 1626; the high altar is rich in gilt carving and sixteenth century paintings.

Another noteworthy convent building is that of Esperança (hope), situated at the eastern end of the town. The church, also richly decorated with wall tiles, is greatly enriched by the frescoes, considered to be amongst the most precious and rare examples in the country.

Duke Pantheon
Duchess Pantheon

This is a truly imposing monument. Looking west, the Porta de Evora, one of the five entrance gates built into the walls first raised by King Dinis in the Middle Ages, dominates the wide avenue leading to the fortified town.

The Castle was reconstructed in the 17th century due to the War of Restoration of Portuguese Independence, in which it played an active part.

  Castle Doors

The Pillory
Opposite the Porta da Torre, where the Praça Velha da Câmara and the prison used to be, halfway along the Avenida dos Duques de Bragança leading from Agostinhos to the Castle, is the graceful decorative pillory, in Gothic Manueline style and one of the most beautiful ones in Portugal. On a quadrangular slate pillar sit four roughly sculpted frogs. The pillory is eight meters high and is topped by an open spherical distaff, festooned with garlands an acanthous leaves. Because of its beauty, uniqueness and historical and cultural value, it is considered to be a national monument and a true symbol of the town.
The Royal Park "Famous and delightful place", as the chronicler of the voyage of, through "the Spains" called it Cosine de Médicis, more than 300 years ago, the Royal Park, a vast piece of land between the town and the ancient royal road, was and still is today a magnificent hunting park, privileged by the Lords of Braganza's House, and particularly by king Carlos (Charles), enjoyed moments of leisure during shooting parties.

With its fifteenth century stately house, its three chapels, five gates, its brooks and fountains, the Royal Park deserves a visit. The visitor can participate in the walks that the local tourism organizes and enjoy the pleasures of an unforgettable walk in the middle of wild animals, to rest at the "Marco da Lua", meeting point of the hunters in ancient times and enjoy the beautiful wild and rough landscape of this piece of Alentejo.
The Royal Park


Vila Viçosa has many churches, some of them of great historical and artistic interest and well worth a visit. Senhora da Lapa, for example, at the western end of Campo da Restauração, was built in 1756. It has a very elegant Baroque façade in front of which is a beautiful fifteenth century white marble cross. In the same square there is another smaller church, São João Baptista (St. John the Baptist), whose main peculiarity is the radiating roof structure, built in Moorish style. In the center of the town, next to the Hospital, is the Espirito Santo (Holy Spirit) or Misericórdia (Mercy) church. It was built in the sixteenth century and has a Renaissance doorway, and Lapa Church inside may be seen some excellent examples of religious art, gilt carving and decorative wall tiles. Between the convent of Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) and the Castle. in the square with the same name, is the church of Santo António (St. Anthony) another example of the Renaissance style. equally rich in decorative wall tiles.

Saint Bartholomew
Completely dominating the western side of the old Praça Nova is the 17th century church of São João Evangelista (St. John the Evangelist), now serving the parish of São Bartolomeu, which formerly belonged to the Jesuit college.
The façade is impressive in the Baroque manner and covered with local marble. It has three levels of windows, three doorways with Doric columns, and is topped by two exuberantly decorated bell towers (but no spires), each holding six bells including the famous Caracena, which formerly chimed the hours in the Castle Keep but was badly damaged in the War of Restoration of Portuguese Independence by troops headed by the Spanish general after whom the bell is named. Inside the church, abounding in marble and gilt carving, the gilt tabernacle is particularly noteworthy and wooden sculpture and 17th and 18th century paintings may be seen.

Saint Bartholomew

Our Lady of the Conception The Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of the Conception), originally called Santa Maria do Castelo (Holy Mary within the Castle) is situated inside the old town walls and has already been visited by Pope John Paul II.
It was remodeled after the great earthquake of 1755 but was altered even further in the nineteenth century, when it took on the sober appearance it retains to this days. The inside, which has three naves supported by strong Doric columns, is open and welcoming. Besides the precious set of 17th century blue and yellow wall tiles, its artistic treasures include valuable pieces such as the precious 17th century tabernacle in the Capela do Santíssimo (the Chapel of the Sacrament), the Holy Thorn from Christ's Crown, the furniture belonging to the Brotherhoods and valuable jewels donated to the treasury. In the chancel itself, with oil paintings and excellent gilt carving, we find the image of the Patron Saint. The latter primitive sculpture has been dated to the 14th century, and is protected by a silver grid.

Our Lady of the Conception


Weaponry Museum
The first part of this rich assemblage of rare pieces, of great and rare beauty, was inaugurated in June 1992 and the last part in October 1997. Both parts integrate weapons and other pieces for hunting signed weapons and shooting, namely, by Franz Mazemkof, a rifle Bartolomeu Gomes, an English blunderbuss with six barrels (c. 1850), and the gun used by the Royal Prince in the 1908's regicide. There are still the exotic weapons of King Fernando II's collection, the American weapons offered to King D. Carlos, and the hunting weapons he used.

The Palace Treasure
Its most important piece is the so called "Cruz de Vila Viçosa" (Vila Viçosa's Cross) with a relic of the Holy Cross inside, a masterpiece of great artistic beauty made between 1656 and 1673 by Filipe Valejo by charge of the Duke of Braganza João II, future King João IV. In this exhibition we can also see more than 170 beautiful jewelry pieces, as the cross of Catherine of Braganza, the Caravel cutlery case offered by the monarch to King Manuel II when he married, pieces of the religious cult. Beside other jewelry pieces, in this part of the museum, there are also magnificent paintings and Flemish tapestries of the 15th century, gold liturgical garments and some remarkable pieces of artistic pottery.

The Hunting Museum The Hunting Museum is found in the Vila Viçosa Castle and holds the Carvalho collection with a number of important hunting species from Africa and birds from the Iberian Peninsula as well as royal gifts and pieces from the royal family. Beautiful hunting firearms from renowned manufacturers complete this exhibition which has the aim of promoting knowledge and interest for hunting to a vast public. Nearly 2000 pieces are visible in a remarkable setting which permits the public to view a wide range of this sumptuous collection of pieces from all over the world.

The Hunting Museum

The Archeology Museum
Inaugurated in May 1999 expose, such as the previous ones, under the care of the House of Brabanza's Foundation, in several rooms on the ground floor of the Castle a remarkable collection of archaeological pieces of different periods, with relief to the roman pieces found in the region and to the collections gathered by King Luis I.

The Sacred Art Museum Inaugurated in May 1999, under the care of the House of Brabanza's Foundation, in several rooms on the ground floor of the Castle a remarkable collection of archaeological pieces of different periods, with relief to the roman pieces found in the region and to the collections gathered by King Luis I.

In the church of ancient convent of the Holy Cross (antigo convento de Santa Cruz), with its entrance in Rua Florbela Espança, we can find the D. Manuel Mendes da Conceição Santos Sacred Art Museum, where we can see pieces from different churches of the region in the section of jewelry, painting, sculpture, furniture and liturgical garments with valuable specimens from the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Sacred Art Museum

The Musical Archive Library Museum
in the House of The Musical Archive Library Museum there is a precious musical archive formed by a large number of pieces proceeding from the ancient school of music, from the Ducal chapel, offered by the 8th Duke of Braganza Duke D. João II (John II), later on King D. João IV (John IV), who was an extraordinary composer. This archive also possesses a rare collection of opera librettos from the 18th and 19th centuries it can be consulted in the reading rooms in the Library Museum.

The Municipal Historical Archive
In association with the library of ancient books (from the 15th to the 19th centuries), in the town we can visit and consult the important historical archive of the City Hall, that also integrates the Misericordia's Archive, composed by almost 2000 books, old manuscripts and several documents dated from the 15th to the 19th century.

The Coach Museum Wide collection of ancient coaches, sedan-chairs, berlines, and "caradaus", from the 17th to the 20th century. It is installed in the ancient horse stables next to the Palace of the Dukes. Highlighted among the 73 vehicles exhibited there, are some coaches and Berlins from the 18th century belonging to the Royal Family and a large variety of Ceremonial Vehicles from the 19th century and 20th centuries.Coach.

House of Braganza Historical Archive
Situated in the Ancient Bishop Palace, this historical archive, the richest private archive from the country, is constituted by almost 200,000 pieces, chronologically placed between the 15th and 19th centuries. From its contents we can point out some parchments from the 15th century, codices, from the 16th century such as the Books of Mercies of ancient House of Braganza from 17th to 20th centuries connected with the ducal chancellery and the ancient "almoxarifado" (tax collectors) from Minho and Trás-os-Montes to Alentejo. Although having an almost administrative features, it's an important collections to the national, regional and local historical investigation, also available to be consulted in the reading rooms of the Ducal Palace

The Marble Museum
The Marble's capital is the title that fits perfectly to this town. In this region the quarrying of this stone is so rich and its application so large that we can observe it in the urban architecture such as houses and palaces, churches and convents, in fountains and monuments we can find through out this noble village. These are the reasons why every year the famous International Marble's Fair takes place in this town.

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