The 13th Century Castle that dominates the town has been greatly restored since its semi-destruction in 1689 when the stored gun-powder exploded.
The fortification of the town was improved originally by Sancho II, then Afonso III, and finally Dinis I as a special location for his beloved Queen Isabel of Aragon. It was here that in 1336 the saintly Queen succumbed to ill health and died. In 1384 the Portuguese General Nuno Álvares Pereira defeated the Castilian forces at the Battle of "Atoleiros" at Fronteira, a nearby town.
The strong fortification of the town of Estremoz acted as a strategic deterrent in the War of Independence (1640-1648), between the Spanish King Philip II and the Duke of Bragança João IV. Later in the "War of the Two Brothers" (1832-1834), the town also played another influencing role when Dom Miguel was defeated in his claim for the throne by his brother Pedro IV who wished to introduce a more Liberal regime.
The high tower named Torre das Três Coroas is the dominate feature of this town. Reaching to the height of 27 metres and was initially constructed in 1258 and subsequently improved.
Rising from above the castle walls it is named after the period in which it was built. Also, today within the walls is a fine Pousada built on the ruins of the old Palace named and named after the Queen Dona Isabel de Aragon.
A Chapel that is also aptly named after this kindly Queen, records the story of her life in 18th Century tiles and in particular the “Miracle of the Roses”.
The fable tells that when carrying money for the poor hidden in her apron the King stopped her and upon his request she opened the apron to reveal only some roses.
In the Town Square there is the remains of a fine palace that was once belonged to Dom Dinis. The Municipal Museum has on display a collection of archaeological finds and also an unique collection of 17th and 18th Century painted clay figures.
In the same square is a further impressive palace from the same period that has been taken over as the Town Hall building.
Close by is the 17th Century Palácio da Touca housing some fine tiles from the same period. Within the town there are a few other churches and buildings dating from the 15th Century.
This town is still mainly known today for its handcrafted small charming clay figurines and lies on the old main road to Spain and being conveniently half way between Évora and Elvas.
Just to the south of the town there is the Church of Nossa Senhora dos Mártires containing some beautiful religious scenes in 18th Century tiles. To the north is the interesting town of Pavia whose origins are lost in history. One of its features in a squares stands a large “dolman” and to it is attached a small chapel that was probably built in the 16th Century.
The town takes its name after an Italian family that immigrated to Portugal in the 13th Century. Across to the northeast is the small charming town of Monteforte and here are the ruins of a Roman villa at Torre de Palma.
To the southeast of Estremoz are the towns of Borba and Vila Viçosa. The first town was retaken from the Moors in 1217 and is best known now for its good Alentejo regional wine. However, its history is quite bloody especially in 1662 when occupied by the troops led by Dom João de Áustria. Nearby in the plains of Monte Claros this invading army was soundly defeated by the Conde de Marialva.
The town Vila Viçosa is mainly famous as a result of becoming in earlier times the favourite home of the House of the Duques de Bragança. Originally Dom Jaime began the Palácio de Paço Real in 1501, but when the 8th Duke became the King many of its interior riches were removed to his palace in Lisbon.
Guided tours of the Palace to view the royal apartments can be taken and some are remain the same as on that tragic day that Dom Carlos was assassinated in 1908 riding in his coach through Lisbon. Particularly fascinating is the kitchen and its vast collection of 700 polished copper utensils used in cooking to feed hundreds at each meal.
There are a number of other interesting buildings in the town including the 14th Century Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição with a Gothic image of the Virgin Mary. In 1646 the King, Dom João IV, impulsively placed his crown on her head and named her the patron saint of all Portugal. From that day no monarch of Portugal has ever worn a crown on his own head.
The Convento das Chagas de Cristo which lies besides the Palace is now a comfortable and attractive Pousada. Also, to be found in this town is a small interesting museum devoted to marble. On show are the many different types of stone, how they are worked and their final destinations around the world.
Slightly further south is the town of Alandroal, a more recently established fortified town from the 14th Century. The 16th Century Erminda de São Bento was built nearby by the inhabitants to record their gratitude in being saved in answer to their prayers from the various plagues in Europe that somehow always seem to avoid the town.
Again, further to the south is the town of Redondo set in the heart of the its own wine district. This area has many megalithic monuments indicating its popularity during the Neolithic period. There is still evidence left of its original castle built by Dom Dinis in the 14th Century. To the southwest is the small ancient Roman town of Evoramonte.
The present castle has been rebuilt but its origin dates back to the 13th Century. Unfortunately, the centre piece that crowns the castle which is the 16th Century Torre de Menagem, has been re-faced with cement and thus removing much of its charm when seen from a close distance.
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