One of the greatest pleasures of Serpa is simply strolling around the ancient meandering streets of the old town contained within medieval walls and absorbing its sleepy atmosphere. In the late 13th century, soon after the border with Castile had finally been established, Serpa was awarded its first charter and took on the role of a frontier town. It was throughout this period, during the reign of King Dinis, that the Castle was strengthened and the perimeter ramparts were built. Originally these formidable walls contained five entry gates, of which only two now remain, the Moura and Beja Gates.
The Palace of the Counts of Ficalho is unusually built into the town walls. The palace was built by order D. Francisco de Melo, Captain-General of Serpa in the late sixteenth century. The Melo family for several generations held the post of Captain-General who lived within the castle's domestic quarters, of which there are still traces. The palace building is a classic example of Mannerist civil architecture. Inside the palace is divided into large rooms, interspersed with galleries. The ground floor, intended mainly for service areas, features a wide staircase that leads to the main floor.
Shortly after its construction, the palace was fitted with its own water system which includes an aqueduct running along the defensive wall and a wheel pump that kept the cisterns full. The property still belongs to the Melo, Counts and Marquises Ficalho who have overseen various stages of restoration over the years, yet much more is yet to be completed. In April 2007 it was classified as a national monument helping to secure its future. The Palácio dos Condes de Ficalho opened to the public in the summer of 2021.
Largo dos Condes de Ficalho, 7830-451, Serpa, Portugal | 37° 56' 40.7" N | 07° 35' 55.6" W
This small square is the heart of Serpa, albeit feeling very sleepy, there are a couple of eateries here and the town hall dominates one side (Câmara Municipal de Serpa).
37° 56' 36.5" N | 07° 35' 50.5" W
It's believed the circular base on which the quadrangular bell tower sits are remnants of a minaret from a mosque that once stood on this spot. The church is a 14th-century construction of Gothic and Mannerist style, located in Largo dos Santos Próculo e Hilarião. The attractive Mannerist door is set off by two columns capped by statues of the saints Peter and Paul. Its façade is topped by a large curved broken pediment. The interior is formed of three naves separated by arches. The altarpiece is an intricate wood carving of seventeenth-century azulejo tiles. This was the pantheon of the Mello family and is the resting place of Guiomar de Melo, who was maid of honour to Emperor Carlos V and nursemaid to Filipe II.
The impressive gothic clock tower opposite the church dates from 1440, making it one of the oldest in Portugal. It's a quadrangular construction topped with battlements and a bell tower.
37° 56' 38.8" N | 07° 35' 52.3" W.
Further up the hill from the Igreja de Santa Maria stands the remains of Serpa castle. The entrance is via a narrow passageway, which is topped by a precariously looking, yet perfectly safe, dislodged piece of wall. It lays there as a reminder of the Castle's turbulent history. The structure that remains here dates from the 13th century that was built over a Moorish castle. However, the first defensive structure that stood here belonged to the Celts in the 4th century. From this vantage point, you can enjoy magnificent vistas over the town and the flat plains beyond. The castle was seriously damaged in 1707, during the Spanish War of Succession, Serpa was besieged for the final time by Spanish troops led by the Duke of Ossuna.
Within the keep, there's a small yet fascinating archaeological museum or "Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Castelo" with has exhibits artefacts from previous inhabitants of the area including Paleolithic, Neolithic, Roman and Moorish artefacts.
Mondays: CLOSED, Tuesdays – Sundays: 09h30 – 12h30/14h30 – 17h30
Largo de São Francisco, 7830 Serpa, Portugal. | 37° 56' 46.9" N | 07° 35' 30.6" W | +351 284 543 487
Take a ten-minute walk outside the town walls, northeast along the Estrada de São Francisco you'll happen across the whitewashed walls of the convent church of Santo António. Originating from the 15th century it's since had successive add-ons including a small cloister and flamboyant 18th-century azulejo glazed tile panels depicting the life of St Francis. Architecturally the convent is a mishmash of styles including Gothic, Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque.
Monday - Friday: 09h00 – 17h00, Weekends: 09h00 – 13h00/14h00 – 17h00
Largo de São Francisco, 7830 Serpa, Portugal.
37° 56' 46.9" N | 07° 35' 30.6" W | +351 284 543 487
Located in the heart of Serpa next to the Church of São Salvador, Residencial Beatriz features a set of added values adapted to the needs of tourism and to their customers demands and their well-being. The family atmosphere, the quality and friendliness of the staff as well as the breakfasts which are served with several traditional Alentejo delicacies, makes Residencial Beatriz a true gem. all rooms are en-suite, have air conditioning, and there's free parking. There's also apartments available of various sizes and discounts for longer stays.
Largo do Salvador 10, 7830-330, Serpa, Portugal.
37º 56" 31.5' N | 07º 35" 44.1' W
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Featuring air-conditioned accommodation with a private pool, garden view and a balcony, Casa do Xão is set in Serpa. This holiday home offers a shared kitchen and free WiFi. The holiday home is fitted with five bedrooms, five bathrooms, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with pool views. A continental breakfast is available every morning at the holiday home. Casa do Xão offers a terrace. Guests can swim in the outdoor swimming pool, relax in the garden, or go hiking.
Rua Fonte de Ortezim, nº 15, 7830-351 Serpa, Portugal.
37° 56' 34.2" N | 07° 35' 39.2" W
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Set in the outskirts of town, the Hotel Pulo do Lobo is in a quiet area. The famed Serpa Castle is a 15-minute walk away. The hotel features accommodation in double and twin rooms. All units include a private bathroom with free toiletries, air conditioning, TV, free WiFi, a wardrobe and a work desk. A daily cleaning service is provided.
For guests wishing to have a taste of the local cuisine, there are several restaurants within 500m of the hotel, most serving traditional Portuguese meals. Breakfast is included in the room rate and is served each morning in the hotel’s breakfast room.
Guests are welcome to relax and take a break in the shared lounge, which features a TV and comfortable sofas. The green Municipal Gardens are a five-minute walk away. The well-known Clock Museum in Serpa is a ten-minute walk away and features permanent exhibits.
Estrada de S.Brás, 9, 7830-324 Serpa, Portugal.
37° 56' 13.5" N | 07° 35' 56.3" W
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Located within the heart of Serpa this establishment has a cafe on the ground floor and the restaurant above it. The menu is extensive yet the quality of each dish doesn't suffer. The emphasis is using quality local produce in simple dishes with fewer ingredients. That said the portions are typically generous as is the warm friendliness of the staff. Popular with locals and family friendly.
Tuesday – Sunday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 22h30, Monday: CLOSSED
6 Praca da Rrepublica, 7830-389 Serpa, Portugal.
37º 56' 36.9" N | 07º 35' 51.7" W | +351 284 544 335
Good old fashioned homely service with portions as large as the welcoming smiles. Alentejano cuisine cooked to perfection at a surprisingly good price. Popular with locals (the best recommendation of all), and the atmosphere within the warm surroundings is jovial.
Daily: 12h00 - 02h00, Thursday: CLOSSED
Praca da Rrepublica 6, 7830-350 Serpa, Portugal.
37º 56' 34.8" N | 07º 35' 47.5" W | +351 284 549 264
Fancy a steak? There's no better choice for miles around. Simple no-fuss atmosphere and good ol' fashioned friendly polite service. Not only are they masters of the grill but also serve sushi, for those who desire a lighter meal.
Monday – Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00, Sunday: 12h00 - 15h00
Rua Dr. Ramon Nonato La Feria, 24, Serpa 7830-370 Portugal.
37° 56' 23.1" N | 07° 35' 43.0" W | +351 284 544 392
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
Évora is ideally serviced the IP2 runs south towards the Algarve, the A6 runs east (towards Spain/west (towards Lisbon).
GET A GREAT DEAL ON CAR HIRE:
Serpa's bus station is south of the of the old town just off the Avenida da Paz.