Almeida's name means The Plateau in Arabic (Al Ma'ida). The town overlooks the Cõa river in the Beira Alta region 45 kilometres (28 mi) northeast of Guarda and close to the border with Portugal's old adversary – Spain. Humans have taken advantage of its prime strategical location since antiquity. It wasn't until the invention of gunpowder and cannonballs did the present town take its distinctive appearance. Essentially the whole town resides within 2500 meters of Vauban defence walls and from the air resembles a twelve pointed star.
| Portas de São Francisco
The original medieval ramparts were destroyed by Spain's Phillip IV's troops during the War of Restoration. Their replacements were designed in 1641 by Antoine Deville following the style first pioneered by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban to repel cannonballs. A walk around the 17th-century defences brings the scale of the fortifications to home. Although today Almeida is a quiet border town surrounded by charming countryside its past has been fraught with battles and conflict.
The main access into Almeida is through the Portas de São Francisco, a pair of gates traversing over a dry moat and through a tunnel. Inside the tunnel, there is a 17th-century bunker which now serves as a small museum dedicated to Military Architecture that first opened on the 2nd April 2008.
| Igreja Matriz
The interior of the town is a warren of narrow cobbled streets lined with granite houses interspersed with quaint small squares. In the Praça do Liberdade you will find the old town hall. Further in is the remains of the old castle. It was blown to smithereens during the French siege of 1810. The castle's ammunition battery was hit by artillery. Beyond the castle and located in one of the "star points" of the defensive walls is the Picadeiro D'el Rey. Once an artillery workshop, it was restored after a period of abandonment in the 20th century into a horse training pen.
During the last weekend of August, the town stages a re-enactment of the Siege of Almeida. The festival lasts for three days. Following the mock battles, the public socialises with soldiers from Portugal, France, Spain, and the UK. It's worth watching and participating.
Standing on the site of the former Nossa Senhora do Loreto convent, the church was built in the early 16th century. During its existence, it's also served as a military barracks and a hospital. It had to be restored in 1810 after the castle explosion. 40° 43' 31.1" N | 06° 54' 16.7" W.
To the left, as you enter through the Portas de São Francisco gates you'll discover the long infantry barracks. To the right are some attractive public gardens which lead you past the forestation to the "Casamatas" opposite. This disused underground storage area has a capacity for five thousand men and supplies, look for the model guard at the entrance. This chamber was designed to protect the troops during long sieges and has its own water supply, garbage chute, ventilation, sleeping quarters, secret escape passages and ammunitions battery. The Almeida History and Military Museum is housed here comprising of 20 rooms and corridors. It is an interactive multimedia space that recreates Portuguese History from the Medieval Age to contemporary times with a special focus on the Peninsular Wars, invasion and the siege of Almeida.
Weekdays: 09h00 – 12h00/14h00 – 17h30, Weekends: 10h00 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30
Adult: €3.00, Concessionary: €2.25,
Rua da Muralha, 6350–123 Almeida, Portugal.
40° 43' 35.5" N | 06° 54' 14.7" W | +351 271 571 229 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
| Military Museum
| Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo
Twenty-One Kilometres (13 miles) north of Almeida is Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, where another medieval fortified village sits 820 metres above sea level. It overlooks over the plateau facing eastwards to Spain and northwards to the Douro Valley. It's believed the settlement was founded by Alfonso IX of León and gifted to Count Rodrigo Gonzalez de Girón, from where Castelo Rodrigo takes its name. Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo lies within lands that were under dispute following the expulsion of the Moors between the emerging kingdoms of León and Portugal. Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo came into Portuguese hands with the Treaty of Alcanices, signed in 1297 by D. Dinis. During later wars, such as the dynastic crisis of 1383-1385 and the Restoration war, allegiances swung back and forth. The village still bears scars of this turbulent time, such as the castle ruins destroyed by an angry mob when Spanish rule came to an end.
Today within its medieval ramparts old houses can be found. Here too, you can see narrow cobbled streets (largely pedestrianised), a clock tower, a cistern and a Manueline Pelourinho. Another point of interest is the 12th century Igreja do Reclamador church and its statue of St James. Castelo Rodrigo stands on a former route taken by pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela. On the opposite peak to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo is the Serra da Marofa. Standing on the summit is a massive replica of Christ the King statue.
Twenty Kilometres south of Almeida is another medieval fortified town. Castelo de Mendo has a long history defending the Riba-Côa border, and today it retains its double ring of defensive walls. The walls divide Castelo de Mendo into two sections, the Citadel and Barbican. The oval citadel is the old town where there are many well preserved medieval features. Points of interest are the Igreja de S. Pedro church, the granite stone houses, the 18th century Pelourinho, the 17th century Igreja de S. Vicente Church and the old town hall.
The newer town, known as Arrabalde de S. Pedro, is protected by a Dionysian wall that once boasted eight towers. They were partially destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. Its five entrance gates survived and still exist. Castelo Mendo's charter granted and regulated the ﬁrst free fair in Portugal. It was held three times a year, at Easter, the feast of St. John the Baptist and feast of St. Michael and lasted eight days.
| Castelo Mendo
Ideally located just outside the town walls with free parking and easy road access to the surrounding area and historical villages. All rooms in this guesthouse are ensuite and come with air-conditioning, a sofa and free WiFi. The on-site restaurant offers a varied menu with some traditional local dishes and includes a terraced seating area.
Bairro de S. Pedro, 6350-210 Almeida.
40º 43" 11.8' N | 06º 54" 05.3' W | +351 271 571 769 | email@example.com
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This wonderful three bedroom country house offers is located in Almeida and has a full range of amenities, including a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 2 bathrooms with a bidet. Guests also benefit from complimentary WiFi, bike hire and private parking available on site. There is a garden with a barbecue at this property. Guests can go hiking nearby.
EM604 9 Lugar do Chafariz, 6350-234 Almeida, Portugal
40° 43' 46.4" N | 06° 53' 42.9" W | +351 917 591 127
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Casa do Ti Messias is situated in Almeida and offers a terrace, a living room and a fully equipped kitchen. This holiday home features a bathroom with a bidet and a shower. A flat-screen TV with cable channels is featured. If you would like to discover the area, cycling, fishing and hiking are possible in the surroundings.
Casa do Ti Messias Rua Afonso de Albuquerque,5, 6350-104 Almeida, Portugal .
40° 43' 29.9" N | 06° 54' 19.3" W | +351 919 415 824
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Good old fashion welcoming service and friendly homely atmosphere. The food is local delicacies cooked to perfection, at surprisingly agreeable prices. The portions are typically large so bring an appetite or if your eyes are not bigger than your belly ask for a "meia dose", a half portion.
Monday - Saturday: 09h00 - 00h00, Sunday: CLOSED
Largo do Olmo, 6350 091, Malpartida, Almeida,, Portugal | 40º 45" 34.1' N | 06º 52" 09.3' W
+351 271 574 344
153 miles (247km) south east of Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport PORTO.
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
From Porto Follow A1 and A25 to N324 in Guarda. Take the exit 32 from A25. Then follow the N324 and N340 to R. Serpa Pinto in Almeida. Latitude - 39º 32' 50.7" | Longitude - 08º 58' 55.7"
GET A GREAT DEAL ON CAR HIRE:
The nearest train station is Vilar Formoso where its possible to take a bus to Almeida:
• Linha do Oeste
Rede Expressos run regular services to Almeida from Lisbon Sete Rios coach station and takes about two hours.Website