Viseu has been occupied for aeons and was the centre of Lusitanian resistance against the invading Romans. Viseu has remained a centre of importance ever since and vestiges of the succeeding periods remains scattered across this small city. A fine historic quarter (Centro Historico) with narrow cobbled streets, flights of steps and atmospheric squares remain in place when most of the original medieval ramparts have been removed. One survivor is the Porta do Soar de Cima city gate that dates from the 15th-century. There are a number of fine Renaissance and Baroque villas and palaces also waiting for your discovery.
The beating heart of Viseum is the tree-lined Praça da Rebública, better known as Rossio and makes a great place to start your visit and get your bearings. Dominating the western side of the square is the city hall (Câmara Municipal) constructed in 1887. Inside there's a wrought iron chandelier designed by Arnaldo Malho, the woodwork by Master António Loureiro decorates the Main Hall, coloured tiles decorate the staircase and ceiling paintings by Viseu painter José de Almeida e Silva.
In the northeast corner of Rossio is the Painel de Azulejos. This massive azulejo mural depicts scenes of country life and was made by Mestre Joaquim Lopes in 1931. On the southern side, a staircase leads up to the 18th-century, baroque Igreja dos Terceiros de São Francisco (Church of the Brotherhood of St. Francis). Behind the church is a small wooded park. The square also has a good kiosk with plenty of outdoor seating. It's an ideal location for soaking up the atmosphere.
The best route to the Cathedral at the top of the town is along the largely pedestrianised Rua Direita. Two thousand years ago it was the main Roman road through the city, known as Cardus Maximus. During medieval times it was the main street for commerce and was known as Rua das Tendas. It acquired its current name during the 15th-Century when it linked two city gates; São José, which no longer exists, and Cavaleiros Gate. Rua Direita has retained its role as the main shopping artery in Viseu and the 500m course is still lined with fine buildings from the 16th to 18th century.
The jewel in Viseus crown is the impressive Romanesque and Gothic Sé (Cathedral), one of the finest in Portugal. Its foundations sit on granite boulders that can be seen at the rear. It was first constructed in the 12th Century at the behest of King Afonso Henriques next to an ancient Swabian-Visigoth temple. In a niche above the main portal stands a statue of St Theotonius, the city's patron saint. Occupying the five other niches are the four evangelists and Our Lady of the Assumption. The façade is flanked by two bell towers. One was dates from mediaeval times and the
other is a 17th Century reconstruction.
Successive remodelling over the centuries is most evident inside with the mixture of architectural styles. The interior was transformed in the 16th Century, with the reconstruction of the vaulting, that is Manueline and supported by Gothic pillars. Above the monumental Baroque high altar is a 14th-century figure of the Virgin. You can find a fine collection of sacred art exhibited in the chapterhouse. The lower level of the cloisters is Renaissance in style and the gallery in the upper story was added in the 17th Century.
The Cathedral is located on the Adro da Sé square which is also home to stunning Misericordia Church with its broad white Rococo facade. From the square, there are impressive views of the surrounding countryside.
Friday - Wednesday: 08h00 – 12h00/14h00 – 19h00, Thursdays: CLOSED
Adro da Sé, 3500-195 Viseu, Portugal. | 40° 39' 35.5" N | 07° 54' 39.9" W
The square in front of the Cathedral is full of interesting places and one of the most iconic squares in Portugal. In the centre is Viseu's distinctive pillory (Pelourinho).
In stark contrast, opposite the Cathedral is the whitewashed Rococo façade of the beautiful Igreja da Misericórdia. A flight of steps guides the visitor up from the Adro da Sé to a balcony and the richly decorated main door. Its windows are decorated with curvaceous pediments and balustrades. The frontage is flanked by two bell towers. The interior consist of a single nave and a chapel, separated by a crossing arch. An 18th-century statue of Our Lady of Mercy, the church's patron, stands above the main altar.
Adro da Sé, 3500-069 Viseu, Portugal. | 40° 39' 36.1" N | 07° 54' 41.8" W
Adjoining the Cathedral is a Renaissance palace that since 1916 has housed the Grão Vasco Museum. The famous Portuguese painter Vasco Fernandes, known as Grao-Vasco (d. 1542) was born and studied art in Viseu. As you would expect the museum has a number of Grao-Vasco's work including a set of retable paintings collected from religious establishments across the region.
There are also works by painters such as Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro, José Malhoa, Alfredo Keil, Soares dos Reis, Silva Porto, António Ramalho and Sousa Lopes. Other disciplines are represented here too such as porcelain, furniture, sculpture, jewellery and numismatic pieces.
Tuesday: 14h00 - 17h30, Wednesday – Sunday: 10h00 - 18h00, Monday: CLOSED
Paço dos Três Escalões, Adro da Sé - 3500-195 Viseu, Portugal. | 40° 39' 36.8" N | 07° 54' 40.4" W
+351 232 422 049 | email@example.com | Website
Commencing in 2009 this fun method of reaching the Cathedral square (Adro da Sé) takes only two minutes to climb 400 metres to the top. With a capacity of 50 people, including wheelchair users, the funicular is just one of new initiatives Viseu council has taken to encourage more tourists.
Daily: 08h30 - 20h00 | Largo da Feira de São Mateus to Adro da Sé
Fifteen kilometres (9 mi) southeast of Viseu close to the village of Mangualde is a fine relic from the Neolithic period, the Anta da Cunha Baixa, also known as Casa da Orca de Cunha Baixa. Sitting alone in a field this dolmen is thought to be about 5000 years old. It's commonly believed such monuments were used solely for funerary purposes and are known as a gallery grave (Allée Couverte), yet new research has associated astrological alignments with similar dolmens. The chamber is three metres wide, just over three metres wide and about the same tall. It is topped by a large capstone resting on three of the nine wall stones of the chamber. There are traces of carvings on the granite uprights of the inner chamber. The entrance corridor is over seven metres long and consists of 16 boulders. The whole complex has a southeast orientation.
Excavations and study of the site have been ongoing since the late 19th Century and in the 1950s three flint blades and a polished stone axe 12.8cm long were unearthed. Research has revealed it was used for thousands of years, well into the Bronze Age. Anta da Cunha Baixa was fully restored in 1987, stones we re-laid and some even stapled together for prosperity. It is now classified as a national monument. The site is easily reached by following the N232 towards Gouveia and then following the designated signs. On-site there is a car park and a picnic area across a footbridge from the publicly accessed site.
Cunha Baixa, Portugal. | 40° 34' 11.9" N | 07° 46' 15.4"W
The Linha do Dão railway line ran between Santa Comba Dão and Viseu until it closed in 1988. In 2011 the 49km (30mi) route was rejuvenated as a cycle/footpath. It’s possible to access the trail at various points along the way, including at several old stations that once served villages along its route. Ecopista do Dão is Portugal's longest traffic-free track and traverses some of the beautiful landscapes imaginable. The southern end of the route starts close to the Santa Comba Dão train station, on the Linha da Beira Alta railway line Timetable, with services from Guarda and Coimbra, once alighted follow the brown signs for the Ecopista do Dão. For the first 16km (10mi) after Santa Comba Dão, the route follows the course of the Dão river until just after Tondela. The path then passes a forested landscape with views of mountains and valleys, vineyards, farmland and small villages. The gradients remain level, throughout the whole route there are no steep climbs. The path is paved with coloured asphalt, blue in the district of Santa Comba Dão, green in Tondela and red in Viseu. There are cafés at the former train stations of Figuieró ( 40° 40' 46.3" N | 08° 00' 58.5" W) and Farminhão ( 40° 36' 42.4" N | 08° 00' 42.2" W).
The grim exterior of this guesthouse is deceiving for inside are modern comfortable rooms, all with laminate floors, fully fitted bathrooms, cable TV, soundproofing, free WiFi, heating and air conditioning. Alojamento Dom Dinis is pet friendly and there's no extra charge for bringing your four-legged friend. The breakfast is included and substantial. There's private parking available at the rear.
Rua Do Hospital, 3500-161 Viseu, Portugal. | 40° 39' 16.7" N | 07° 54' 45.9" W
Hotel Grão Vasco is situated in a large garden with an oval-shaped swimming pool and well-tended hedges. The restaurant has large windows and overlooks the green lawn. Rooms at Grão Vasco are air-conditioned and offer a satellite TV and a private bathroom with a bath and shower. Guests can enjoy the sun on the outdoor terrace or relax under a parasol by the swimming pool. The Fontelo Forest Park, 650 yards away, offers a quiet setting for an afternoon walk.
The Grão Vasco restaurant serves a range of regional dishes in a traditional décor with beamed ceilings. Room service is available as well. The Hotel Grão Vasco offers free parking upon availability. Guests are welcome to enjoy swimming in the indoor pool or taking in a workout at the gym. Hotel Grão Vasco is situated in the very centre of Viseu, just next to Rossio where the Town Hall is. Viseu Cathedral is a seven-minute walk away.
Rua Gaspar Barreiros, 3510-032 Viseu, Portugal. | 40° 39' 22.1"N | 07° 54' 48.4" W
Set in Viseu, a few steps from Viseu Cathedral and 200 yards from Viseu Misericordia Church, Casa da Avó Zirinha offers air-conditioned accommodation with a patio and free WiFi. Offering private parking.
The holiday home features three bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and three bathrooms with a bidet. Towels and bed linen are provided. Casa da Avó Zirinha has a terrace. A car rental service is available at the accommodation. Museu de Grao Vasco is 200 yards from Casa da Avó Zirinha.
Rua Silva Gaio, 3500-203 Viseu, Portugal.
40° 39' 37.9" N | 07° 54' 43.4" W
Friendly and attentive staff await you with knowledgeable recommendations that never fail to satisfy. This little famiily restaurant will always show you plenty of attention no matter how busy they are. None of the courses will disappoint as they will all be excellent, highlights being their entree platter, Arroz de Carqueja, pork dishes and homemade desserts.
Sunday & Tuesday: 19h00 – 00h00, Monday: CLOSED, Wednesday – Saturday: 12h30 – 14h30/19h00 – 00h00
Rua Santa Amelia N 18, Viseu 3515-141 Portugal.
40° 40' 33.9" N | 07° 55' 18.4" W
+351 934 597 584 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Compact yet perfectly formed this intimate and relaxed restaurant serves good local fare at good prices. A delicious selection of Portuguese 'tapas' dishes are also found on the menu. Vegans and vegetarians are catered for.
Sunday: 12h00 - 15h00, Tuesday – Friday: 19h00 – 23h00, Saturday: 12h00 – 15h00/19h00 – 23h00, Monday: CLOSED
Largo Mouzinho de Albuquerque 81 Near to teatro Viriato, Viseu 3500-160 Portugal. | 40° 39' 38.9" N | 07° 54' 30.8" W
+351 967 783 994
The belly-busting Francesinha sandwich is more associated with Porto but is well at home in Viseu. There's a number of variations to this classic dish on the menu including a vegetarian option. Francesinha É Prá Sé is an excellent option if you wanted a good satisfying meal without any bells or whistles. Theres also a great selection of beers available too.
Daily: 09h00 - 23h00
4 Rua Silva Gaio, 3500-203, Viseu.
40° 39' 34.9" N | 07° 54' 46.1" W
+351 963 937 473 | email@example.com
Trancoso is 139km (86.1mi) Southeast of Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport PORTO.
GET A GREAT DEAL ON YOUR FLIGHT HERE:
Only Just over one and a half hours from Porto via the A1 and A25
Latitude - 40° 39' 29.8" N Longitude - 07° 54' 43.7" W
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Rede Expressos run services to Viseu from Porto. Website