The town of Belmonte in Cova da Beira commands a broad view of the eastern slopes of the Serra da Estrela mountains and fully justiﬁes its name. Tradition has it that the name Belmonte comes from its location (beautiful hill). Some say, however, that it comes from 'belli monte', the hill of war. A sunny place, with good people, endless vistas and centuries-old history.
A nossa história o seu tempo
A história de Belmonte surge, normalmente, associada à história dos Cabrais e dos Judeus. Foi terra natal de Pedro Álvares Cabral, o navegador, que no ano de 1500 comandou a segunda armada à India, durante a qual se descobriu oficialmente o Brasil.
A presença humana no atual concelho de Belmonte está comprovada desde as épocas mais remotas. A Anta de Caria, os Castros de Caria e da Chandeirinha certificam a longevidade da fixação na pré e proto-história. A presença romana é também evidente pelos testemunhos da Torre Centum Cellas ou pela Villa da Quinta da Fórnea, pontos de passagem da via que ligava Mérida à Guarda.
Na Idade Média Belmonte surge-nos, primeiramente, ligado à história do concelho da Covilhã, concretamente, no foral concedido em 1186 por D. Sancho I. Mas, em 1199, de acordo com a sua política de povoamento e reforço da defesa fronteiriça, o mesmo rei concedeu foral a Belmonte ficando esta até 1385 sob jurisdição da Covilhã.
No século XIII, a vila encontrava-se já em franco desenvolvimento justificando a existência de duas Igrejas - a de São Tiago e de Santa Maria (perto do velho cemitério, junto ao Castelo) e de uma Sinagoga.
Embora pertencendo à Coroa, o Castelo de Belmonte era administrado por um alcaide local e já desde 1398 que este cargo estava ligado aos Cabrais.
O primeiro alcaide foi Luís Alvares Cabral. Fernão Cabral, pai de Pedro Alvares Cabral, foi o primeiro alcaide-mor. Com ele se iniciou, no século XV, a época de maior destaque do Castelo e de Belmonte. Em 1510 D. Manuel I concedeu a Belmonte nova carta de foral. Nessa altura a comunidade de Belmonte era essencialmente rural, dependente da pecuária e da agricultura. A presença de Judeus favoreceu também a existência de algum comércio.
Na primeira metade do século XVI o Concelho de Belmonte tinha "de termo duas léguas em longo e uma de largura" sendo a vila que na comarca de Castelo Branco tinha a maior densidade populacional em vizinhos a seguir à Atalaia. Em meados do século XVIII a população de Belmonte contava já com cerca de 1416 habitantes.
Em 1811 estava judicialmente anexa a Sortelha (que tinha Juiz de Fora) na Comarca, Provedoria e Diocese de Castelo Branco. E, em 1842 pertencia ao Distrito Administrativo da Guarda.
Com a reforma administrativa de 1855, o Concelho de Belmonte foi alargado pela incorporação de Caria.
Mas a 7 de Dezembro de 1895 este concelho foi extinto, tendo as suas freguesias sido anexadas à Covilhã. Apenas três anos depois foi restaurado o Concelho de Belmonte.
What to see
Bet Eliahu Synagogue
Near the castle is the synagogue, a modern building designed by architect Neves Dias. It was opened in 1996, 500 years after King Manuel I’s edict expelling the Jews from Portugal. The temple faces Jerusalem and displays the Menorah on the door and bars and the Star of David on the gates. Belmonte most likely had a synagogue in the 13th century. There are no traces of it but its existence is proven by a stone in the Jewish Museum.
King Afonso III authorised (Guimarães, 3/4/1266) Bishop Egas Fafes to build a tower can castle in Belmonte, which already had a defence system. On 20/9/1446 King Afonso V gave the castle to Fernão Cabral to build his home. In the west wall we can still see the panoramic windows and a Manueline window, conforming the adaptation of the castle to a residence rather than just a castle. In the late 17th century, a violent fire destroyed the west wing of the palace, after which it was abandoned and the family moved to what we suppose was Casa dos Condes, the current Discoveries Museum. There are signs that in the 17th century, Belmonte Castle was once again used for military purposes. Bulwarks were built, as mentioned by Father Luís Cardoso in 1751. These bulwarks were not doubt build because of the Restoration War, as was the case of Casa da Torre in Caria, where the 17th century bulwarks have survived. The castle covers an area of around 2,265 m2 and is an irregular oval shape with two gates. Its donjon is attached to the outside at the south-west corner and there is another building attached near the main gate to the south, from the 18th or 19th century. As mentioned above, we can see traces on the west wall of the Cabral family’s conversion of the castle into a manor. There is a well inside. The building was declared a National Monument by Decree on 15 October 1927. It was taken over by IPPAR in 1992 and an amphitheatre was built inside for performances. Archaeological prospecting was done inside the castle from 1992 to 1994, when proof of Roman occupation and the donjon was investigated in 1994 and 1995. The castle is open to the public and the donjon is a now a museum with archaeological pieces from the excavations.
Former Town Hall
The former Town Hall is in Largo do Pelourinho and has been documented since the 15th century. It is a simple rectangular building with horizontal divisions separated by the tower. In the 19th century, during the French invasions, Junot had the stone coats of arms destroyed because Belmonte had not surrendered.
The community that for centuries resisted the expulsion edicts of the Catholic Monarchs, the order to convert or leave from King Manuel I and the watchful eye of the Inquisition and its court, deserves to be remembered. Pieces from the Middle Ages to the 20th century used by Jews and New Christians in their worship or everyday lives are on display in this museum.
The Centum Cellas Tower in Colmeal da Torre is perhaps the most enigmatic building in the municipality. Its purpose has been the subject of different interpretations over the years: temple, prison, praetorium of a Roman encampment, an inn, a Roman villa... According to studies after the excavations in the 1990s, it was thought to be a 1st century Roman villa belonging to Lucius Caecilius and his descendent who were farmers and tin miners. The tower had two storeys. There area also traces of other buildings.
Where to eat
Casa do Castelo
On the slope of Belmonte Castle, protected by the memory of Cabral, an old distillery of great cultural and aesthetic value has been converted into the most charming place in Cova da Beira. From its well-tended surroundings to the majestic landscape around the Zêzere Valley and the highest mountain in mainland Portugal, you feel and breathe in the calm and beauty of the country’s heart, which beats even faster in this house. A strong pulse that never stops or lingers over its brilliant past but finds life in a future of great quality, well worth visiting and enjoying.
Where to sleep
Casa do Comendador
House-museum in the heart of Serra da Estrela, where one can get a sense of the history of the Village of Manteigas and the Family of Commander Francisco Esteves. It comes equipped with 4 rooms and 2 suites, with all the comforts to make your stay unforgettable and to visit the local history.
Casa Miriam is located in Belmonte, one of Portugal’s historical villages and is a rustic-style holiday home with one bedroom. We accept pets and there is cable internet access. All guest accommodation has amenities for ensuring a feeling of comfort. Your host will guarantee that there is a range of recreational activities so that you have plenty to do during your stay.
Para os visitantes que desejam desfrutar das vistas e da sonoridade de Belmonte, Casa Abraão é a escolha correta. A partir daqui, hóspedes podem desfrutar do fácil acesso a tudo o que a animada cidade oferece. Com sua localização conveniente, o hotel oferece acesso fácil para os destinos imperdível da cidade. Tire vantagem de uma variedade de serviços e cortesias nesta casa de Belmonte. Para mencionar algumas das facilidades da casa, há parque de estacionamento, wi-fi nos espaços públicos, animais permitidos. Todas as acomodações dos hóspedes dispõem de amenidas para assegurar uma inigualável sensação de conforto. Além disso, o anfitrião de ofertas recreativas da casa garante que você tenha muita coisa para fazer durante sua estadia.
Belmonte Sinai Hotel
The hotel offers 27 rooms, including 2 family suites and 1 room adapted to clients with disabilities. Belmonte Sinai Hotel is equipped with 7 rooms with a double bed and 20 twin rooms (with two beds). The room comes with air conditioning, an electronic security lock, cable television, a work table with a phone, and free internet. It is possible to add an extra bed in all the rooms. Bathroom equipped with a shower, hair dryer, and amenities. Belmonte Sinai Hotel is located in the center of the Belmonte village, within walking distance of a number of museums (Jewish Museum, Museum of the Discoveries, Olive Oil Museum, and Zêzere Eco-Museum) and the most historically interesting landmarks, such as the Castle, Santiago Church, and the Synagogue (BET ELIAHU).
Quinta da Ribeira
Located 3 km east from Historical Village of Belmonte, Quinta da Ribeira is set in the countryside, featuring exposed stone walls and a unique rustic feel. It offers a seasonal surface pool, barbecue facilities and a children’s playground. Quinta da Ribeira includes a double room with private bathroom and a studio with a dining area and a kitchenette equipped with a small refrigerator, a microwave and kitchenware. Both accommodations have heating, a flat-screen TV and views of the garden. The property features an ample lounge area with fireplace and air conditioning, a reading area, billiards, board games, satellite TV and WiFi. This lounge have direct connection with the interior patio where guests can relax. Within a 5-minute drive, guests will find various traditional local restaurants. Activities in the area include hiking and cycling. The monumental Serra da Estrela is 15 km away and the cities of Guarda and Covilhã are 20 km away. Belmonte features plenty of unique museums and other places with great historical, cultural and religious interest.
Plan your trip
Momentos bem passados
Encontre facilmente o que procura em Belmonte. Utilize o nosso planeador de viagens e não perca tempo. Embarque nesta viagem pela História.