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.
Our history your time
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
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.
Caminhos Santiago (Ways of St. James)
St. James’s Day is celebrated on July 25. The celebration of this day cannot be ignored in Belmonte, either. We recall that there are two ways to Santiago de Compostela in this municipality. The “Via da Estrela”, from Cáceres, and the “Nascente”, laid out from Évora.
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival, marks the freeing and purification of the Temple in Jerusalem and the revolt against the Seleucids led by Matatias Maccabee and his five sons, as described in the Old Testament. “After the Temple was freed, it was found that there was only enough olive oil to keep the eternal flame burning for one more day. But the flame burned for eight days, the time needed to make and consecrate more olive oil for the Temple.” The feast is marked “by a family atmosphere and great joy, and during it, a candlestick of nine branches is used, with one candle being lit each day in remembrance of the eight days the flame burned miraculously. The ninth branch of the candlestick, placed in the centre and taller than the others, is the shamash, the candle used to light the others.”
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.
Helana – Restaurante
Located in the old part of Idanha-a-Nova, in the former soft drink factory Refrigerantes Raiana from the 1950s, we find this elegant place where comfort and wellbeing have not been forgotten. With carefully selected, preferably local ingredients, the cuisine intensifies the idea of gourmet culture, though pizzas and pastas also feature largely. Start by reading a cookery book and enjoy the reading corner so that you can combine theory and practice.
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).
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.
What to do
TRY PORTUGAL – Adventure, Nature & Culture
TRY PORTUGAL promotes personalized programs and experiences of active and cultural tourism, exploring the Natural, Historical and Cultural heritage of the country. All programs in autonomy or with guides are created to guarantee experiences of gastronomy & wines, culture & traditions. We highlight the interior regions that are still unknown to most travelers, through thematic vacation programs, the provision of tourist services, and the organization of sports & cultural events. Services: Thematic tours, active tourism programs, guided tours, organization of cultural and sporting events. Our tours are designed to include one or more of the following activities that are available in the region: Walking & Hiking - Mountain & Road Cycling - Water trails activities - Air activities- Horseback Riding – Rock Climbing – Wellness & Yoga Retreats - Ecotourism - Geo-tourism - Cultural & Historical Tourism - Creative Residences - Impact Tourism & Volunteering COME TRY PORTUGAL!
Adventure and nature trips
We are a registered tour operating company and we base our activity on the values of legal compliance, nature protection and sustainability. We operate according to the Portuguese legislation and we hold a special accreditation from the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests allowing us to drive inside Nature Parks and other protected areas (where permitted)- We are members of the Natural.pt brand (www.natural.pt), reserved for companies who adhere to the programme. Following the recent pandemic we got our Clean & Safe seal from the Tourism Authority signifying our compliance with the official health requirements for the prevention and control of infections. Our trips are much more than just going from A to B and we distinguish ourselves for having a higher purpose: the knowledge and promotion of the historical, cultural and environmental heritage of Portugal, so that in the end our guests will have lots of stories to tell. In each new journey through some of the most beautiful and remotest places in mainland Portugal, we discover a unique, authentic and truly surprising country with a sense of adventure and discovery that enriches us as human beings. Our offer is based on a personalised service with tailor-made trips meeting the personal interests of our guests. We are constantly exploring and spending countless days on the ground in contact with the local people and organisations in search for the best places of interest and the best routes. As a result of this research, we have acquired a deep knowledge of the whole country which allows us to give our guests a renewed level of novelty and differentiation in each event. During our events we privilege the contact with nature in a legal and responsible manner, with the aim to reduce the impact of our passage, by working with official entities and other environmental organisations. Every year we plant many autoctonous trees in an effort to make Dream Overland a carbon-neutral company, an action that our customers can support and partake in. With our trips we contribute to the social cohesion and economic sustainability of local communities, through the knowledge and promotion of their traditions, handicrafts, produce and local heritage.
Beltour – Turismo e Eventos
Portugal A2Z Walking & Biking
Powered since 2006 by your passion for travel, Portugal A2Z Walking & Biking was created to offer you authentic experiences and unforgettable memories in the most exclusive places in Portugal, taking you to the most historic places and wild landscapes. The perfect example of this is our holidays in the Historical Villages. Each one more surprising than the one before, prepare to cross mesmerizing landscapes, going through some of the most impressive Portuguese natural regions like the Côa Valley, with their cave paintings, the Estrela Mountain Range, with the highest peak in continental Portugal, or Faia Brava, the first private conservation area in Portugal. And at the end of each day, explore another village, each with a different story to discover, between castles and walls, between taverns and gourmet restaurants, between centuries-old traditions and the latest inspirations. Dare yourself to wear the shoes of the great conquerors who fought for the oldest European border while restoring your body and mind with pure air and breathtaking views.