An ancient town with a marked medieval character, it is made up of two very distinct centres: the old town, which was originally established, consisting of a castle, a church in ruins, and vestiges of medieval urbanism, all of them surrounded by a 12th century wall; and the new town, or Suburb of S. Pedro, protected by a wall built in the reign of King Dinis, with clear Gothic characteristics, and strongly affected by the earthquake of 1755.
Our history your time
The two walled enclosures of Castelo Mendo are of the utmost historical and heritage interest. They testify to the importance given by the Portuguese crown to this town, which was a strategic location against León, at least until the signing of the Alcanizes Treaty on 12th September 1297, as part of the kingdom’s active line of defence, articulated with Sortelha, Vila do Touro and Pinhel. Until then, the border between the kingdoms of León and Portugal was defined by the valley of the Côa River, with Castelo Mendo being located opposite Castelo Bom (Leonese fortress until 1297). It functioned as the guardian of one of the passages of the Côa, known as the São Miguel Gate, a ford with ancestral roots. The origins of this Historical Village are also ancient, as some traces of a possible Iron Age settlement are preserved here, to which the two berrões (or verracos – stone monuments) that protect its main entrance must belong. These two zoomorphic statues represent pigs, or wild boars, and are associated with the Vettones, a people who inhabited this region in pre-Roman times, and who extended their territory as far as Ávila. The function of these sculptures is not clear, but having been a community with a strong pastoral component, they could have been monuments associated with the territorial borders, or, as in other villages in this region, important symbols placed in the access routes to residential centres. Little is known about this ancient settlement and its evolution, although some findings suggest the uninterrupted permanence of a small community from the Iron Age, through the Roman period, and remaining to the Early Middle Ages. But it was at the end of this last period that this community became especially important, as can be attested by the expansion of the walled area, which in a short space of time came to house 3 different parishes. The older wall, with unsigned brickwork, is located at a higher level and integrates the Santa Maria Church. The church, now in ruins, still preserves frescoes in a side chapel and a significant alfarge ceiling, Mudejar work from the 16th century. The castle is located at the southern angle of this first wall, of which the perfect arch door that separated it from the houses is still preserved. To the west, the ruins of the Keep still survive. 16th century drawings by Duarte de Armas, still depicted the Keep with a roof and merlons. Next to it, a cistern collected and conserved rainwater. On this first wall, to the southeast, survives the False Gate, as Duarte de Armas called it. The foundation of this first castle dates back to the end of the 12th century, therefore, before King Sancho II, the monarch who granted the village its first charter. In fact, Castro Menendi is the designation that appears on the seal which authenticates the oldest document referring to Castelo Mendo, dating back to 1202, proof of its very ancient municipal power. The charter granted by King Sancho II, on 15th March 1229, reveals the existence of a castle and a village that developed to the North, around the S. Pedro Church. As a way to encourage settlement, King Sancho II established a weekly market, on Sundays inside the castle, and a fair, held three times a year, lasting eight days, which is one of the oldest medieval fairs in our country. The rapid development of the outskirts meant that, at the beginning of the 14th century, the then town of Castelo Mendo was provided with a second, broader line of walls, functioning as a defence for the houses which had sprung up around the S. Pedro Church. Constructed during the reign of King Dinis, the second wall has several Gothic features: initialled brickwork, the quadrangular turrets of which eight have been preserved, and a great number of doors. The wall built by King Dinis contains four gates. The main one is the Town Gate, protected by two turrets, next is the Guard Gate, through the Sun Gate, which leads to the cobblestone path that descended to Porto de São Miguel and a fourth door, unnamed, boarded up since the 16th century. In that same century, a new church had already been built, that of S. Vicente, next to the Town Gate. On 1st June 1510, King Manuel I granted a new Charter to Castelo Mendo and the town gained a pillory, built next to the S. Vicente Church, a Town Hall and respective prison. During those decades, the population dwindled and the strategic relevance of the town faded, although it maintained its municipal status until 1855. The historical village of Castelo Mendo was classified as a Place of Public Interest in 1984.
What to see
Medieval Cobblestone Walkway
The descent from Castelo Mendo to Porto de S. Miguel follows a path where you can still tread medieval pavement. In the middle of the route, there are 13 crosses and the date 1728 carved on a rock. The date probably refers to the year some improvement of the path was carried out, but the crosses are difficult to interpret. This important path, which enabled access to a ferry crossing, or a ford in the dry season of the Côa River, has been used since ancient times, as evidenced by the ceramics, coins and Roman structures identified in the vicinity of this river passage.
House with a Porched Balcony in the Pillory Square
Built in the 16th century, it consists of two floors, with a porch on the façade, the result of a remodelling in the late 1600s. The balcony has a framed parapet and consoles decorated with volutes, on which six columns with Tuscan capitals rest. Three doors open onto this beautiful balcony, one of which is decorated with an ogee (wavy arch that converges at a vertex). The ground floor doors are also a part of this façade, facing Pillory Square. The one on the right, in a more recessed part, is an entry to an expansion of the house, carried out in 1801, based on an inscription preserved on the balcony. A small fountain, located here, is of recent construction. An important testimony to the civil architecture of this Historical Village, the House of the Square, in addition to having been a residence, has been used as a Primary School, Post Office and Civil Parish Council, which still functions there today.
House of the Foundling Wheel
In 1783, during the reign of Queen Maria I, Foundling Wheels, associated with the Santas Casas (charity institutions), were established in the cities and towns of the Kingdom. Here, abandoned young children were welcomed, a fate imposed by poverty, hunger, and so often, by the embarrassment of illegitimacy. The high mortality rate associated with this practice, which emerged as a response to infanticide, abortion and child abandonment, which were common practices until the 18th century, led to its definitive extinction in 1867. The window where the foundling was left still exists in this house of the Historical Village.
16th Century House
Two-storey house built, or remodelled, in the 16th century. On the ground floor, a wide door with a straight and bevelled lintel leads to a store with a paved flooring. A granite staircase leads to the upper floor, with a stone guardrail and a porch supported by octagonal columns, with square-section bases and capitals, decorated with cords and small chamfers.
Manueline Houses on Rua do Forno
Back-to-back constructions of civil architecture, consisting of two floors. They have a simple rectangular floor plan, with the shorter side facing the street, a single-panel roof and Manueline-influenced doors. These houses have doors with a lowered ogee and a window, different from its original size, with two lateral corbels. The windowsill features a decorated corbel.
Colmeal Countryside Hotel
Hidden in Serra da Marofa, in Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, the Colmeal Countryside Hotel is much more than a 4-star hotel: it is the perfect retreat to find the silence, the hospitality and the delights of Beirã gastronomy, in a historic village surrounded by nature. Rebuilt in line with the local heritage by the architect Pedro Brígida, Colmeal has 11 rooms and 3 country houses, a relaxing SPA and an outdoor pool with water from the mountains that surround the 700 hectares of the farm. At the restaurant, you can also taste the best regional products recreated in recipes with the signature of Chef Vítor Sobral, accompanied by the unique aromas of Silêncio, white or red wine, produced locally. On foot or by bicycle, Colmeal invites you to walk the old paths of the shepherds and discover the history of the village, the landscape of the mountains, the flight of birds, the rock paintings, the streams and, above all, the silence nature's infinite. Through visits organized by the region, we can take you to discover the rock engravings of Foz Côa, take a boat trip through the Douro International, visit the Faia Brava reserve, walk through Riba Côa, watch the water birds in the Santa Maria de Aguiar dam or visit the historic village of Castelo Rodrigo, one of the 7 wonders of Portugal. Whether private or business, make an appointment with the silence of this refuge and ask us for information so that we can make your stay a unique experience. At Colmeal Countryside Hotel you will find all the serenity you need to disconnect from the world. And connect more and more with yourself.
Casa do Corro
Casa do Corro is a small house designed to offer the maximum comfort and wellbeing that we all deserve. We have a wide range of conditions that you can enjoy to the full in this calm, relaxing lifestyle in direct contact with nature. Come and visit us and enjoy the ambiance, tranquillity and harmony that we have to offer.
What to do
Just Go – Actividades de Animação Turística
A JUST GO é uma Empresa de Animação especializada em atividades turísticas no território da Beira interior. Situados no coração da cidade da Guarda, planeamos com pormenor os programas de maneira a que cada experiência seja única e inesquecível. Tudo é pensado com profissionalismo e responsabilidade.
Por estarmos inseridos numa região com grande potencialidade, conseguimos proporcionar experiências diversificadas, a quem nos procura, desde: provas gastronómicas, provas de vinhos, roteiros pelo Vale Glaciar do Zêzere, Gravuras Rupestres, Tour de Kayak, Sunsets, Miradouros, Tours pelas Aldeias Históricas e pelas aldeias Medievais de Portugal, manhãs com o pastor ou trilhos de caminhos com bicicleta elétrica, entre outras.
Solar São João Casa Memória Almeida
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.