Visiting Trancoso is reliving Portugal's history. Today's peace and quiet in its centuries-old castle contrast with the alarms and fears experienced by people of other times. It was a border town, the stage for ﬁghts and battles that were decisive to the formation and independence of the kingdom. Cherished by kings, it received important privileges. King Afonso Henriques granted it a municipal charter and King Afonso III a fair charter. King Dinis commissioned the construction of the walls that still protect a town where Christians and Jews lived side by side.
Our history your time
Localizado no topo de um planalto, de onde se avista um vasto território entre a serra da Estrela e o vale do Douro, Trancoso desenvolveu-se em torno do seu castelo, fundado nos sécs. VIII-IX.
Ao longo de toda a Idade Média, foi um lugar estratégico-militar extremamente importante, instalado numa região de fronteira instável, onde ocorreram vários conflitos e batalhas, primeiro entre cristãos e muçulmanos e, mais tarde, entre Portugal e os reinos vizinhos.
Com Foral outorgado por D. Afonso Henriques (1162-65), nos primórdios da nacionalidade, Trancoso era já uma das principais povoações da região. Seria, também, um relevante centro mercantil, onde a partir de D. Afonso III (1273) se passou a realizar uma das mais antigas e concorridas feiras francas do reino, perpetuada nos nossos dias pela afamada Feira de S. Bartolomeu.
No reinado deste monarca e/ou no de seu filho, D. Dinis – que aqui celebrou as suas bodas com a Rainha Santa, D. Isabel de Aragão, em 1282 – Trancoso foi objeto de uma profunda reforma urbanística, que pautou todo o seu desenvolvimento urbano até meados do séc. XIX. Procedeu-se, então, à ampliação da primitiva cerca amuralhada da vila e, no seu interior, desenhou-se uma malha urbana que tendia para a ortogonalidade das ruas e quarteirões.
Durante a crise dinástica que se sucedeu à morte de D. Fernando, Trancoso foi palco de uma das mais fascinantes páginas da História de Portugal: a 29 de Maio de 1385, um pequeno exército liderado por Gonçalo Vasques Coutinho, alcaide de Trancoso, derrotou o poderoso exército castelhano junto à vila, contribuindo para consolidar a autoridade do Mestre de Avis, D. João, e para reforçar a viabilidade da causa portuguesa nele personificada.
Mais tarde, em 1510, a povoação recebeu Foral Novo de D. Manuel I, adaptando-se, assim, às novas exigências dos tempos modernos.
Com a instalação da Inquisição em Portugal (1536), a vila de Trancoso, que albergava uma das mais numerosas e importantes comunidades judaicas das Beiras, viveu tempos de enorme agitação social, que se prolongaram pelos sécs. XVII e XVIII. Apesar de tudo, estes foram igualmente tempos de grande dinamismo, em que se assiste a uma intensa renovação do conjunto edificado da vila.
Mais recentemente, Trancoso não passou ao lado dos muitos outros acontecimentos que marcaram a História de Portugal, de que são exemplo, já no séc. XIX, as Invasões Francesas e as lutas entre liberais e absolutistas.
Com um distinto e ilustre passado, a vila destacou-se, também, por estar associada a inúmeras figuras históricas e lendárias, como: João Tição, Gonçalo Vasques Coutinho, o Magriço, Gonçalo Annes Bandarra, Gonçalo Fernandes Trancoso, Fernando Isaac Cardoso, entre outros.
What to see
Former Town Hall
Despite being a very plain building, on which the only notable feature is the royal coat of arms on the facade, it retains great symbolism as being the location were the former Town Hall, Public Hearings and Gaol were installed, which were under construction in 1498. Broadly speaking, the current building is the product of the reconstruction project undertaken in 1886-87, where those same services were to be installed, along with other public departments. About forty years later, following the building of the new Town Hall (1920), it was thoroughly remodelled to house the court and gaol only, until the court house (Palácio de Justiça) was inaugurated in 1971.
About 2 km from the old town centre near the Chapel of São Marcos lies the field where the Battle of Trancoso took place on 29 May 1385. The battle was eventually won by the army led by Gonçalo Vasques Coutinho, city administrator of Trancoso, against a powerful Castilian force. It is one of the most glorious moments in Portugal’s history, not only because of the victory but also because of its military, political and symbolic significance in the assertion of the kingdom’s independence. Studies have managed to turn up some aspects of the battle, such as the positioning of the armies and the location of the clash. Even so, the only visible marks of the event are the ruins of the medieval chapel that King Juan of Castile had burned out of revenge for his defeat during another invasion of Portugal.
Santa Eufêmia Chapel
It is a small hexagonal baroque building, with a highly ornate main façade. It was built in 1776 on the initiative of a friar from S. Francisco Monastery. The work was paid for by offerings from the local people, as indicated by inscriptions carved on two granite stones near the chapel.
Capela de Santa Luzia
Already in existence in the late 12th century, this old parish church was rebuilt in the following century, and because it was constantly in a state of disrepair, it underwent various remodelling campaigns, especially beginning in the 17th century. Today, the only thing that remains of the Romanesque-Gothic medieval building is the main chapel, where the superb decoration of the corbel work and the triumphal arch stands out, and possibly the side door, with a lancet arch. As for the doorway of the facade, bevelled and in semi-circular arch, it would have come from the Convent of Santa Clara, which no longer exists. Classified as a Property of Public Interest in 1953.
Capela de São Bartolomeu
The chapel that has been preserved corresponds to the reconstruction ordered undertaken by the Town Hall in 1778. Built in the late-Baroque style and with a hexagonal floor plan, the pediment of the main facade and the openings are decorated with shells, scrolls, coronas and rosettes. On one of the windowless walls, there is a panel of ceramic tiles made in the 20th century at the Fábrica Faiança Battistini de Maria de Portugal (Lisbon), which refers to the fact the chapel was built in memory of the royal wedding anniversary of D. Dinis and D. Isabel de Aragão, celebrated in this village in 1282.
Casas do Durão
Quinta da Bacelada
Hotel Turismo de Trancoso
Solar Sampaio e Melo
The Manor House has eight double rooms and two suites with a décor that is a perfect symbiosis between old furniture that belonged to the family with the luxury of present modernity. It also offers a library, main living room, meetings and games room as well as free wi-fi service. In the garden, surrounded by high walls that give it more privacy, guests can find an outdoor pool for hotter days.
What to do
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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.