I found Belmonte’s architecture quite pleasant – most houses are made of stone, in a simple and sober style, with windows and doors made of wood – I don’t know the name of that wood, but it has a pretty colour, not too dark and not too light. The streets are well taken care of, with flowerpots spread here and there, making them very pleasant for a stroll on a sunny day. Locals were very friendly and welcoming to us. And we found that food was very good there, as well as a typical desert called “Papas de Carolo” cooked with corn and milk.
The Serra da Estrela region has had some routes defined. Belmonte is such a surprising little town that managed to be included in 3 of them, namely:
- The Castle’s route
- The Jewish route (the Jewish community in Belmonte has always had an important role, even during the Inquisition, when they managed to keep safe and continue their believes secretly)
- The Portuguese Discoveries route, due to the outstanding member of this community – Pedro Álvares Cabral
Belmonte is part of Castelo Branco District. This lovely village is situated near the slopes of Serra da Estrela, a beautiful mountain in the centre of Portugal, with the highest spot on mainland. Belmonte is situated about 300km of Lisbon.
We visited Belmonte on a sunny day in middle February. Although it was still Winter, Belmonte showed itself quite flowered and well taken care off. All through this lovely village, we came across flowerbeds and flowerpots, which made us feel like Spring on was its way.
There is no exact information about these Roman ruins. There are 2 distinctive versions of what it might have been, although none of them is confirmed:
1. Some say these are the ruins of a Roman Vila, dating from the 1st century. The Vila was partially destroyed by a fire in the 3rd/4th century and later rebuilt. This version, says that this Vila lived from agriculture or/and exploitation of minerals, although the building seems quite fancy and luxurious for those purpose.
2. That 3 floored tower with a distinctive and unusual appearance may have been a jail. Cellae means cell in Latin, and this might have been a jail with a hundred (centum) cells. Some say this version is the most likely, and that Pope S. Cornélio was arrested here.