Too "dead", for my taste (what a contrast with Obidos), the town, stands inside the castle, and this one needs no life to show its defensive solutions, with large walls, and narrow doors.
After almost 800 years, it has changed position with people: It doesn't protect people anymore, but started being protected by them.
- Historical Travel
After visiting, one doubt I took from there: Is it almost abandoned as it seems, or the life that still stands, is carefully hidden to preserve the ancient look of the place?
At least, I think that tourism would justify a little more of human evidence, but the place deserves a look!
- Historical Travel
Passos da Via Sacra
Well, the Passos da Via Sacra are little altars, Stations of the Cross to remember the Passion and Death of Jesus. They are located in several places of the village beautifully decorated with Baroque style. There are five in the entire village.
Walking through the beautiful narrow and cobbled streets I found the parish church .
A lovely stone church probably built in 1573, date wrote on the door. It is Renaissance style and it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora das Neves .
I didn't get inside because it was closed, maybe next time i will!
What can I say about the Castle? Great, I love castles and walls, so I climbed until the Castle to explore it like I was in ancient times.
It is situated at the highest point of the village and it was built by D. Sancho, probably in 1228 and renovated by D. Dinis and D. Fernando (all kings of Portugal).
It is a Romanic and Gothic castle with Manuelin intervention.
Don?t miss, because it has a great view from there and you can take amazing pics like mines ;-)
As i said before i adore walls and hiking them. These ones are surrounding the entire village in a circular form.
The construction of the walls was in the D.Sancho kingdom and they were restored by D. Manuel I and in the War of the Restauracao.
I really enjoyed walking on the walls and of course taking lots of pics.
Every old town has its Pillory I think and located in central areas almost ever in front of the City Hall or Municipal Council. This particular pelourinho or pillory is located at Praça Publica and it is from the XVI century. You can admire its Manueline style built in stone.
I took this pic from the walls.
As with other main attractions, the parish church is situated by the main square, opposite to the castle. It is a “discrete” church seen from the outside – almost, a plain granite building with reddish door, and a belfry. This church it’s called church of Nossa Senhora das Neves (something like Our Lady of the Snows) and was built in the 14th century, showing Renaissance style details on the façade.
The castle is built on a high platform and overlooks the village and the mountains - as if reminding us of its main purpose: defend the village and its inhabitants against invaders. As with many castles, this one was built in the 13th century for the same military reason: defensive purposes.
To access the Castle, there are some stairs near the pelourinho (main square). Inside the castle you will be able to notice a well and also the Torre de Menagem, apart from being able to walk on the walls. As you go up the stairs to the castle don’t forget to peep into the false door, covered with an iron grid.
The village is surrounded by the walls. On these walls, there are some entrances to the village, called doors. Some of them are called false doors, as they don't allow the passage - they overlook the gorge and have an iron grid to prevent accidents. Main entrance door to the village it's Porta da Vila (village door) and leads you to main square (after walking through a straight street), where Sortelha's major sites are situated: pelourinho, church, castle and stairs to go up the walls. Opposite to that door, it's the Porta Nova (new door). I used this one, as there was no one around and parking the car was very easy. This door leads you through a main street that finishes at the main square. Unlike most people arriving by the main door, I had some time by myself, which allowed me to quietly observe and wander around.
Enjoy the view
Go up the castle's walls and delight yourself! If you visit Sortelha on a weekday, you will probably be the only outsider on the village - take advantage of that and enjoy the silence and quietness. I visited Sortelha on a Saturday, but off peak season (February) and village was very quiet. Going up the castle's walls provides a breathtaking scenario (on sunny and clear days, as was the one I had) and also quietness and peace - majestic mountainous landscape around you makes you feel so small and fragile, … no words to describe, just a warning: enjoy it!!
Wander around the cobbled streets
The streets are sometimes steep, but, still, easy to walk around. As typical of Portugal, streets are narrow and cobbled, and houses are small and most of them are only one floor high. Streets are very narrow and while walking around you will come across locals on their daily life, most of them elderly. Also, I noticed that most houses have small courtyards. Locals are friendly and welcoming and when strolling around those streets I often got a smile from them, as I was the only visitor around - all others where on main streets and up the castle walls.
Pelourinho is an "artefact" that is somewhat commonly found on oldest Portuguese villages. It is a symbol of local power and most times it was used for public executions. This one is no exception. It is situated on Sortelha's main square, by the Castle and just in front of the Municipal Council; also the church faces this square.
It dates back to the 16th century, built in stone, as typical of local architecture, and it holds an eagle on top – the symbol of this village and its municipal council. Nowadays, there are 3 gargoyles on the pelourinho, but they used to be four; there is also a shield of the King D. João V epoch and a crown (18th century).
Porta da Vila ou Porta do Concelho
On my photo you can see the main access door to the village, the Porta da Vila ou Porta do Concelho (Village door). You can take your car through that door and park it inside. When i had been there, it was lots of places to park the car.
Walls surround this beautiful village and it has 4 access doors. The Porta da Vila or Porta do Concelho (Village door), on the opposite site there is the Porta Nova or Porta Nova da Vila (New Door), and there is the Porta Falsa (false door) and another false door near the castle.