Pousada de Viseu - 18th-century, neoclassical hospital converted into a fine hotel
Atop the entrance to this majestic, imposing 18th Century building stand three statues – Faith, Hope and Charity - looking attentively out over the rich architectural heritage of the old city whose name is derived from the Roman term "viso", meaning a good view. Viseu offers its visitors some quite magnificent panoramic views from its highest point where the original settlement was formed in Roman times.
The Pousada de Viseu is set in the former São Teotónio Hospital, designed and built in the late 1700s but inaugurated in 1842.The original hospital building, a square neoclassical construction of 4 floors with a large cloister at its heart, has been restored and subtly adapted into a very complete and stylish Pousada with all the facilities of a contemporary 4* hotel. Its transformation into a modern hotel has preserved many of the original features. The bold architecture of the attractive building has been enhanced by strong colours and attractive furnishings with just a touch of modern design. The cloister is completely enclosed by a ceiling, providing the Pousada de Viseu with a stylish, covered courtyard lounge where you can relax, enjoy a coffee or aperitif before dinner, and often eat should you prefer this area to the more formal restaurant “Viriato” set in one of the rooms off to the side.
The Pousada’s restaurant is bright, spacious enough, and service here is excellent so we can thoroughly recommend eating here. You simply have to decide if you prefer the more formal setting of the restaurant or the more relaxed courtyard/lounge feel of the enclosed cloister. On Saturday evenings a pianist can often be heard here. A lounge bar/café completes this area and is open all day for drinks, snacks and afternoon tea. You will no doubt be interested in visiting the wine shop next to the reception, where you can taste local wines and make purchases, and alongside that you will discover the cosy cigar lounge – set in the original pharmacy of the hospital – where you can purchase fine cigars or enjoy your own in calm surroundings.
On the second floor you will find the Pousada’s Spa with its calm ambience. A small-medium sized indoor pool and facilities that include a Turkish bath, sauna, Jacuzzi, and treatment rooms are found within, and these services are very reasonably priced. Access to the spa is included in the cost of your room, with additional costs for treatments.
The interior of the Pousada de Viseu around the cloister is decorated in a strong mustard tone which contrasts magnificently with the lighter stone of the pillars and arches. The corridors to the bedrooms are complemented by rich, dark wood and subtle lighting, and are accessed by several lifts or a marble-clad staircase.
Bedrooms are of a very generous size with large beds and modern bathrooms, and many of the superior rooms on the 4th floor have balconies affording great views onto the city below.
The outdoor pool alongside Viseu’s Pousada is open seasonally, and is surrounded by a terrace with sunbeds and seating, providing you with a luxurious outdoor area on which to relax and enjoy the panoramic views. Beyond that is the lower and main car park, and an enclosed open area which can only be accessed via the front gates of the Pousada, where there are also a dozen spaces directly by the entrance to the Pousada.
This Pousada is accessible by wheelchair and well suited to those with mobility issues.
Viseu is located half way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Spanish border, 130km south east of Porto. A busy provincial city with a lively cobbled centre full of artistic treasures, historical churches and a strong culture of local crafts, it is surrounded by rich agricultural land and pastures of grazing sheep, the area is also renowned for its fine cheeses. Those with a love of architecture will enjoy the Baroque and Neoclassical buildings and churches, with lovely old houses just beyond the main central streets decorated colourfully and an impressive tiled wall alongside the central taxi rank of Viseu’s historic centre.
Viseu was the birthplace of one of the greatest Portuguese painters of the sixteenth century, Vasco Fernandes, who today lends his name to a museum that houses most of his paintings, a school, and even a wine label. Viseu and the region are famous for their Dão Wine and the Dão Wine Institute can be found in the city. The fertile wine-growing area of Dão has records dating back to the 12th Century and is renowned for the excellence of wine it produces.
The mountains and hills which surround the town are some of its major attractions. In the colder months snowy peaks provide the backdrop for winter sports and through the summer its peace and natural beauty make it perfect for walking and enjoying a glass of Dão wine with a picnic!