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Seven Wonders of Portugal

Portugal is a nation rich in history, its leading role in the Age of Discoveries shaped the world we see today and as you explore this wonderful country we are sure you will find a plethora of sites of historic and cultural interest.  In 2007 the country held a vote to decide its top attractions and thus the ‘Seven Wonders of Portugal’ were announced, celebrating some of the country’s crowning achievements in historic architecture.

Belém Tower, Lisbon (Belém District)

Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Lisbon that played a key role in Europe’s Age of Discoveries. Sitting on an island in the Tagus River, the tower was built in the early 16th century during the height of the Portuguese Renaissance and was originally constructed to defend Lisbon from attackers and as a ceremonial gateway to the city. From 1580 onwards the tower served as a political prison and then later as a telegraph tower.

The structure was built from Lioz limestone and is one of the few remaining authentic examples of Manueline architecture in the Lisbon area after many buildings were destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Today the tower is a popular attraction with tourists and an artificial lake has been created around the tower requiring visitors to cross a walkway to the entrance.

Where to stay?

Pousada de Lisbon

Located in a former municipal building in Praça do Comercio, this Pousada is in a prime location for exploring some of Lisbon’s liveliest streets and neighbourhoods, as well as close to transport links towards Belém.

Pestana Palace Lisbon

This hotel occupies the former 19th century Valle Flôr palace situated in the residential district of Alto de Santo Amaro, a short distance from Belém with transport links into Lisbon.

We also work with a selection of excellent hotels in Lisbon’s city centre.

Jerónimos Monastery , Lisbon (Belém District)

This sprawling monastery is a hard site to miss if you visit Lisbon’s Belém District.  Construction on the monastery began in 1502 and was completed in the 17th century when it became home of the Order of Saint Jerome before being secularised in 1833 by state decree and its ownership transferred to the charitable institution, Real Casa Pia de Lisboa, as an educational institution for disadvantaged children.

The San Jeronimos Monastery, or Hieronymites Monastery as it is also known, is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon, another of the few survivors of the Lisbon Earthquake. The remains of several of Portugal’s most celebrated citizens have been transferred to the monastery including explorer Vasco da Gama and poets Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa.

The monastery was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and today its grandiose architecture, spectacular cloisters, courtyards and gardens are popular with tourists.

Batalha Monastery, Batalha

The Monastery of Batalha is a 14th century Dominican convent in the municipality of Batalha in the Centro Region of Portugal.  Its official name is the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory and it was erected in commemoration of the Portuguese victory against the Crown of Castile in the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota.

The monastery is one of the finest and original examples of Late Gothic architecture (mixed with Manueline flourishes) in Portugal and its sharp, detailed arches give the structure an imposing, eerie character.

During the 15th century the church would serve as the burial site of the 15th-Century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royalty and today it is a visited by tourists who marvel at the architecture.

Where To Stay?

Pousada de Ourém

This Pousada is located in the quiet village of Ourém, a short distance from Fatima, a famous pilgrimage site. The Pousada is made up of a collection of medieval houses.

Alcobaça Monastery, Alcobaça

The medieval Alcobaça Monastery lies in the heart of Portugal in the town of Alcobaça and was established in 1153 King Afonso Henriques. The monastery and church were among the first Gothic buildings in Portugal and considered one of the most important monasteries in Portugal, in its prime it was home to over 900 Cistercian monks. The monastery was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status n 1989 thanks to its cultural, artistic and historical importance.

It is famously the resting place of King Pedro the Cruel and his murdered wife Inês. Inês’ tomb is intricately decorated with gremlins, meant to represent her assassins, and is one of the main visitor attractions of the monastery.

Óbidos Castle, Óbidos

The Castle of Óbidos dominates the skyline of the medieval town of Óbidos. The foundations of the fortress date back to the 1st century Roman occupation and the castle itself was constructed in the late 12th century. A palace was added in the 16th century, nestled inside the defensive walls.

The castle was severely damaged during the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 and left in ruin for many years before being rebuilt by the Portuguese government in the 1950s and opened as the Pousada Castelo de Óbidos and guests can stay in the palace, the castle towers and in neighbouring cottages.

Today the castle plays an important role in the town’s tourism, often the focal point of many of the local festivals such as the summer medieval market where the town comes alive with knights, jesters and street performers. 

Where to stay?

Pousada Castelo de Óbidos

Here you have the opportunity to stay in the ‘Wonder’ itself. The Castle is only open to Pousada guests (or those dining in the restaurant) so this is the perfect opportunity to explore the castle and live like a royal for a night.

Pousada Vila Óbidos

The town’s second Pousada is located in the heart of the town in an 18th century building and shares the castle’s restaurant.

Castle of Guimarães, Guimarães

The Castle of Guimarães is at the heart of the historic city known as the ‘birthplace of Portugal’. The city earned its moniker in large part to the castle which was constructed in the late 10th and early 11th centuries and served as the home of Count Henrique, father of the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques – it was even rumoured that the king was born in the castle itself.

A defensive building was originally commissioned by Mumadona, the countess of Galicia, in the late 10th century as a refuge for those escaping Moorish and Viking attacks and fortifications were expanded by Count Henrique, creating the keep and fortified castle walls. It continued to be used as a defensive structure until well into the 14th century but fell into ruin after sustained damage from ever evolving weaponry until it was carefully restored to its original grandeur in the early 20th century.

Where to stay?

Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães

Located approximately 1km from the centre of Guimarães, the Pousada is located in a 12th century convent overlooking the city below.

Pena National Palace, Sintra

Atop a hill in the Sintra Mountains sits the colourful Palacio Nacional da Pena. Surrounded by greenery, this 19th century palace is an excellent example of the Romanticism style of architecture. A former holiday residence of Portguese Royals its interiors have been restored to reflect the decadence of its 1910 furnishings before the royal family fled to Brazil. Surrounded by statues, hidden pathways, battlements and intricately carved gateways, there are surprises to be found in every corner of this extravagant complex and it attracts millions of tourists to Sintra each year.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is primarily a tourist destination although is also used by the President of Portugal for state occasions.

Where to stay?

We also work with a number of hotels in and around Sintra such as the Tivoli Sintra and the Tivoli Palacio de Setais.

We also work with a number of hotels in and around Sintra such as the Tivoli Sintra and the Tivoli Palacio de Setais.

How many of the ‘Wonders’ have you ticked off your list? Planning a trip incorporating the sites is an excellent way to explore Portugal and see the best that this wonderful country has to offer. If you would like help planning a trip,