PORTALEGRE is the capital, market centre and transport hub of Alto Alentejo, a busy commercial centre of around twenty thousand people in the foothills of the Serra de São Mamede. Despite its attractive whitewashed old quarter, it’s not the most appealing of the Alentejo’s towns, but it’s Portalegre’s industrial history that makes it warrant a visit. Until the end of the seventeenth century, the town was a major textiles centre, though the 1703 Methuen Treaty largely put paid to the trade. However, reminders of a prosperous past still survive and lend the town a certain character. The largest tapestry factory – once housed in a Jesuit college in the lower town – has been beautifully restored as city council offices, while the great brick twin chimneys at the very top of town belong to the Fábrica Robinson, a cork factory originally established by an enterprising Yorkshireman (there are plans to turn this into a cultural centre).

All roads converge on the Rossio, the nineteenth-century square with a fountain that’s at the heart of modern Portalegre. Beyond here the town gardens flank Avenida da Liberdade, the lower part featuring a renowned plane tree (plátano), planted in 1848, whose spreading branches are now so long they have to be supported by pillars. The old town is reached up steep cobbled streets lined with grand mercantile mansions, a legacy of the wealth from silk workshops and textile factories that once thrived here.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The spirit of fado in Lisbon

The spirit of fado in Lisbon

An intrinsic element of musical tradition in Portugal – fado is a form of melancholic song that characterises the heart of Portuguese culture. Sarah Gilbert v…

25 Jul 2018 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
6 reasons why you should visit Portugal in 2018

6 reasons why you should visit Portugal in 2018

Portugal is less than three hours’ flight time from the UK, while flights from the US are generally available for under $500. Moreover, once you get there, it…

04 May 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
Your Portugal itinerary: 4 road trip ideas to explore the country

Your Portugal itinerary: 4 road trip ideas to explore the country

Portugal is having a real purple patch right now. It’s one of the safest and least expensive countries in Europe with a balmy year-round sunny climate. Your d…

03 May 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs