The delightful small town of BELMONTE springs one of the best surprises in the Beiras, a charming place of sun-dappled squares, stone houses dripping with flower-filled windowboxes and lazy dogs basking on the cobbles. There are curiosities at every turn, such as the unusual pillory in the shape of an olive press, or the fire-blackened tree stumps outside the castle, which are the site of Christmas Eve carols and gambols. Meanwhile, in the Zêzere river valley, which Belmonte overlooks, vast peach and cherry orchards splash a blaze of colour each spring.

For the Portuguese Belmonte is best known as the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467–1520), the “discoverer” of Brazil, who was born in the tidily restored castelo overlooking town. Cabral’s father received the castle from Dom Afonso V, and adapted it as the family residence, though it later fell into disrepair. The Igreja de Santiago, just outside the castle walls, contains the Cabral family pantheon (though not the tomb of Pedro Álvares, which is in Santarém), while one of two tiny stone chapels on a hillock opposite is inscribed with the Cabral family coat of arms – two goats within a shield. The Cabral trail also extends to the main through-road named in his honour, where there’s a statue of the explorer clutching a large cross.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Lisbon’s accommodation scene has exploded in recent years, so there is no shortage of places to stay, from histor…

08 Mar 2018 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
Porto versus Lisbon: which should you visit first?

Porto versus Lisbon: which should you visit first?

Porto and Lisbon have much in common – both are hilly cities, with attractive riverside quarters and winding warrens of old lanes and alleyways. Portugal's tw…

07 Mar 2018 • Amanda Tomlin insert_drive_file Article
An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Porto

An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Porto

Porto’s cityscape of narrow streets and stepped alleys spreads up the steep slopes of the Douro river to a centre full of broad squares, Neoclassical building…

13 Feb 2018 • Amanda Tomlin insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right