Thirty-two kilometres west of Coimbra, the keep and crenellated silhouette of the castle at MONTEMOR-O-VELHO brood over the flood plain of the Mondego. After it was taken back from the Moors at the end of the eleventh century, Montemor became a favoured royal residence – it was here in 1355 that Dom Afonso IV met with his council to decide on the fate of Inês de Castro, and here, thirty years later, that João of Avis received the homage of the townspeople on his way to Coimbra to be acclaimed Dom João I. Despite this royal attention, the town never really prospered, and there’s not a lot to modern-day Montemor-o-Velho, though come on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month and you can experience the sprawling morning market which spills across the plain in the lee of the castle.

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