Vila Viçosa has always been rightly considered a jewel in the treasure chest of Alentejo, so it is hardly surprising to find that it has often been included in royal dowries and endowments. Dona Brites, the wife of King Afonso IV, was the first to receive it as a wedding present, followed by Leonor Teles, King Fernando’s lover who was hated by the people of Lisbon, and was later presented to Nuno Álvares Pereira, the heroic general of King João I.
There is much natural and man made beauty in town, which covers an area of less than 200 square km. It is easy to reach the conclusion that the natural beauty inspired men to continue to be creative, as the town’s rich cultural heritage would not have been enlarged and improved as it has been over the centuries.
In today’s industrial age, nature is still the driving force behind the production of the beautiful pieces of ornamental stone, besides the marble which has long been the mainstay of the local economy. Vila Viçosa will satisfy the demands of the most refined visitor. Historical episodes abound in the churches, convents and palaces, while wild boar and deer run free in the royal hunting grounds “Tapada Real”. As you can no doubt guess, the traditional cuisine of the Alentejo reaches its high point here, with special emphasis on cakes and desserts, above all “Tibornas”.
Viçosa also used to be famous for its traditional dishes, like gaspacho frio, açorda com ovos, sopa da panela, sopa de cachola, sopa de batata, sopa de tomate, sopa de beldroegas, sopa de cebola, sopa dourada, migas com carne de porco, pezinhos de coentrada, ensopado de borrego, cozido a alentejana, bacalhau or sardinhas assadas or the various types of sausage used to cook favada.
The town also produces traditional fresh, half cured and cured cheeses, and is famous for its olives.
Traditional cakes and sweets include tibornas de amendoa a gila, as filhós a as azevias, sericá (showing the influence of the Far East), arroz doce, queijadas, toucinho do céu, nógados, bolos fintos and many others types of sweets originally made in the convents
Quinta do Colmeal
A group of beautifully restored
traditional Portuguese farm houses, with swimming pool, dating back to the 16th century. Built around a Roman hermitage amidst a mature orchard of olive, cork and stone oak, almond and orange trees.
The complex of spacious comfortable well furnished farm houses consists of a main house, Casa Rosamarinho (7 pers) with 3 bedrooms and 2 seperate farm cottages, Casa Tomilho (5 pers) with 2 bedrooms and Casa Lavender (2 pers) with 1 bedroom. All houses have their own kitchen, sitting room, ample covered terraces with lovely views. Good heating and cooling (fan) system and TV available.
The Quinta do Colmeal has been the residence of bon João Athayde, Count of Alva and general of King Pedro II, between 1724 and 1751. The general used the walled Quinta as a supply of oranges, watermelons, green beans and olives for his army.
Enjoy the peacefulness, a flock of sheep grazing on the herbal pasture, under the trees… Enjoy the 11×11 m swimming pool situated in the orange orchard, bordered by a sunbathing lawn and at the edge of a roman bridge.
The Quinta do Colmeal is situated in a historical setting within 3 km of Vila Viçosa, famous for the hunting palace of the Portuguese kings. Within the region of the fortified towns of Elvas, Borba, Estremoz and Alandroal. Within half an hour drive from the world heritage city of Evora. Golf courses in Portalegre and Badajoz. Hiking, biking, fishing and bird watching. Not to forget the restaurants with there specialities of the Alentejo and the excellent Borba wines. An abundance of artisans show their leather goods in Terugem, pottery work int Redondo, stone carvings in Borba and carpets in Arraiolos.