15 things to do in Estremoz (Portugal)

Estremoz, with its vineyards and golden plains, is a historic city within two defensive walls. The upper core is the residence of the medieval royal family, where Queen Elizabeth of Aragon died in the 14th century. Downstream, there is a new wall of the 17th century in response to the threat of Spain after the Restoration War.

Estremoz is nicknamed “Ciudad Branca” and the White City is named after the large amount of white marble mined nearby. The town’s houses and monuments are made of this material, giving them an irresistible sheen.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Estremoz:

1. Castelo de Estremoz

Estremoz Castle

The castle dominates the town from the highest point and boasts a sleek marble castle from the 14th century.

At this great height, you can see stunning views of the golden plains of the Alentejo at almost every turn.

At the foot of the 27-meter-high castle, there is a square with a statue of Elizabeth of Aragon, who died in the castle in 1336, and a ceremonial hall with an ornate marble arcade.

Part of the castle is the Pousada (historic hotel), but day-trippers get plenty of access and can zoom in on the castle to get a closer look at its Gothic three-leaf windows and pointy mellons.

2. Capela da Rainha Santa

Capela da Rainha San Estremoz

In the castle, the room once occupied by Elizabeth of Aragon in the 14th century was turned into a chapel after she was beatified.

She was known for her sense of charity and was made a saint in 1625. After the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Elvas in 1659, the church began work as a token of thanks.

Ornate Baroque paintings and blue and white tiles on the walls tell the story of moments in the Queen’s life, including the miracles attributed to her.

Below the gallery is a marble panel with an 1808 inscription praising the saint for protecting Estremoz from the French during the Peninsular War.

3. Castelo de Evora Monte

Castelo de Évora Monte

Not far southwest of Estremoz, the castle protects a village on a tall cliff.

Although some kind of fortress has existed since the Romans, the current story of Gothic and Renaissance architecture begins in 1306. By the 14th century it was in the hands of the Braganza family, which underwent a Renaissance redesign after the earthquake of the 16th century.

Despite its elegant appearance, the building was purely defensive in purpose and was never intended to be used as a residence.

The interior is still bare, but it’s worth a look at their columns and vaults.

The countryside from the heights is magnificent, and you can see the castle on the plains of Estremoz.

4. Museu Municipal Prof. Joaquim Vermelho

Professor Joaquim Vermelho, Municipal Museum

Inside the upper enclosure, the Municipal Museum is located in a 16th-century hall facing the castle.

From a hospice in the 1500s to a vocational school in the 1800s, the building had many jobs at the time.

The museum is the successor to the institution and highlights local handicrafts from the 18th and 19th centuries in Estremoz.

There are carved marble, painted Alentejo furniture, pottery and cork.

You can also see the interiors of local houses from that period, where cookware and other utensils are displayed.

There’s also a well-run workshop on site where you can watch potters make the town’s Bonecos.

5. Núcleo Medieval de Estremoz

Estremoz city walls

Conquering the slopes to the older upper part of Estemoz feels like a real adventure as you approach the Santarem Gate and the jagged walls from the west.

These used to have 22 towers, most dating back to the 13th century period of Alfonso III and Denis I, but the fort built around the corner was much later to deal with artillery.

Everything feels a lot older the moment you walk through the arches and head to the Cathedral of Largo.

Some buildings were better off, but the mullioned windows and Gothic pointed arches hint at the era of the quarter.

6. Down Town

Estremoz

Much of Estremoz is now located on the periphery of the 13th-century city walls, a settlement that has been growing since the Middle Ages.

After the Portuguese Restoration in the 17th century, a new line of fortifications was drawn to contain the perimeter of the city.

The “Segunda Linha” was ordered in 1642 by King John IV, who recruited the Dutch engineer Joannes Ciermans to do the job.

These walls have the low profile of Vauban’s famous fortifications in France and are broken by four gates: Évora, Santa Catarina, San Antonio and Courras, each with their own historical details worth checking out, whatever Whether it’s a coat of arms, a drawbridge, or a carved relief.

7. Estremoz Marble

Estremoz marble

Only Carrara, Italy, exports more marble than Estremoz, and the quarries outside the town have been mined since Roman times.

Marble is almost everywhere in Estremoz, in the facades of buildings, lintels and window frames, doorways, fountains and even the mosaics on the sidewalks.

Of course, this will add a regal look and atmosphere to the town, if you want to know more you can ask the tourist office.

They will give you access to a working quarry, where huge slabs are cut from the ground, or a stone workshop like Oficina Avelino Lopes, where stone can be easily shaped.

8. Santa Maria Church

santa maria church

This Mannerist church, built in the last decades of the 16th century, is another Portuguese National Monument in the Upper Town.

What excites experts about the building is its perfect symmetry according to Mannerist principles.

The interior is divided into three equal naves, and the length of the building is equal to the width and height, although the altar was extended in a later renovation.

The strict geometry of the church sets it apart, as there is a very sober decoration on the exterior and interior, another characteristic of Portuguese Mannerist architecture.

9. Centro De Ciência Viva De Estremoz

Centro De Ciência Viva De Estremoz

Parents escaping the summer sun can take their kids to this interactive science museum.

Practice galleries address topics such as evolution, the solar system, earth geology and volcanoes, as well as the physics of atmospheric pressure and how it can be applied to underwater exploration.

Adults will also be fascinated by the museum’s architecture, which is the Renaissance Maltese Abbey (Malta Monastery). This national monument also houses the town hall and takes its name from the fact that it was once the only monastery of the Order of Malta in Portugal.

10. Praça Luís de Camões

Praça Luís de Camões, Estremoz

This plaza in the lower town is quite stately, facing the slope and surrounded by beautiful townhouses, one of which has a nice loggia.

The pavements here are paved with strikingly patterned calçada Portuguesa.

In the center of the square on the compass mosaic is the town’s pillory, a symbol of autonomy and justice.

This dates back to the early 16th century, when King Manuel I ascended the throne.

Originally it was set in front of the castle, but was finally moved before its current location in 1916. Despite its mixed history, the Shackles’ shafts, pilasters and spires have their original Manueline masonry.

11. Bonecos de Estremoz

Bonecos de Estremoz

If you need a souvenir or gift that can only come from Estremoz, bonecos are brightly colored ceramic figurines made in the town since the 1600s at the latest.

They are an enduring part of their cultural identity and are made by only a few artisans who learn their skills from their parents.

These figurines have a rustic, innocent quality, nativity figures or prominent figures of the city’s past, such as Elizabeth of Aragon.

Over time, over 100 characters have been counted.

12. Mercado Semanal de Estremoz

Mercado Semanal de Estremoz

Rossio Marquês de Pombal is a huge public space in the heart of the old city and claims to be the largest square in Portugal.

From here there is an excellent view of the castle, flanked by the towers of another church or monastery.

That’s all for the Saturday morning weekly market.

The square is packed with stalls selling fruits and vegetables, grains, herbs, cheese, olives and olive oil, cured sausages and even live animals.

Meanwhile, there is an antiques fair where people sell anything from old gramophone records to stamps, coins, furniture, china and kitchen utensils.

13. Bernardine Ribeiro Theatre

Bernardine Ribeiro Theater

The town’s splendid theatre opened in 1922 with a design inspired by the Renaissance.

In the auditorium, superb stucco was designed and painted by acclaimed artist and interior designer Benvindo Ceia.

At the front of the booth, you’ll see the names of some of the most famous figures in Portuguese theatre in the early 20th century.

The venue hosts plays, concerts, dance performances, opera and poetry readings.

There are also screenings of new versions of the film, and these are subtitled in English and Portuguese.

14. Festival da Rainha

Estremoz Festival da Rainha

Estremoz hosts a medieval fair on a weekend at the end of May.

It’s a grand celebration of the town’s heritage, with a special focus on Queen Elizabeth of Aragon.

There are plenty of fun activities on the weekends: you can watch carefully choreographed swordplay, dance recitals, equestrian competitions, traveling theatre troupes and bards.

Artisans and traders from all over the world set up their stalls in the market, which is the perfect opportunity to experience the Alentejo’s precious olive oil or presunto (cured ham) for yourself.

15. Wine tourism

Periquita

Estremoz’s sunny climate and soil support rare wine grape varieties.

For red wines, the Periquita, Aragonez and Trincadeira varieties account for more than three-quarters of all wines produced in the region.

For whites, Perrum, Roupeiro, Tamarez and Rabo de Ovelha all excel in clay-rich soils and full sun.

If you want to go to the source, as many as 20 wine estates are open to tourists around Estremoz.

Begin your journey with Tiago Cabaço, Herdade dos Servas and Adega Vila Santa run by celebrity winemaker João Portuguese Ramos.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Estremos, Portugal
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