© istock/Sohadiszno
© istock/Sohadiszno

Estremoz, the Alentejan city of marble

3 minutes to read

When you travel through the Upper Alentejo, there is a line of beautiful castles drawn during the Medieval Time to protect the border against the Spaniards. Among them, you cannot miss the fortress of Estremoz and a gem inside of it - the Tower of the Three Crowns. Made of marble, it shines on the strong Alentejan sun. The whole town shines as well, once you pass the dark stone city wall. Estremoz is very rich in marble, and it is to be seen in the buildings, the pavement, everywhere. Surrounded by endless vineyards, the Alentejan city of marble is a must-visit if you happen to be in this part of Portugal.

History

Estremoz was quite important in the Middle Ages, and being a bit away from the border, it has been decently preserved. The most famous host of its castle was Queen Saint Elizabeth, whose legendary chamber was turned into a beautiful Barrocan chapel after she was sanctified. Her figure is a big deal in Estremoz and Portugal. She gave away a lot of money for the poor people, and she also helped to keep the peace in the realm by bravely standing between two armies a couple of times. The statue you will see in front of the tower is dedicated to her. 

© iStock / Sohadiszno
© iStock / Sohadiszno

What to see

Estremoz can be divided into three parts, with the ancient town being in the upper area of the city. There are two rows of city walls. The bigger one is also the latter, built in the 17th century. For me, it was an amazing sensation to go through the gates of the smaller one, built in the 18th century. Suddenly, you feel transported to another time. The big avenues from the modern town become sinuous little streets, leading to the castle and the Tower of the Three Crowns. Next to it are the Santa Maria Church, a fine example of Portuguese Mannerist architecture, a temple seeking harmony through its equal measures, and the Queen Saint Elizabeth Chapel

Tower of the Three Crowns, Estremoz
Tower of the Three Crowns, Estremoz
7100-509 Santa Maria, Portugal
Queen Saint Elizabeth Chapel, Estremoz
Queen Saint Elizabeth Chapel, Estremoz
R. da Rainha Santa Isabel 8, 7100-509 Estremoz, Portugal
© iStock / Sohadiszno
© iStock / Sohadiszno

I would recommend you to roam the streets of the ancient burg. You will see amazing buildings in pretty good shape and some others that knew better days, but in all of them, you can still appreciate their magnificence. Outside this first city wall, it is always a good idea to go to the Rossio area and visit the Convent of Maltezas, with a beautiful Manueline cloister, the Church of Santo Cristo... The whole Rossio is worth a visit. If you have time, you can also visit other religious buildings like the nearby São Francisco Convent, or Nossa Senhora dos Mártires Chapel, or even the Congregados Church, where the Museum of Sacred Art is located. 

Rossio Marquês de Pombal, Estremoz
Rossio Marquês de Pombal, Estremoz
Rossio Marquês de Pombal, 7100 Estremoz, Portugal

Wine

Nevertheless, do not leave the area without visiting one of the local wineries! For those of us who live in Alentejo, Estremoz is mostly known for its wine. There are lots of wineries you can visit and do a wine tasting. Alentejan wine is not as renowned as the Douro, although its wines have won a lot of international prizes. It is just as good and much cheaper. I really recommend to tourists from Évora to Estremoz and Borba to stop by and taste it. You will be pleasantly surprised! 

© iStock / Celli07
© iStock / Celli07

Estremoz is fairly well located, halfway between Évora and Elvas, with the motorway A-6 just running by it. If you like pretty castles and good wine, you must stop in the Alentejan city of marble!


The author

Sara Rodriguez Romo

Sara Rodriguez Romo

I live between Salamanca, in Spain, and Marvão, in Portugal. A passionate traveller, I have visited over 30 countries in four continents. Currently I am doing a PhD in Greek Mythology and working with horses, doing rides in the nature.

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