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Castles of Portugal: Sortelha

Sortelha (10 km south of Sabugal) - Few granite towns seem so lost in the past as Sortelha.


Rising as the tip of a granite hill, Sortelha with its few hundred inhabitants is a magical place. Not only is the original town still enclosed in uneven walls, but also the houses have barely evolved from the 14th century. It is a place of timeless beauty lost in a modern world. Here once stood a Celtic village, followed by a Roman town, and finally in the 13th century, a Portuguese frontier village. In 1228 D. Sancho I ordered the town refortified. It was repaired over the centuries, but eventually lost its military significance and the castle was abandoned. Yet, it remained in relatively good condition, and today is a wonderful example of an early Portuguese castle. The village’s partially ruined town walls and door less gates welcome the visitor to a place of granite faced elders, roaming chickens, and donkeys in the streets. The visitor is still greeted with a “Good Day,” by the locals. The castle itself lies at the center of the town and is ship-like and simple, built of square granite rocks, and a simple keep. The Ogival doors, simple balcony with murder hole, and amazing views make Sortelha a true voyage to another time.


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