Set in one of the most fertile regions of the Alentejo, Vila Viçosa was once at the center of Portuguese history.
The House of the Dukes of Bragança, the most powerful noble family after the Royal Family, was founded here. The first Duke of Bragança was D. Afonso, the illegitimate son of King D. João I (1385-1433). The massive Ducal Palace, which is open to visitors, was the work of the fourth Duke of Bragança, D. Jaime, who made an important contribution to the town's development in the sixteenth century. In 1640, the Braganças came to power. During the Cortes (a royal parliament) of 1646, king D. João IV, the eighth Duke of Bragança, crowned the image of Our Lady of the Conception, who was worshipped at the parish church, and declared her to be the patron saint of Portugal. Since then, the monarchs of Portugal never again wore a royal crown.
Set in the heart of Vila Viçosa, the palace is set at the foot of the castle hill, rising 1,296 feet above a grand square.
The building consists of a grand rectangular profile, extending east to west, with three floors, and an irregular trapezoid structure to the north-south, with the roofing differently tiled above each of the spaces. The principal facade is fully lined with masonry and pink Estremoz marble, corresponding to the three respective floors and central pediment broken by two main doorways. Inside room after room recalls the royal lifestyle, and what it meant to be king. The armory is exhaustive, with every mean of weapon one can imagine.
And, next door the Pousada D. João IV, guests are welcomed into the former 16th century convent, built by D. Jaime of the House of Bragança.