Welcome to Castelo Branco, Portugal

Castelo Branco Welcomes the World
in 2005!

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Castelo Branco, centrally positioned between the North and the South of Portugal, has ever since remote times been the borderland for two distinct cultural regions, ie: the world of granite and the world of slate. In terms of human population, this area of Castelo Branco has been inhabited ever since the Bronze Age, and despite the turbulent historical times, it was during the medieval period, with the construction of its borders, that Castelo Branco took on its relevant regional role.

It was after the issue of the charter of Pedro Alvito (13th Century), Master of the Templars, that this place developed its two important functions; firstly, defense of the area and, secondly, the growth of the countryside with regard to both the breeding of animals and the cultivation of crops. These two aspects of development are clearly demonstrated in a drawing/sketch done at the beginning of the 16th century. If one pays heed to the profile of the borough as drawn up by "Duarte d'Armas, one can understand the way in which the urban city evolved. It had a castle as its early nucleus, situated on top of a hill, and this was where Castelo Branco was born. The village that surrounded the templar's castle soon began acquiring new spaces, extending all the way down in an easterly direction from the top of the hill.

Today, many features of this area have been preserved as they were in the old days. The streets still climb gradually up along the slope in the direction of the castle, with their decorate gateways recalling the names of the trades of the people of those times (with such examples as Peleteiros Street, Potters' Street, Blacksmith Street), with small farming plots (which are still being used), and the olive groves along the southern slope; one can still take note of all these characteristics of the small world of the streets, along with their typical smells and sounds.

For centuries, it was its position which bestowed upon Castelo Branco all the characteristics of a collection of strongholds and the necessary conditions, and thereby affecting the fate and the growth of the city. Out of the ancient function of defense of the Castle, there developed a good vantage point, from which, on a clear day, one can see the entire course of the upper part of the river Tejo to the Raiana zone, the area which borders Spain.

Today Castelo Branco is the commercial and administrative canter of the region named Beira Baixa. The restored walls of the 16th Century castle still keep watch over the city today.

The most outstanding attraction to be seen is the Jardim Episcopal adjoining the palace of the Bishop. Created in the 18th Century the layout is very formal but the stonework and statues that decorate the garden are so heavily Baroque in style it leaves a distinct impression in your memory.

Carved stone replicas of saints, monarchs, animals and general objects, stand silently in witness to your presence. The then hated Spanish Kings are reproduced in half-size as a political statement of that time.

Within the palace is the Museu Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior, displaying amongst sacred objects some fine examples of silk-embroidered bedspreads from this region. These bed covers have been produced in this area for several hundred years and are know as "colchas".

Detailed Map of Castelo Branco
1Hotel - Tryp Colina do Castelo7Hotel - Residencial Horta D´Alva
2Governo Civil de Castelo Branco8Hotel - Residencial Império
3Cine-Teatro Avenid9Train Station
4Cyber Centro 10Bus Station
5Hotel - Rainha D. Amélia (Best Western)11Post Office
6Hotel - Residencial Arraiana12Bar Património (After Hours)
$ATM Cash/Bank MachineTTaxi
Travel to Castelo Branco from Lisbon:

To get to Castelo Branco, it is suggested that the best airport to fly to is Lisbon.

  • from Lisbon to Castelo Branco by Train: The latest timetable shows trains operating between 8:20 and 19.00 and taking approximately three hours. From Lisbon, Intercity Trains operate from Lisbon (Gare do Oriente) to Castelo Branco.

  • from Lisbon to Castelo Branco by Bus: Express bus (3 hours) from Arco do Cego Station in Lisbon.

  • from Lisbon to Castelo Branco by Car: There is a motorway all the way from Lisbon Airport to Castelo Branco with approximate driving time being 2 hours 15 minutes.

    Train and Bus Schedule from Lisbon to Castelo Branco: http://www.hascoll.dk/Intercultural/course2_how_to_travel.htm
Travel to Castelo Branco from Porto:

From Porto: You may also fly to Porto Airport, which is currently served by discount carrier Ryanair from London Stanstead, making connections possible from various cities throughout Europe.

  • from Porto to Castelo Branco by Bus: The bus journey takes approximately 4 hours 30 minutes.

  • from Porto to Castelo Branco by Train: The train journey takes approximately 5 hours.

  • from Porto to Castelo Branco by Car: The roads between Porto and Castelo Branco are a combination of both motorway and national roads. Total driving time is approximately 3 hours.

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