Description of Apartment/Location
Castelo de Vide
It is unclear when the first settlers occupied the territory of Castelo de Vide, although archaeologists suggest that the decision to occupy the land, came from the morphology of the soil and from a territorial strategy to occupy and conquered lands. The establishment of a fortification helped to fix a new population to the territory and, at the same, defend the nascent colony.
Writing in 1299, Rui de Pina stated that Castelo de Vide remained a weak stronghold, as he wrote "lugar etã mais chão q forte" (the locality is more place then strong). Afonso Sanches, son of king Afonso III, began to rebuild the walls, and his brother, king Denis continued the task, but it was ultimately completed during the reign of Afonso IV, sometime in the 14th century. These changes improved the defensive conditions of the stronghold, including moving a well into the interior and a new line of walls to protect the citadel and the houses outside the original walls. A tower keep was, also, constructed that was even with the southern walls, in order to better defend the southern passage. All these improvements came to ahead with the conflicts with Castille, when siege machine were used. A strategic border fortress, it was acquired in 1276 when Castelo de Vide became its own municipality. Until this time, the territory's settlements were part of Marvão.
Slowly, throughout the 14th century, the settlement expanded outside the castle walls.The southern flanks, with good southerly exposure and gentle slope, allowed easy settlement, while the northern and western exposures were expanded later, due to wind and steep cliff faces. The growth of the settlement occurred along the main road leading to the castle, and followed the expansion of religious buildings outside the walls.This road bisected two sides of the hill and one was occupied by a Jewish Quarter, inhabited by Jews expelled from Castile and Aragon.
Many of the perceptions of the town came from the 16th century drawings of Duarte d'Armas, who drew representations of the town. At that time, the settlement was dedicated to agriculture (cultivating vineyard, cotton, olives, fruits and cereals) and raising cattle, while watermills were constructed to mill along the ravines in Vide and Nisa.[At the end of the 15th century, and beginning of the 16th century, the wool industry obtained an importance in the region, at the end of King John III reign. This importance resulted in its inhabitants began to be referred to as the Cardadores; there were 885 inhabitants in 1527, but rose to 1400 by 1572 and 1600 by 1603. This growth was based in the growth in agricultural production, the textile industry and commerce with Spain. The new foral (charter), issued by King Manuel I in 1512, established new laws for public spaces and organized the towns specific limits.
The Alentejo region has a markedly Mediterranean climate, and the Serra de S. Mamede emerges as a climatic island with strong Atlantic influences, especially on the north-facing slopes. The orientation and altitude of the massif allow it to act as a moisture condensation barrier, leading to relatively high levels of precipitation and air humidity, as well as relatively low temperature values when compared to those in the surrounding region.
Out and About Locally
Serra de São Mamede
The Serra de São Mamede Natural Park includes the essence of the mountain range with the same name, the most important of the Alentejo reliefs. It is a space that, surprisingly, surprises us by the landscape diversity well expressed in the variety of its geology and the present floristic cast. The simple game of altitude and the varieties of exposure, turning north or south, are reflected in the vegetal cover that clearly mirrors the Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. Vegetation diversity is compounded by the presence of distinct communities of animals, with emphasis on birds of prey. Paleolithic populations, Arabs and Romans, medieval people, all left marks along a territory where agriculture was always the dominant activity.
Due to its geographic location (center and interior of the country) and to the presence of the mountain range, which suddenly erupts out of the Alentejo plain, the Serra de S. Mamede Natural Park presents a set of geological characteristics, and consequently edaphic and climatic , which give it a peculiar character and that are reflected in flora, vegetation cover and fauna. Thus, the natural factors, as well as the ancestral and continuous human presence that has been exerting significant modifications, contributed, in synergy, to a remarkable diversity of the natural and semi-natural species and communities.
In the Park there is a considerable floristic diversity, with about 800 species that here found ideal conditions for its growth and development, presenting features of Central European and Mediterranean nature and characteristics of Atlantic nature.
The areas covered with Quercus suber cork oak are predominant, and the Quercus pyrenaica oak cover is well represented. The holm oak Quercus rotundifolia, which occupied a large area on the edge of the mountain, occurs punctually in the mountain range, being restricted to places where edapho-xerophytic conditions allow it.
Other habitats may be identified, such as arborescent weeds, broadleaf and swamp legumes, riparian vegetation, wet and herbaceous annuals, rocky vegetation in frequent rocky outcrops (granitic, quartzite), semi-natural spots and abandoned farms and several anthropogenic zones, such as olive groves, chestnut trees and groves, pastures, pine forests and eucalyptus. Also noteworthy is the presence of relict and residual habitats, including small southern bogs, which occupy spaces on moist platforms, bottoms of valleys and borders of watercourses in gorges.
As far as the cultivated areas are concerned, while on the southern slopes crops of a Mediterranean character predominate, such as olive groves, vineyards and fig trees, on the slopes exposed to the north and in zones of altitude, the cherry tree, the chestnut tree Castanea sativ) the chestnuts between 500 and 700 m, the hazel nut Corylus avellana and the walnut Juglans regia.
It is thought that the Serra de S. Mamede will have originated in a lateral compressive movement of the geological layers, which will have caused the appearance of the extensive quartzite alignments that constitute the rocky crests that extend along the edge of the mountain in NW- SE.
These alignments, due to their resistance, present numerous failures, mainly in the N-S direction. The most evident is located in Castelo de Vide, visible mainly by the considerable distance between the ridges caused by new faults in a more or less perpendicular sense.
On the exterior of the quartzite surround are granites, while lithological materials of smaller granulometry, such as schists and limestones, constitute the nuclear zone of the Natural Park.
Most of the surface of the Park consists of shale, which extends practically from Castelo de Vide, through Escusa, Port of Espada and S. Julião, to the Spanish border near Rabaça. In this valley, as an indication of its limestone substrate, are the lime kilns of Escusa.
To visit in Castelo de Vide
16th Century Bridge - The Toll Granite Bridge, which crosses the Rio Sever, is one of the many "ex-libris" in the municipality of Marvão and can be considered as one of the most perfect road engineering works known in the Alentejo.Its location in the vicinity of the Roman City of Ammaia (parish of S. Salvador de Aramenha), together with the presence of Roman materials in its vicinity, has contributed to practically all authors consider it as a work of the Romans or of their time.
Museum and Roman City of Ammaia
Castle of Marvão
Outdoor Cave Paitings - At the southern limit of the Park, in the parish of Esperança, Arronches municipality, is located the most important set of outdoor cave paintings in Portugal. Outside or under the shelters, mostly natural, that open on the quartzite crests, several panels of paintings seem to reveal the consecration of this space by Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age communities.
Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Penha/ Hermitage of Our Lady of Penha - it was built in the 16th century. XVI. From it there is a vast panorama, where, in addition to the "aerial" view of singular beauty on the town of Castelo de Vide, you can see parts of the mountain range of S. Mamede to the south, territory of the neighboring Extremadura to this and, in the days of favorable luminosity, the Serra da Estrela to the north.
Synagogue Museum - is located in the old Jewish quarter of the city, next to the Castle.The Jewish quarter reached its zenith in the 15th century, after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. Nowadays, the synagogue has been transformed into a museum, being the main memory of that time.
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