City of Beja

Medieval Mystique and Modern Comforts at Beja, Portugal

Castles, convents, churches mark the town of Beja as a romantic medieval destination. Coupled with modern venues and a legendary love story that is famously entrenched in the town’s history, exploring this capital city in the Alentejo region of Portugal can be a truly unforgettable experience.

The historic role of Beja, Portugal

The breathtaking landscape of Beja is witness to the historic events that happened in the area. The city is located on a hilltop, and this strategic military location made it a contested place ever since the Celtic times. Its rich copper mine is also another reason why various populations inhibited the town over the centuries, but it is said that it was Julius Ceasar who declared it as a regional capital.

Beja flourished during the medieval times, and this can be seen in the rich evidence of architecture that best exemplifies the period. Entering Beja, visitors can already see the hilltop castle, one of the oldest and most imposing structures in the city. Built in the 13th century, its most prominent feature is the Torre de Managem, a striking tower that rises 36 meters high. Visitors can climb inside the tower, a 183 step ascent that rewards them with an outstanding panoramic view of the city.

Behind the castle is the Visigothic Basilica of Santo Amaro. Impressively more ancient as parts of it were built in the 6th century, the foliages and geometric motifs are still strikingly visible. Today, it is a museum that houses art and artifacts from the Visigoths, German settlers that once occupied the region. Visitors will have an interesting time viewing the weapons, potteries, and even tombstones that are displayed in the small museum.

The love story of Beja, Portugal

Perhaps, the most popular structure in the city is the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Convent. The 15th century convent is an important and influential religious center during its time. Its remarkable blend of different architectural styles and movement mirror the cultural influences that mark Portugal – imposing Gothic structure with Manueline windows and a Baroque chapel.

Aside from its outstanding architecture, the convent is a famous landmark because of a 17th century love affair that continues to intrigue people today. It is said that a convent nun once fell in love with a French count, but the ill-fated affair left the noun heartbroken. Devastated, the nun wrote passionate love letters, which were published in 1699 in Paris and has then been translated into several languages and inspired other artistic, literary and academic works. Since then, the love story added a romantic appeal to the convent and to the whole town in general.

The convert has been converted into the Regional Museum, where again, the evidence of Portugal’s associations with various cultures are displayed. The museum showcases a unique lineup of paintings, ancient stones, and porcelain from Portuguese, Romans, Visigoths, Dutch, and Chinese artists.

The modern comforts of Beja, Portugal

The mystique of a monastery can be experienced by visitors who choose to stay overnight in Beja. Guests can stay at the São Francisco Pousada, located in a former 13th century Franciscan convent. It is now converted into a modern hotel and leisure complex, complete with dining and lifestyle amenities.

Getting there

Beja, Portugal can be reached via western Algarve ad Lisbon by train, or by bus from eastern Algarve and Evora.

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