Discover the Historic Villages of Portugal

Things to do in the North of Portugal
There's more to Portugal than golden beaches and fantastic golf courses!

If you want to explore the very heart and soul of the country, with scenic landscapes, historic buildings and fortresses, then you need to head for the historic villages of this beautiful country.

Portugal villages are one of the country's best kept secret so whilst many tourists head for the beaches, you can find peace and tranquility as well as some amazingly beautiful villages, which are very much part of over 900 years of Portuguese history.

Many of these historic villages of Portugal are perched high on the hilltops and played a crucial role in protecting the landscape that surrounds them and for centuries. They acted as a highly effective defense against any raiders who tried, but subsequently failed, to approach them without detection.

Here is a look at some of the historic villages of Portugal that you may want to take in as part of a cultural, as well as historical, tour of the Portuguese landscape.

Castelo Novo

The village takes its name from the 12th century castle which was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1755. On your visit to Castelo Novo you will find the medieval town hall in the Largo da Bica, which has a number of unique and even curious features, including a stunning 18th century baroque fountain. Directly behind the town hall, you will find the old castle donjon, casting a shadow over the village as though it were a giant sun dial. Look out for the Lagariça, which is an enormous tank cut into the rocks, which for many centuries was used for treading grapes in order to make wine.


Located on a remote and rocky hillside, Marialva was inhabited as long ago as the 6th century BC and was an important military fortress in the middle ages. A walk through the streets of Marialva is like taking a step back in time and the ancient walls and gothic style doorways create a distinctly medieval atmosphere. There a is a 16th century parish church close to the town square and if you have your walking boots on, head up the hill to the stalwart castle which is one of the largest in the region.


The serene orderly appearance of the houses that form the village, which lies on a curve in the road, is only briefly interrupted by the deep blue paint used on the windows and doors. This is understood to have been the only colour used as it was all the local shop had, which was the only place to sell paint for many miles around. It has an interesting history in that the village holds a hidden position at the foot of the mountains, so Piodão used to be a popular hideout for fugitives.


There is no mistaking the historical roots of the village of Sortelha, as it has managed to preserve many medieval features and is home to many rustic granite houses, which sit in the shadow of an imposing castle. Gothic features abound in this historic village and all of the houses, which are made of granite and are mainly single-storey dwellings, are built on rock, meaning they effortlessly blend into the topography of the terrain. You get a real sense of the history and importance from the village when you stand in the centre of Sortelha.

Next time you are looking at Portugal holidays, take the time to discover the historic villages of Portugal and enjoy an altogether different experience in this wonderful country!

Author Bio: Melissa Nash is a travel consultant with a penchant for Portugal. Her articles mainly appear in travel blogs and magazines.

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