Montalegre Guide | Portugal Visitor

Montalegre Guide | Portugal Visitor

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Montalegre – Gateway to Peneda-Gerês

Montalegre

The Castelo de Montalegre in Montalegre commands the surrounding plain from an elevation of 980 meters

Montalegre is a small town of around 10,000 people in the Trás-os-Montes region of northern Portugal. Montalegre is about 10 km south of the Spanish border and 36 km west of the larger, spa town of Chaves.

The Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal’s only national park is a short drive to the west. Montalegre makes for a convenient gateway to explore the park and its areas of natural beauty.

The Castelo de Montalegre.
The stout walls of Castelo de Montalegre (Montalegre Castle)

History

Being close to the border with Galicia, Montalegre has long been of strategic importance. Medieval castles were built in Gerês, Piconha, Portelo and Montalegre itself to form a line of defence against attacks from the north.

The surrounding countryside makes for great walking and hiking and scattered here and there are several Celtic castros – hill forts – some of them later occupied by the Romans. Evidence of an Islamic presence in the area is scarce, but legend has it that the Moors were present this far north.

Portugal’s first king Afonso Henriques established a number of monasteries, hospitals and hospices in the wider region during his reign.

The main attraction in Montalegre itself is the 14th century castle which was built during the reign of D. Dinis (1279-1325). The square-shaped Castelo de Montalegre consists of four towers connected by walls. Within the walls are the remains of a cistern, the tall keep and a small museum explaining the history of the site. The town subsequently grew around the castle mainly to the east and south.

The medieval Igreja do Castelo de Montalegre close to the castle was once the main church of the town. It is notable for its bell tower which is separate from the main church building.

The Ecomuseum de Barroso – Espaço Padre Fontes is now dedicated to the various traditional arts and local crafts as well as the agricultural practices of the surrounding region. There are also exhibits relating to the fauna and flora of nearby Peneda-Gerês National Park and a museum craft shop. The space also presents various temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

Further south of the castle stands the Igreja da Misericórdia. The church has a plain exterior and a single nave. Nearby is the historic pelourinho or pillory – a symbol of medieval authority.

The Town Hall (Câmera Municipal) dates from the early 19th century though much renovated in the 1870s and 80s.

The historic pillory in Montalegre.
The historic pillory in Montalegre
The Igreja da Misericórdia.
The Igreja da Misericórdia

There are several places of interest within easy reach of Montalegre including the village of Boticas known for its vinho dos mortos (“wine of the dead”), wine that is routinely buried underground for around two years. The practice dates from the French occupation from 1807-1809 when the villagers buried their wine in the sandy soil to avoid it being taken by the French and then found to their surprise it tasted better when they dug it up. Boticas is just over an hour south on the bus to Chaves.

Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Peneda-Gerês National Park

Montalegre Tourist Office

Montalegre Tourist Office
Rua Misericórdia
Montalegre, Portugal

Getting to Montalegre

Train Travel in Portugal

Montalegre is not connected to the Portuguese rail network.

Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Alto Rabagão Dam, Peneda-Gerês National Park – the dam is operated by the Companhia Portuguesa de Produção de Electricidade (CPPE)
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business.
Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business
Casa Santa Catarina, Montalegre, Portugal.
Casa Santa Catarina, Montalegre, Portugal

Car Travel in Portugal

The A24 motorway connects Chaves south to Viseu, Coimbra and Figueira da Foz. The N103 branches off the A24 west towards Peneda-Gerês National Park. The M308 heads north from the N103 to Montalegre.

Bus Travel in Portugal

Montalegre is served by both Transdev and Internorte. The bus station is southeast of the centre off Rua General Humberto Delgado.

Montalegre has bus connections to Braga (2 hours, 20 minutes), Chaves (1 hour, 40 minutes) and Vila Real changing buses in Chaves (4 hours, 20 minutes).

Portugal Hotel & Hostel Accommodation

Montalegre has several places to stay including the excellent Casa Machado, the holiday home A House in the Castle Hill, the homestay Os Franciscos, the guesthouse Casa Avó Chiquinha and the Casa da Urze Gerês south of the scenic village of Pitões das Junias.

See here for a full listing of hotel accommodation in Montalegre.

Featured Hotel

Casa Avó Chiquinha, Rua Corujeira 634, 5470-219, Montalegre, Portugal.

Book this hotel

Casa Avo, Montalegre, Portugal.
Casa Avó Chiquinha, Montalegre, Portugal

Book Hotel Accommodation in Montalegre

Hotels in Portugal – Booking.com

Hotels in Montalegre – Booking.com

Hotels in Portugal – Agoda

Eating

Montalegre has a number of recommended restaurants serving the local cuisine which is known for its smoked ham (presunto) and fumeiros (smoked meats). The annual Feira do Fumeiro e Presunto de Montalegre takes place over four days in late January and has been going strong since 1992.

Try Tasca do Açougue near the castle or Taverna do Mercado.

Drinking

Disco Pub A Noite or Café Bar América.

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Internet

WiFi is available in nearly all hotels in the area.

The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
Get more weather information for Portugal

Map



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