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Sernancelhe



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Located on a fertile region bathed by the river Távora and characterized by beautiful mountain sceneries and verdant valleys, Sernancelhe preserves a valuable legacy of monasteries, churches, manor-houses and pillories which reflect the county's rich and historic past.

At the granite heart of the town of Sernancelhe, the 12th-century Mother Church is one of the finest Romanesque monuments of the Beira region, embellished by a sculpted façade and arched portal and displaying religious art treasures inside.

It stands near the remains of an ancient castle, a 16th-century stone pillory, the Casa da Comenda de Malta (a 17th-century manor now adapted to accommodate tourists) and the grand Solar dos Carvalhos, a 17th-century mansion in the Baroque style.

Equally rich in monuments, the village of Fonte Arcada displays a beautiful Mother Church (of Romanesque origin, rebuilt in the 16th century), a stone pillory at the main square, the Paços da Loba (a stately house in granite from the 13th century) and the arched fountain after which the parish is named, probably dating from the 12th century.

Other sites worth admiring at the county are the Cistercian convent of Our Lady of Assumption (17th century), at Tabosa do Carregal, the Church and Fountain of Ferreirim (12th-13th centuries) and several stone pillories.

To the south of Sernancelhe, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lapa rises on the Serra da Lapa mountains and attracts crowds of pilgrims: according to a local story, Joana, a dumb girl, found a statue of the Virgin Mary and took it home; her mother, angry with her, threw it on the fire, but then the girl miraculously spoke and begged her not to burn it, for it was the Lady of Lapa; the 12th-century chapel at the shrine still shelters an image with a slightly scorched face.

At table, local sausages, cured ham, bôla de carne (a kind of bread dough layered with cured meats) and home-made rye bread preserve the traditional flavours of a county which is also known for producing excellent chestnuts.

Typical handicrafts include tinwork, wicker basketry and woven linen goods.

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