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Set at the foot of the Serra da Estrela mountains, Belmonte was for long the fiefdom of a noble family named Cabral, known for their bravery in battle; one of its members was the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, who discovered Brazil in 1500.

The family crest may be seen at the Castle, dating from 1266, which still preserves the original keep and a beautiful Manueline window sculpted in granite. Nearby, the 15th-century Cabrais Chapel lodges the family tombs.

The Romanesque church of Saint James, although small, is worth visiting due to its frescoes and a 13th-century granite pietà.

Belmonte has also been known as a Jewish town as the arrival and settlement of a large colony of Jews in the 13th century marked its history and traditions. They began by inhabiting a quarter known as Morocco and started being persecuted in 1496, when they were expelled from the country or converted by force. The community managed to survive over the centuries and has now a modern synagogue, inaugurated in 1997.

The county offers visitors the beautiful scenery of the river Zêzere valley, picturesque villages and ancient manor-houses, such as the wonderful Solar dos Quevedo Pessanha (17th century) and the Solar dos Condes de Caria (19th century), both at the village of Caria.

Another interesting site, just outside the town of Belmonte, is a Roman tower known as Centum Cellas, a square, three-storey construction dating from the 1st century AD.

In terms of gastronomy, Belmonte boasts of delicious dishes with kid (roast or stewed with bread and gravy), savoury smoked sausages and typical desserts, such as arroz-doce (rice pudding with cinnamon) and pudim de ovos (egg pudding).

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