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Castelo Branco

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Castelo Branco
Vila de Rei
Vila Velha de Ródão
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Those who visit Castelo Branco may observe two distinct areas: the ancient Medieval town, with its steep and narrow streets where many Manueline doorways can still be admired, and a great modern zone, characteristic of a developing city.

Castelo Branco rises on the slope of a hill that dominates a plateau region; thus its historical function as a defensive fortress which is confirmed by the castle, from where one can view a panorama that stretches until the frontier and the slopes of the Serra da Gardunha mountains, overlooking the upper course of the river Tagus.

However, the city's main attraction are the extraordinary Bishop's Palace gardens, created in the 18th century by bishop João de Mendonça. Of formal layout, its singularity lies in the abundant granite statues which can be seen between the box groves, lining stairways or contemplating their reflection in the lake's waters: of Baroque style, they represent saints and apostles, kings, lions, the signs of the Zodiac...

Still worth visiting are the Bishop's Palace itself, which now lodges the Proença Júnior Museum (archaeological finds, 16th-century tapestries, etc.), the Religious Art Museum, the handsome Cruzeiro de São João (15th-century stone cross) and the old town.

In terms of gastronomy, the region's cheese is well known, and the handicrafts include the famous bedspreads of Castelo Branco, artistic embroideries of fine silk on natural linnen, with motifs reflecting a characteristic symbology.

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