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Montemor-o-Velho



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All across the region, the scenery is dominated by the river Mondego, with fertile plains where rice-swamps stretch to meet the horizon, often threatened by the great floods that destroy everything.

The attractive and historic town of Montemor-o-Velho rises out of fields of rice and maize, crowned by the crennellated 14th-century castle (previously a Moorish stronghold), one of the largest and finest of Portugal.

The church of Santa Maria da Alcáçova stands within its walls: founded in 1090, it was restored in the 15th century and exhibits naves and arches in the Manueline style.

The church and cloister of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos has a 17th-century façade and a rich interior with Manueline and Renaissance influences; it lodges the tomb of the explorer Diogo de Azambuja (Columbus is said to have sailed with him along the West African coast), also in the Manueline style.

Montemor was the birthplace of Fernão Mendes Pinto (1510-83), famous for the colourful description of his travels in the far east.

The friendly and ancient town of Tentúgal has fine 16th and 18th-century houses (although it appears in documents from the 10th century) and is proud of its sweet specialities: Tentúgal pastries, queijadas (cheese-cakes) and suspiros (literally «sighs», small meringues).

From the Mother Church of Reveles a dazzling panorama of the region, with its fertile fields and the river, can be admired, and a little lower, on a small promontory over the Mondego, the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Saúde can be seen from sea and attracts the devotion of fishermen.

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