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Penela



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From the towers of the solid castle of Penela, built in 1087 by the governor of Coimbra as part of the Mondego valley line of defenses, dazzling views can be admired over the small town and the wooded slopes of the Serra da Lousã mountains.

Within the castle's thick walls, the Chapel of Saint Michael dates from the 15th century; this saint also gives name to one of Penela's two parishes, which grew around the church; the other is Saint Euphemia, exhibiting a 16th-century church with a fine doorway and a Roman capital used as a font.

Still in the county, the pleasant village of Espinhal, at the foot of the Serra do Amparo mountains, lies amidst fertile fields of corn, potatoes and olives and the nearby stream of Azenha is rich in trouts and offers curious sites, such as Pedra da Ferida, a 25 metre waterfall where visitors can still see old water-mills working.

At about five kilometres from the town of Penela, the village of Rabaçal is famous for its delicious cheeses, made with a mixture of sheep and goat milk; the secret of this regional speciality is said to be a herb which grows abundantly on the pastures during Spring: the «Saint Mary herb».

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