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Sabugal



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Being a border region, thus suffering continuous attacks and sieges, it is not surprising that both Spanish and Portuguese kings built numerous strongholds here, and the county of Sabugal alone counts five castles: Alfaiates, Vilar Maior, Sabugal, Vila do Touro e Sortelha.

The latter (at about 20 kilometres from Sabugal) is enchanting: built in the 13th century, it offers stunning views over the countryside and has a 16th-century pillory with na armillary sphere on top in front of the arched castle entrance.

The historic village of Sortelha has gained the title of źmuseum-village╗ and is extremely well preserved with its stony lanes and granite houses (some have been turned into restaurants), besides the 16th-century church with a Mudejar ceiling.

Sabugal has its own castle with an unusual five-sided keep and imponent walls with towers.

The region is known for its fondness for bullfights (namely the local variation, called capeia, where everyone taunts the bull), and some of the villages' names reflect this enthusiasm, as is the case of Vila do Touro (Bull Town).

The nearby Serra da Malcata mountains include a natural reserve designed to protect some 20 square kilometres of forested wilderness and refuge of wolves, otters and valuable vegetable species, but it is specially known for being one of the last homes of the rare Iberian lynx (Lynx pardina), and there is a campaign to save this endangered species.

The region's gastronomy offers specialities such as wild boar, caldeirada de cabrito (kid stew) and coelho bravo (wild rabbit stew).

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