Vila Viçosa

A quiet town with a moated castle, Vila Viçosa is in the heart of the fertile Borba Plain. It has been closely linked with Portuguese royalty since the 15th century. Court life in Vila Viçosa flourished in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when the huge palace constructed by the fourth Duke of Bragança (Jaime) was the scene of great royal feasts, theater performances, and bullfights. Today Vila Viçosa is a pleasant, bustling town that remains affluent because of its ties to the region’s wine industry and marble quarries. Most residents still live in the town center, and it’s less touristy and untainted by shopping malls and suburban sprawl that have cropped up on the edges of other provincial towns. The huge Praça da Republica, lined with orange trees and anchored by a castle on one end and a 17th-century church on the other, is one of the finest squares in all of Alentejo.

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