Estremoz, which lies on the ancient road that connected Lisbon with Mérida, Spain, has been a site of strategic importance since Roman times, and the castle, which overlooks the town, was a crucial one of the Alentejo's many fortresses.

Today Estremoz is a bustling rural hub that’s the seat of eastern Alentejo’s growing arts scene, as well as a military garrison town complete with sword-wielding guards outside the cavalry regiment’s headquarters across from the main park. Chock-full of history but not resting on its laurels, Estremoz is unfortunately often overlooked in favor of its more touristy sister city Évora, but it shouldn’t be. Make Estremoz your base for exploring this half of the Alentejo and you won’t be disappointed.

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