On our return trip to Portugal we decided to stay in several historic properties run by Pousadas de Portugal.We stayed in a monastery, a castle and a palace, each offering a unique experience and providing an insight into the history of Portugal.
Our first Pousada was Mosteiro de Guimares, a 12th.century Augustinian Monastery. The property was truly magnificent with its stone cloisters and courtyards.
This is the Great Hall with its soaring oak ceiling, beautiful antique furnishings and paintings.
I was very impressed with the many comfortable sitting rooms, so warm and inviting, you could wile away many hours here.
I am always entranced by the stunning tiles in Portugal and these 18th. century Johannine tiles, leading to the pool area were no exception.
Beautiful, peaceful gardens are always a must for me to explore.
The city of Guimaraes is a pretty small city in the north of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage site .
Our second property was Castelo de Estremoz , perched on the hill overlooking the town of Estremoz in the Alentejo region. The castle was built for Queen Santa Isabel in the 13th. century. After her death in 1336 it was used as an ammunition dump , resulting in an inevitable explosion in the late 16oo’s that destroyed much of the palace and castleo. Some rebuilding took place in the 18th. century and it was used as an armoury.
Grand lounge areas with antique furniture , a comfortable bar lounge with views over the city, a breakfast room and the huge , elegant dining room all make you feel you are in another era.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner of local produce accompanied by a couple of glasses of wine from this region.
Estromez and its neighbouring towns Borba and Vila Vicosa are known for their marble quarries, said to rival Carrara in Italy. The marble is all around , used as cobbles in the streets giving a soft pink glow. Marble from this area is exported world wide.
Our final night in Portugal was enjoyed at the stunning Palacio de Estoi , a restored 18th. century Rococco style palace set in French style formal gardens, in the Algarve region.
The reception area, public areas , bar and dining room are in the restored palace and the accommodation is in a separate new modern wing. The rooms are large and beautifully appointed .
If you are visiting Portugal and enjoy a touch of luxury in historical surroundings I would highly recommend staying in a Pousada. Prices , by Australian standards , are very reasonable .
They always include a generous buffet breakfast and free onsite parking. I found the staff very helpful and welcoming, always eager to provide sightseeing tips and pass on local knowledge.