Known as the Portuguese village where the largest Jewish community in the country settled, as well as the cradle of Pedro Álvares Cabral, Belmonte is a place with priceless historical value for our country, such are the stories that the walls keep…
One of the most curious stories told generation after generation is that of its emergence. They say that one day a Greek shepherd named Carámo, who took his sheep to the mountain slopes of Greece where the gods lived, and who had suffered a long time sleeping under the stars and living poorly, decided one day to build a house for himself. But he didn’t know where. It had to be a place where there was always pasture for the sheep, even during the winter. He then took off for Delfos, in search of an answer from the gods. They told him, “Follow your sheep. After a long journey, you will stop. You should build your house there.” The shepherd decided to heed the gods’ advice and followed the herd for years until they stopped at a mountain surrounded by green pastures, where the Zêzere river runs. He had finally arrived at Belmonte. Awestruck by the landscape and trusting in what the gods had told him, he took a stone from the mountain, which would become the first stone of the house he built – this was the beginning of Belmonte.
This is what legend tells us. History tells us, on the other hand, that human presence in the municipality of Belmonte dates back to prehistory and protohistory (Anta de Caria, Castros de Caria, and Chandeirinha proves this), and buildings such as the Centum Cellas Tower or the Villa da Quinta da Fórnea prove that the Romans also settled in this place.
Therefore, there is much to discover in the village that gave us one of the most valuable warriors of our History. The Centum Cellas Tower, for example, is one of the most interesting buildings in Belmonte. It is perhaps the Municipality’s most enigmatic monuments whose purpose has been the subject of much speculation throughout the years by numerous investigators: A temple, a prison, a Roman campsite, a boarding house for travelers to rest, or a Roman village. After excavations in the 90s, the Centum Cellas Tower proved to be a Roman village from the 1st century A.D., where the family of Lucius Caecilius had dedicated themselves to the agricultural and tin exploration that abounded in that region.
Visiting Belmonte is an unforgettable experience for discovering other peoples and cultures (Jewish and Roman, for example), but it is also a peaceful respite from hectic daily routines and cities that does us much good in the chaos of our times.