The moon in first quarter and five stars compose the emblem of Linhares da Beira. As expected, there is a story behind this unusual choice of symbols…
Legend has it that in the beginning of the Portuguese monarchy, precisely during the reign of D. Sancho I, in 1198, an army of Leo Sgouros’s forces entered through lands in the Beira region. After taking some castles along the way, they prepared themselves to take the one in Celorico. It was then that D. Rodrigo Mendo, alcaide of the castle in Linhares, went on to defend his brother, D. Gonçalo Mendo, alcaide of the castle in Celorico. On a night with a new moon, illuminated by its light and the stars, the two brothers and their men won against Leo’s forces, which retreated. This event was so important – where two brothers managed to fend off an invading army from their country – that Linhares adopted a moon in first quarter and five stars as its emblem, as it remains today.
The epic battle from this legend would have been just one of many that occurred in Linhares da Beira during a time when the borders of our country were being defined. Due to its strategic location, guardian of the Mondego Basin and rearguard of the border line, Linhares was very important in defending the borders of the Portuguese kingdom, at least until the 17th century.
The origins of Linhares date back to medieval times. The village received its charter in 1169, by D. Afonso Henriques, and most of its buildings are attributed to that period, despite records indicating that Linhares had been occupied by Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims.
The Castle of Linhares da Beira is the most expressive example of medieval buildings in Linhares. As was the custom of the period, the Castle of Linhares da Beira was constructed in favor of the kingdom’s defense, over 800 m in altitude, mighty and watchful. Integrated into the fortress line of the border region, it was similar to the castles of Marialva and Trancoso, among others. It is composed of two towers, the Keep and the Watch Tower, and it became a National Monument in 1922. That’s why Linhares de Beira is a required stop for whoever visits the historical villages of our Beira Alta region.
But there is more to discover in this charming medieval village. It features, for instance, the Parish Church, a temple dedicated to Santa Maria that was already in existence in the 12th century, but it was D. João III (who reigned between 1521 and 1557) who dedicated it to Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Reformed in 1751, it presents traces of Baroque decoration, maintaining some primitive aspects such as the gate and the boarded archway on the North façade.
These are just some reasons to visit Linhares da Beira and the 12 Portuguese historical villages. You will discover more upon arrival, the main attraction being the levity and tranquility that you will feel instantly…