Tranquility, peace, calm. The Historical Villages of Portugal offer more than a moment away from the bustle of the cities and the clamor of our lives: Here we go on incredible trips through time, where we discover our country’s origins.
In Idanha-a-Velha, we learn about the tragic legend of the last King of the Visigoths, King Wamba, who reigned over Egitânia (as Idanha-a-Velha was known at the time) between the years of 672 and 680. King Wamba lived in a Castle at the Gates of Ródão (which is still known today as King Wamba’s Castle), on the north shore of the Tagus River. On the other side, the south shore, a Moor King ruled.
King Wamba’s Queen and the Moor King fell in love. Taking advantage of the King’s absence during hunts and battles, they courted by sitting in stone chairs, each one on their side of the Tagus River. Lovesick, the Moor King decided to dig a tunnel that would pass under the Tagus to rescue his love. But he had miscalculated and the tunnel ended in the southern embankment, above sea level. Regardless, the Moor King was able to escape with the Queen to his Castle.
However, King Wamba discovered the betrayal and directed himself towards the Moor Castle, disguised as a beggar. The Queen recognized him and denounced him to the Moor King, who ended up imprisoning him. Knowing that he was knocking on death’s door, King Wamba asked for only one wish: To blow into the horn that he carried with him. But this was, after all, the signal that his soldiers were waiting for in order to storm the Moor Castle and bring the Queen back.
Upon returning to Egitânia, the Queen was tried in court and sentenced, by the King’s order, to be tied to a millstone and rolled onto the embankment into the Tagus. Furious, before the sentence was executed, the Queen cursed that Land – and the fact remains that no more vegetation grew wherever the millstone with the queen had passed.
Just as in the other Historical Villages, in Idanha-a-Velha, these and other stories about Visigothic, Moor, and Christian kings are told. The Historical Villages of the Beira Alta region are rich in History, due to the various peoples that passed through there. In fact, Idanha-a-Velha emerged from a city founded by Romans that later became an episcopal center under Swabian and Visigothic rule. It was occupied by Muslims in the 8th century and regained by the Christians in the 12th century. In the 13th century, it was donated to the Knights Templar. Therefore, the notable combination of ruins and traces from several eras and peoples that meet in this Historical Village is not strange, becoming a place that has risen to prominence in the country’s archeological stations.
In Idanha-a-Velha, there is, for example, one of the largest and most representative Roman epigraphic collections of the country, gathered in various phases of the country’s archeological exploration. The Epigraphic Archive, located in the backyard of the village’s oil mill, includes 86 pieces, making up a total of 210 gathered specimens through an interactive trajectory where technology explains and contextualizes the exhibited pieces.
This village full of mysticism is definitely worth discovering, where so many people lived and fell in love – from where we emerge, also enamored with the charm of a place preserved from the madness of the modern world…