At the top of a highland, the city of Trancoso stands proudly, on the border between the Serra da Estrela and the Douro valley, the Guarda district and the Viseu district.

Trancoso’s privileged location turned this place into a very important military strategic point, something that the castle and the walls that still surround the historical center does not let us forget. A stage for conflicts and battles between Christians and Muslims, the streets of Trancoso hold infinite stories, myths, and legends to this day…


One of the most curious legends told by the people of Trancoso is that of Iberusa Leoa, a beautiful, young Christian woman who lived in the city ruled by D. Afonso Henriques. At the time, the Muslims had just regained Trancoso, with a destructive fury that did not spare children, women, and the elderly. Headed by Omar, the Moor prince, the Muslims occupied the Castle and the village of Trancoso. Iberusa Leoa, fearing her fate at the hands of the Saracens, escaped and sought refuge in a cave. But it wasn’t long before she was found and captured by the Moors.

Locked in an exiguous room in the castle, where only a little bit of light entered through a slot in the wall, Iberusa rejoiced in silence when she saw that the troops of D. Afonso Henriques advance one day. She then called her prison guards, asking them to tell her what her fate was.  The four tall mastodons with closed countenances and violent eyes informed her that she would be decapitated on that very day. Iberusa cried for her life and asked the guards to keep her company while she dedicated her prayers to Nossa Senhora. In the hours that followed, the young, beautiful woman shared the miracles of her religion with her captors and enchanted them with Christ’s life. More and more interested, the prison guards let their guard down and asked for more stories. Meahwhile, the battle between Christians and Muslims raged on outside, favoring D. Afonso Henriques’s men more and more. The Moors were so distracted that D. Afonso Henriques ended up taking the castle. When the king found her, the pious Iberusa asked to spare the lives of her captors. The king answered her prayers, and Iberusa even informed him that she had promised the Virgin to build a chapel in that location if she were saved from the Moors. The promise was kept, and a church was built that went on to be named Nossa Senhora da Fresta. The Moors dedicated themselves to the agricultural life – and went on to be known as the converted Moors of Trancoso.

Resultado de imagem para igreja nossa senhora fresta

The Nossa Senhora da Fresta church, conserved to this day, is one Trancoso’s oldest churches and one of the most interesting points in this stunning location. Founded in the 17th century, the building conserves its primitive appearance. The exterior features the side doors, decorated with motifs in the region’s Roman-Gothic style. On the interior, the archway, decorated with half spheres, arabesques, among other motifs, and the fresco paintings of the apse from the 15th and 16th centuries stand out.


There is much to explore in Trancoso, one of the 12 historical villages of the Beira Alta region conserved in time. Among gorgeous chapels and churches, a center for Jewish culture (one of several peoples who passed through here and left their mark), it will be difficult to leave after getting to know this fascinating city…