Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques, captured Palmela from the Moors in the mid-12th century after a surprise attack on the King of Badajoz. Its past strategic importance is evident given that the views from here are astounding, taking in vast expanses of farmland, the Sado estuary to the south and even Lisbon to the north.
Palmela lies at the heart of one of Portugal’s richest wine growing regions, reflected in the lively local annual festivities and the wines of this region have achieved international awards in several festivals like Bordeaux's.
What to do in Palmela:
- Castelo de Palmela: You cannot come to Palmela without a visit to the famous Palmela Castle. Originally a Moorish stronghold, with magnificent views on a spur of the Serra da Arrábida, the castle was constructed following the reconquest in the 12th century and remains a solid example of fine military architecture of the time. A monastery was also added to house the faithful of the Order of Santiago, and it is this part that has been painstakingly transformed into possibly Portugal’s most desirable pousada.
- Festa das Vindimas: Taking place on the first Sunday of September to celebrate the wine harvest, the town’s annual wine harvest festival (Festa das Vindimas) is one of the liveliest occasions in the region.
- Arrábida National Park: Palmela is also an excellent base for exploring the natural assets of the Arrábida National Park where ancient forests contain much wildlife and the secluded monastery.
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