Situated on the slopes of
the Serra da Esperanca in the Beiras region of Portugal is the splendid Belmonte Pousada Belmonte.
Belmonte is famous as the birthplace
of Pedro Alvares Cabral, the great Portuguese explorer who discovered Brazil
in 1500. It is reported that he found it by accident. He was on his way
to round the Cape of Good Hope in Africa when he was blown off course by
a storm and landed in Brazil.
The trade with Brazil brought
great wealth to Portugal until its independence in 1822. One of the laws
was that all trade between Europe and Brazil must first pass through Portugal
which enabled the rich traders to build the magnificent houses and Palaces
which are a feature of the country.
Cabral was born in the castle
which was his family residence and is buried next to the 13th Century Church
of Sao Tiago near the castle walls.
The small town of Belmonte
has one of the largest Jewish communities in Portugal numbering about 120 families.
During the 'Inquisition'
many Jews emigrated from Portugal and those who stayed had to pretend that
they had converted to Christianity. This repression lasted until the downfall
of the dictatorship in 1974 and now they can be open about their religious beliefs.
The old Convento de Nossa
Senhora da Esperanca (Our Lady of Hope), in which the Belmonte Pousada is was built with an endowment from the estate of Jorge Cabral who
was a great nephew of the Explorer.
Pousada Belmonte has been fully renovated
and modernised and, in 2000 opened as a member of the Pousada Group.
The accommodation comprises
1 suite, 1 superior and 22 standard bedrooms all with ensuite bathroom, hair dryer, bathing gowns, air conditioning, cable television, telephone, locker and minibar.
Facilities include swimming pool, restaurant, bar, terrace, free wireless internet access in the public areas and parking. There are also conference / meeting facilities.
Dining in Portugal is usually
very good and the restaurants of the Pousada group are no exception.
They offer a variety of dishes including a selection of local and regional specialities.
Various activities can be
organised by reception in the surrounding countryside. These include fishing,
country walks, horse riding and tours in four wheel drive vehicles.
About 29 kms away is the
town of Manteigas which has various festivals taking place between 17 and 23 August.
The Natural Park of Serra de Estrela is within easy reach, being the highest area
in Portugal there is some skiing in winter. The villages, many of roman
origin, are situated on lower ground around the plateau. On higher ground,
the traditional mountain agriculture based on the herding of sheep and goats is continued.
The international airport
at Porto (Oporto) is approximately 227 kilometers from this Pousada of Portugal.