Centrally located along Portugal’s eastern border with Spain is the city and region of Portalegre.  The tiny town has just over 15,000 inhabitants, and its old world history in unblemished.  The additional draw to make Portalegre a stop is for its natural beauty, for it lies upon a protected national forest.

The Serra de Sao Mamede Natural Park is home to rare birds of prey. To help with the bird watching, five separate pedestrian trails cover lots of terrain in the park.  The terrain varies from rolling hills to low mountains (highest peak is just over 1,000 meters above sea level.)  The symbol for the park, the Bonelli eagle, can be seen at the park.

The park’s flora is just as eclectic, featuring plants indicative to the Mediterranean climate of Portalegre, with an Oceanic climate on mountaintops.  Oak trees of multiple varieties flourish in the park, with sweet chestnuts, olives, and eucalyptus patches throughout the area.

In the city proper, Portalegre provides many scenic vistas and attractive buildings.  Among these are:

Portalegre Conservatory:  Located in the historic old part of town, the conservatory features flying buttress supports, which connect to other nearby buildings.

Convent of Santa Clara:  Founded in 1376 and constructed where a royal palace previously occupied, the cloisters retain the original Gothic architecture.  The convent has since been converted to a public library.

Castelo de Portalegre:  Located atop the highest point in the city, this castle was thoroughly renovated in the 13th and 14th centuries to accommodate royal living and protection.  Some of the defensive walls still surround the castle.

The weather in Portalegre is typical Mediterranean weather, complete with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.  Summertime highs easily reach 30 degrees Celsius, with evening lows a comfortable 17.  January temperatures reach a mild 12 degrees for the January high and a cool five degrees Celsius at night.

Consider car hire at Lisbon Airport which services the city of Portalegre. The airport is approximately 155 kilometres from the city’s centre, which means that you should seriously consider hiring a car in the area.

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