Map of Vila Viçosa, Renaissance ducal townLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Vila Vicosa was a pleasant stop on our way from Lisbon airport to Elvas WHS. It is a pretty and small town with white houses as you can find dozens in Portugal, nothing special from that point of view. The main point of interest is the Renaissance ducal Palace, which large front side (more than one hundred meters long) stretches on one side of a wide, cobbled square, also bordered by churches and more white buildings.
Vila Vicosa was the hometown of the Dukes of Braganza, one of the most powerful and influential family in Portugal, and who eventually became the last reigning family of the country when Joao IV became king of Portugal. Almost 150 years before they took the throne, the ducal palace was already a clear manifesto of their power, built by Duke Jaime I at the very beginning of 16th century, as he wanted to get out of the old, medieval castle, which had been the home of his fathers. Front side of the palace has clear Renaissance style, while most of the rooms inside have been changed and refurbished over the centuries: mainly the global layout and the ceiling in few rooms survived. The visit is by guided tour only (for about 50 minutes), and in Portuguese. Luckily, our guide was excellent and was speaking very distinctly, so if you speak another Latin language, as we do, you are likely to understand most of the explanations. Those are mainly about portraits and object that belonged to the Braganza family, more than about the architecture and history of the palace itself. Our visit took place in October, and we were lucky to arrive a few minutes before 04:00 pm, just on time for the last tour of the day. So don’t be late.
After touring the palace, we walked through the walled part of the city, which lies at the top of a small hill about half a kilometer from the palace square, and is part of this TWHS as well, together with the palace. We saw nice city gates with round towers, visited a beautiful church, with inner walls covered by azulejos, and walked around the medieval castle. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Concepcion, who is the saint patron of Portugal since Joao IV. In less than one hour, we had seen it all.
We enjoyed our time in Vila Vicosa. The place is nice and interesting at the same time (we preferred by far the ducal palace to the Mafra palace that we visited few days after), but we could not really see any “outstanding universal value” in this town or in these buildings. This is clearly an important place for Portugal history, but probably does not worth a place on the WH list.
Includes former TWHS Chateau de Vila Vicosa (1982-1996)
2017 Added to Tentative List
The site has 2 locations