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Located in the Serra de São Mamede and near the border with Spain, Portalegre had a strategic position in defense of the territory during the Middle Ages.

King Afonso III (1248-79) donated it to his bastard son Afonso Sanches. This action was greatly contested by his brother D. Dinis (1279-1325), his successor, who in 1299 integrated it into the assets of the crown and ordered to rebuild the Castle.

Also in medieval times, the Franciscan religious order was established in Portalegre in the Convent of St. Francis and in the Convent of Santa Clara.

At the beginning of the XVI century, after the Misericórdia de Portalegre was founded, the Bishop of Guarda, D. Jorge de Melo, ordered the construction of the Cistercian Convent of St. Bernard. Recognized at that time as an important administrative and economic center, was elevated to the city by D. João III, who then created the Diocese of Portalegre and had the Cathedral built. The action of the new bishopric was affirmed in the construction of the Episcopal palace and the Diocesan Seminary, now transformed into a Municipal Museum.

The 17th and 18th centuries left in the city a strong baroque character that is still preserved in some monuments, such as the Church of St. Lawrence, and in the palatial houses of which the Yellow Palace, the Falcões Palace or the Achioli Palace are notable examples, preserving the coats of the families that inhabited them and a rich decoration in wrought iron, singular work in the region.

After the extinction of religious orders in 1834, and with the advent of the industrial revolution, the city endeavored to respond to progress by assigning new features to the old convents and palaces.

An example of this is the Convent of St. Augustine, transformed into a barracks of the GNR, the Convent of St. Bernard, the Jesuit Convent of St. Sebastian, occupied by the Manufacture of Tapestries of Portalegre or the Castel-Branco Palace, recently adapted to the Museum of Tapestry of Portalegre Guy Fino who recalls the contribution of the textile industry to the development of the city.

The Casa-Museu de José Régio, a Portuguese poet, also stands out. In the surroundings, it is important to point out the belvedere of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Penha and the Church of Bonfim, on the road towards Marvão and Castelo de Vide, places that also deserve a careful visit.

(source: www.visitportugal.com)

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