Castelo Novo is a Portuguese parish in the municipality of Fundão and is located in the middle of Serra da Gardunha, on a hillside that looks more like a natural amphitheatre, in shades of green from the vegetation and grey from the houses and castle.
The known archaeological remains suggest occupation of the territory since the chalcolithic, projecting itself in a growth of testimonies that refer to the ages of Bronze and Iron and are consolidated in the Roman colonization.
Castelo Novo is part of the Historical Villages of Portugal Network, which promotes the tourist development, of which Almeida, Belmonte, Castelo Mendo, Castelo Rodrigo, Idanha-a-Velha, Linhares da Beira, Marialva, Monsanto, Piódão, Sortelha and Trancoso are also part.
Here we can not only get lost in the streets of the village but the view from the castle seems to us to be involved in the history of other times. The granite that carves the houses, the sidewalks and the squares harmonize a whole unique heritage.
Castelo Novo began as one of the many territories donated by the Portuguese monarchs to the Order of the Knights Templar, the Order of Christ, to promote and secure the possession of the domains conquered from the Muslims in the 13th century.
The Castle, at 650 meters of altitude, is the central point that seems to organize the whole village by the slope of Serra da Gardunha to which it gave life, in a circular perimeter, evolving the stain to the South, East, and West.
The streets look like labyrinths and the blocks are irregular, of variable dimensions and shapes. The colorful tone of all those granite lines contrasting with an intense blue sky makes us want to transport to another time.
WHAT TO SEE IN CASTELO NOVO VILLAGE
Antigo Paços do Concelho | Former Council Chambers
Dating from the 16th century, it is located in the Largo do Município, in the center of Castelo Novo, and is part of the memory of the times when Castelo Novo was the seat of the Municipality.
It was built by D. Dinis, possibly in the year 1290, and then underwent remodeling works by order of D. Manuel I in order to mark the attribution of a new charter to Castelo Novo, thus including in the building the royal weapons, the cross of the Order of Christ and the armillary sphere.
On the ground floor, the prison would be located and on the first floor, the chamber would function, until the year 1835, when the county was extinct and annexed to Alpedrinha.
Pelourinho | Pillory
Dating from the 16th century, it marks the elevation to the municipality of Castelo Novo.
Manueline in style, it is decorated with vegetal motifs allusive to the maritime expansion, crowned by a pine cone shot where the royal coat of arms and the king’s personal insignia are carved.
It was here that the sentences were read, the punishments were applied and the criminals were displayed in a public square.
Torre do Relógio | Clock Tower
Built-in the second half of the 15th century it separated the original wall into two segments, the first, facing east, dates back to the medieval building of the castle, while the second section, facing south, will have been partially destroyed during the reign of D. Fernando, during the wars with Henry II (1369-1379) and John I (1379-1390) kings of Castile and Leon, a phase in which the fortification was temporarily abandoned.
It functioned as a watchtower (the castles of Idanha-a-Nova, Monsanto and Penamacor were visible), allowing the military garrison to protect more effectively the angle formed by the two wall planes from the upper platform.
Igreja Matriz, Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Graça | Mother Church
The Mother Church of Castelo Novo, also known as Nossa Senhora da Graça Church – the patroness of Castelo Novo, is located in Largo do Adro and dates from the 18th century, possibly 1732. Oriented to the west, inside there are two side chapels; the one on the right, with a Holy Trinity, and the one on the left, with Christ, crucified.
On the side altars of the triumphal arch, Our Lady of Fatima and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It is also possible to see some images of artistic interest, namely that of Our Lady of the Mountain, from the Cabeço da Penha.
Castelo | Castle
Located at the top of the historical village, in the castle, you will find a series of footbridges and other structures that make the visit easier.
Estimating its construction probably in 1202, of the military architecture only one quadrangular tower remains.
Recently, between 2002 and 2004, three campaigns of archaeological excavations in the castle were developed as part of the Historical Villages of Portugal Programme, which uncovered hundreds of traces of its medieval occupation, between its construction in the 12th century and its abandonment around the 17th century. Portuguese coins from the reigns of D. Sancho I (1169-1210) to that of D. João III (1521-1557), metal pieces in iron and copper, ceramic pieces, among others that can be appreciated in the Museological Nucleus of Castelo Novo, on the premises of the old Town Hall, requalified as an archaeological historical museum.
Torre de Menagem | Keep
It was concluded in 1205, the year in which Pedro Guterres and his wife Ausenda Soares gave the Order of the Temple a third of the castle in their will. This structure constituted the last defensive stronghold of the fortification.
It is possible to climb to the top of the ruins of the Keep to contemplate the magnificent view over the whole village of Castelo Novo and the Serra da Gardunha.
The lagariça is an old wine press with origins in the 7th and 8th centuries built directly on a large rock near the castle and is the testimony of the first wine cultures and practices in the region.
The Lusitanos, people of centuries-old Celtic traditions who lived here produced fermented beer from barley. The Romans introduced wine culture on a large scale and Lagariça was a legacy of those times.
Composed of two sinks, the largest serving to tread the grape, and the smallest, used to collect the must (grape juice).
Chafariz da Bica | Bica Fountain
The Bica Fountain, located in Largo da Bica, in the center of Castelo Novo, dates from the 14th century and has a baroque influence. It was built during the reign of D. Dinis.
It is possible that you will find a warning by the fountain that its waters are not controlled, but the truth is that the inhabitants of the village and those who visit it cannot resist quenching their thirst with their freshwater and I myself watched a couple who filled a few demijohns there.
The access by stairs is decorated with some rhodilhões where the horses were tied, already the fountain has a common rectangular back, two pilasters, topped by a beveled Latin cross and the coat of arms of D. João V.
Cabeço da Forca | Head of the Force
Made up of two irregularly shaped granite blocks, the Cabeço da Forca is located on the left side of the climb to the center of the historic village of Castelo Novo.
In the upper stone, it is still possible to see, carved in relief, two skulls accompanied by a game of tibias. An arrow-shaped sign is also visible, and an open rectangular hole. These holes still visible are where the structure of the gallows where the criminals were punished for their crimes rested.
Although there are stairs to climb the granite blocks, the view from above is in no way enhanced by their height to the ground.
As was done all over the country, a cruise to commemorate the III Centenary of the Restoration and the VII National Independence was also built in Castelo Novo in 1940, setting a pattern commemorating the two heroic dates.
Miradouro das Alminhas
On the right side of the road up to the center of Castelo Novo is the Miradouro das Alminhas (Alminhas belvedere) and is the ideal point to enjoy the magnificent view over the Serra, the Ribeira de Alpreade and the ruins of the old wool factory.
Praia Fluvial de Castelo Novo | Castelo Novo River Beach
The river beach of Castelo Novo is right at the entrance of the village, on the right side of the bridge.
It is bathed by the waters of the Ribeira de Alpreade and there they are retained by means of sluices. And although it is not large, it is sufficient to have 4 different depths so it can be used by everyone.
There is also a small support bar with esplanade, and lawn for those who want to sunbathe.
PARTIES AND EVENTS IN NEW CASTLE
Party in honor of S. Brás: 1st Sunday of February
Feast of Our Lady of the Mountain: Monday after Easter
Feast of the Lord of Mercy: 1st weekend in September