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Discover the wealth that lies hidden behind sober-looking façades in a two-day tour of southern Portugal, rounded off with trips to Madeira and the Azores.
Our itinerary begins in Setúbal with a visit to the Baroque Museum housed in the Casa do Corpo Santo. This palace, with its remarkable tiles, painted ceilings and a chapel lined with gilded woodcarvings, is a fine example of 17th and 18th-century civil architecture. Take the A6 in the direction of Vila Viçosa, but, if you can, make a small detour to Portalegre to appreciate the interior decoration of the Igreja de São Lourenço and the Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim. The town of Vila Viçosa is dominated by the imposing Palácio dos Duques de Bragança, whose museum has a remarkable collection of baroque treasures. We would like to highlight two exhibits in particular: a blue-and-white porcelain bottle decorated with the coat of arms of Filipe II of Spain, and the image of Child Jesus the Good Shepherd carved out of ivory.
Our next stop will be Évora, whose historic centre has been classified as World Heritage. Visit the great Gothic cathedral that has benefited from various donations at different times and in different styles. Its baroque chancel, composed of marble both inside and outside, contains some remarkable sculptures, paintings and gilded woodcarvings. Next we will move on to the Igreja de São Francisco, whose main attraction is its ossuary chapel, a small room where a most strange impression is caused by its decoration made entirely of human bones. After this, we move on to Viana do Alentejo, to visit the Santuário de Nossa Senhora de Aires, which stands out quite distinctly in the landscape – a magnificent example of rural baroque architecture.
The next day, our destination is Beja where we will begin by visiting the Museu Rainha Dona Leonor. Amongst its many valuable pieces, you should notice the Processional Altar of St. John the Evangelist, made of gilded woodcarvings, silver and precious stones. Also make sure to visit the Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres, whose exterior gives no hint as to the opulence that lies hidden within, with its rich decoration of gilded woodcarvings, tiles and mural paintings.
We will now continue on to the Algarve. The small sober-looking Igreja de Almancil has an interior that is completely covered with blue-and-white tile panels, with the gilded woodcarvings providing a beautiful contrast. Take a walk through the region and look for other examples of the baroque style, as, for example, the interiors of some of the churches in Tavira or the Igreja de Santo António in Lagos.
We recommend you add two or three days to this itinerary and travel to the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores. You can take a plane from Faro to Funchal, a city that, although perhaps best known for its natural beauty, also has a variety of artistic treasures. One of these is the Igreja de São Evangelista, exhibiting a blend between the Mannerist and baroque styles, where the exuberant interior decoration is a combination of carved and gilded altarpieces, tile panels and valuable paintings.
In the Azores, your destination should be the island of Terceira, more precisely the city of Angra do Heroísmo. The historic centre is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and has some remarkable monuments that it is worth taking some time to discover. The highlight from the baroque period is the Convento de São Gonçalo, a genuinely “golden church” with its beautiful decoration of gilded woodcarving. But you can also find other monuments in this style, such as the imposing Igreja da Misericórdia, whose colourful blue-and-white façade stands out amidst the urban landscape, or the Igreja do Castelo de São João Baptista, on the top of Monte Brasil. Our trip ends here, in this place linked to the golden age of Angra’s history in the 17th century, when it was an important port of call during the period of the Portuguese maritime discoveries.
Points of interest along the Itinerary /
Museu do Barroco
Museu-Biblioteca da Casa de Bragança - Paço Ducal e Castelo de Vila Viçosa
Igreja de São Lourenço
Sé de Évora
Igreja de São Francisco - Évora
Santuário de Nossa Senhora de Aires
Museu Regional Rainha D. Leonor - Beja
Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres - Beja
Igreja de São Lourenço de Almancil
Igreja de Santo António - Lagos
Igreja de São João Evangelista
Convento e Igreja de São Gonçalo
This veranda onto the Alentejo contains tens of white palaces framed in ochre yellow. The former monastery, with its magnificent art collection, is one of ...
The town of Beja
Caesar's Pax Julia, the name given to the town by the Romans, still has an unusually peaceful atmosphere. Beja towers over the surrounding Alentejo ...
While coloured trawlers bring in the fish, over in the Marina yachts from around the World are anchored. Signs of a longstanding relationship with the sea.
Travel round the island and discover living testimonies to the colonisation and history of the archipelago of Madeira, visiting museums, monuments and other ...
Angra do Heroísmo
A crossroads between the New World and the Old, Angra was the "universal port of call in the Western Sea".
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