Occupied by romans, visigoths and arabs civilizations, Montemor-o-Velho is a Portuguese village that dates back to the Bronze Age. Its economic and geostrategic importance earned it an important role in the national history, especially during the christian reconquest, between the VII and the XI century. During the Moorish occupation, the village had the name of Munt Mallur. It was later called Monte Maior by the christians and at Sancho I reign, the king added to that name, O Velho (wich means “The Old”), because a new village, in Alentejo, with the same name, Montemor-o-Novo, had been conquered from the Moors.
Montemor-o-Velho has archaeological remains dating from roman times, including Senhora do Desterro place (where there was a roman villa and a necropolis; here the visitor can see some discovered brick graves, vaulted, and coins of the fourth century); the tombstone of Lúcio Cádio Cela, patent in Machado de Castro Museum, in Coimbra; the stone of Jupiter in the Chapel of Madalena and the blocks of stone re-employed at the base of the castle’s tower.
The Montemor’s castle had a general recovery in the XIV century. It’s the largest fortification of Mondego River area and one of the largests in the country. This castle played a decisive role in the fight for regain of the territory from the Moors. The two towers near the Nossa Senhora do Rosário door (XIII century) and the base of the tower (Midle Age), with Roman ashlars, are two of the most interesting architectural features of this fort.
In the village is worth seeing the Church of Santa Maria de Alcáçova, from 1905, and the green landscape of Lower Mondego rice fields. Ducks resting in the wetlands of Paúl Taipal decorate the landscape in a magical way. Walking down from the Castle, the visitor finds another building to visit: the convent of Nossa Senhora dos Anjos.
Outside the fortification, it’s the nobility of the XIX century houses that most impresses visitors. Flowers decorate the landscape, all over the village, and Mondego River completes the color pallete, with its band of blue water where colored rowboats floats. Nests of white storks complete the scenery of these fields.
Outside the fortification, it’s the nobility of the XIX century houses that mostly impresses visitors. Flowers decorate the landscape, all over the village, and Mondego River completes the color pallete, with its band of blue water where colored rowboats floats. Nests of white storks complete the scenery of these fields. The Natural Reserve of Paúl de Arzila and Paúl do Taipal are part of the natural heritage of this area. Here the visitor can observe several species of animals in their habitat.
In 711 begans the arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Montemor-o-Velho, sea-river port of great importance at the time, is the target of several reconquests between the IX and XII centuries. In 848 occurs the first christian reconquest of Montemor by King Ramiro I of León, who delivered the castle to the Abbot João. In 878 Alfonso III, The Great, occupied Coimbra doing the restocking of the Mondego area. At December 2, 990, takes place a new onslaught of arabs led by Almançor, who takes the castle of Montemor-o-Velho and delivers it’s government to Froila Gonçalves, descendant of Gonçalo Moniz, a portuguese count. Moniz was dislodged in the reign of Afonso V, by Mendo Luz, later becoming Gonçalo Viegas the responsible for the castle. In 1026 the Arabs recaptured again Montemor-o-Velho and, in 1034, Gonçalo Trastamires recovers the village to the christians, becoming its governor.
After further attacks by arabs, Fernando Magno, in 1064, finally conquest Coimbra and Mondego River area, delivering it’s government to count Sisnando, a mozarabic from Tentúgal. Lord Raimundo, governing Coimbra personally, gave the letter of settlement to Montemor in February of 1095.
During the Nationality period, king Sancho I leaves Montemor-o-Velho in his will to his daughter, Lady Teresa who, with her sister, Lady Sancha, gives charter to the village in May of 1212. The land grown, following a population outbreak throughout all the Lower Mondego area, with new farmlands and new villages around Montemor.
It was in the citadel of the castle, on January 6 of 1355, that King Afonso IV met with his advisers to decide the fate of Lady Inês de Castro (the Portuguese queen who was murdered by endangering the national crown) a day before execute the plan. After the Torres Novas siege, the Master of Avis, King João, went through Montemor-o-Velho, where he received homage of the captain-general and the people. He then followed to Coimbra where he was proclaimed. King João I gave the landlord to Prince Pedro who did stay there for some time. King D. João II left, by will, Coimbra to his natural son, Lord Jorge, including in this donation Montemor-o-Velho, which stayed in the House of Aveiro Dukes until 1759.
At August 20, 1516, King Manuel I gives a new charter to Montemor-o-Velho. It’s also during this time that an important change takes place in the local economy due to the introduction in the Mondego river fields of maize corn (brought from America). This generates a climate of prosperity which remained, with great force, until the seventeenth century.
Montemor-o-Velho is a municipality with 13 villages located in the center region of Portugal, approximately between latitude coordinates 40º N and longitude 8º W. Administratively it belongs to the district of Coimbra and to the sub-region of the Lower Mondego.
Around the village of Montemor ther’s old boroughs full of history, tradition and impressive architecture. Traveling through the various parishes you’ll find the Mother Churches, Cruises, and the landscapes, riches and curiosities of Abrunheira, Arazede, Carapinheira, Ereira, Gatões, Liceia, Meãs do Campo, Pereira, Santo Varão, Seixo de Gatões, Tentúgal, Verride e Vila Nova da Barca.
Gândara’s region makes a difference in the landscape, with it’s fields for planting potatoes, pastures and pine forests.
Due to the proximity of Montemor-o-Velho is worth seeing Santa Olaia village. This village was occupied since the Neolithic to the Middle Age, with particular emphasis in the Iron era (VII/VIII century B.C.). The village maintained commercial contacts with Phoenicians and Carthaginians who came here in search of mineral wealth, leaving vast assets, wich are now in the Municipal Museum of Figueira da Foz.
The neighboring counties of Montemor are Cantanhede, Soure, Condeixa-a-Nova, Coimbra e Figueira da Foz. The county seat is away from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, 225 km.
Numerical data of the county
Resident population: 25,478
Resident male population: 12,329
Resident female population: 13,149
Present population: 24,485
Buildings: 10 051
County area: 235 km2
Eels, fried shad, lamprey rice and sardines with bread are the fish dishes not to be missed in Montemor-o-Velho. In the meats we recommend the poultry, especially roast duck or duck giblets. In the desserts it’s prohibited dispense convent sweets: Pereira cheesecakes, Tentúgal pastries, angel’s chats, nun's tummies, candy spikes from Montemor-o-Velho or “moado” popes are delights that the visitor have to prove.
Center for High Performance
Located in Father Stephen Cabral, the Center for High Performance of Montemor-o-Velho (CAR), is composed for the Nautical Centre (CN), anchored on the valley mergins between Formoselha and Montemor; the Athletics Track, targeted for training of Trialto; and the Youth Hostel, located in the area of transition to the historic center.
The CAR’s return track - which allows the use across different Olympic sports such as rowing, swimming, kayaking or triathlon - enables it to be, nowadays, included in the scenarios of the most demanding international events and proofs.
Currently, CAR fits entirely on the national and international High Performance reality, with a framework of shared spaces and resources for different modalities.
The CAR’s main building is provided with hangars, restaurant, support areas, administrative areas, a multipurpose room, gym, medical office, massage office, sauna, turkish bath, jacuzzi and several spas.