The picturesque historic village of Castelo Novo (New Castle) is in the heart of Central Portugal, set within a natural amphitheatre enclosed by the Gardunha mountain range (Serra da Gardunha). This incredible looking village has Baroque, Roman and Medeival influences. The drive towards the historic village of Castelo Novo gave us a shocking taste of what was to come, the scale of fire-damaged smouldering, smoking fields, forests, gardens and even buildings, was unbelievable. A once heavily forested area, recent fires have all but decimated the forests, burnt by raging fires 25kms wide, which came right up to the edges of the village.
All of the villagers were evacuated and safe whilst the fires were brought under control and village is once again open for business. Whereas many surrounding farms lost their crops and some buildings were destroyed thankfully Castelo Novo was mostly untouched by the fire so it’s unique historic gems and traditional Beira style houses were saved.
We parked in the centre of the village walked up the hill past the former town hall, Chaos wanted to climb on the Pillory, whipping post, where punished criminals were displayed to the public.
As we neared the viewpoint next to the Parish Church the sight of the fire damage was staggering, a fire we had witnessed with other shocked campers, some 40kms away. The earth was now totally blackened with only the odd hillside building to give some scale to the devastation.
Our boys were excited to enter the metal walkway and climb up the steep steps to the castle ruins and appreciate the sunning views of the village and surrounding countryside.
On the way back we visited the very informative information centre to find out about the up and coming festivals and were directed towards the ‘Lagarica’ the most amazing wine press, which relied on people power and the tredding of grapes, a relic from 7th century wine making!
Castelo Novo is part of the twelve historic villages of Portugal (Aldeias Historical de Portugal), and has managed to preserve its fascinating history, and despite the recent fire will continue to wow future visitors.
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