Beja is the biggest city in Portugal’s Alentejo region. Perhaps because of its strategic location on a hilltop overlooking the Alentejo plains, Beja has been a prize catch for empires dating back to the Roman era. It was already a well-established town in 48 BC, when Julius Caesar took it upon himself to name this place Pax Julia. Get a car for hire in Beja to catch up with the thousands of years of history present in each brick and stone in every church, castle, and museum in Beja.
Beja has been invaded time and again over the centuries. Each of these incursions has left behind monuments and historic sites. Perhaps the best example is the Church of Santa Maria, which started as a Visigothic temple in the 6th century AD, was rebuilt as a Moorish mosque, and then as a church in the 15th century. Get a car for rent in Beja and visit the castle, with its huge tower high up on the hilltop. It was built in the 13th century on the remnants of a Roman fort which was subsequently fortified by the Moors. The Visigothic Church of Santo Amaro from the 6th century AD stands adjacent to the castle. The Convento de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, a 15th century convent, is now a regional museum.
If you want your hotel stay in Beja to be part of the history tour, then check-in to the Pousada de Beja, São Francisco. This luxury hotel is housed in what was a majestic and graceful convent with a history dating back to 1268 AD. The Pousada is located in the heart of Beja at Largo D. Nuno Álvares Pereira. Visitors will be offered everything from Portuguese cuisine to fine wines from the wine cellar beneath.
Apart from the aforementioned Pousada, Beja has a small but select group of restaurants where visitors can get a taste of traditional Alentejo cuisine and wash it down with fine wines. Try the restaurant in the Hotel Melius on Avenida Fialho de Almeida or the A Pipa restaurant on Rua da Moeda.
Most people drop in on Beja on the way to or from Algarve. Lisbon is only a couple of hours away, so it is always possible to head out for big city breaks. You could just as well book your car rental in Beja right now and plan to explore the Alentejo region. An excellent place to start is the pre-Roman village of Alvito, with its castle, 13th century church, and the Chapel of São Sebastião. Another sterling choice is Vidigueira, which was purchased by Vasco da Gama and has a 2nd century Roman ruin with two floors still standing. Other towns worth visiting include Portel, Serpa, Moura, Mertola, and Barrancos.
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