Belmonte (Portugal)

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coat of arms map
Belmonte coat of arms
Belmonte (Portugal)
Basic data
Concelho : Belmonte
Freguesia : União das Freguesias de Belmonte e Colmeal da Torre
Coordinates : 40 ° 22 ′  N , 7 ° 21 ′  W Coordinates: 40 ° 22 ′  N , 7 ° 21 ′  W
Belmonte County
flag map
Flag of Belmonte Position of the Belmonte district
Residents: 6859 (as of June 30, 2011)
Surface: 118.76 km² (as of January 1, 2010)
Population density : 58 inhabitants per km²
Number of municipalities : 4th
Administration address: Câmara Municipal de Belmonte
Rua Pedro Álvares Cabral, nº 135
6250-088 Belmonte
President of the Câmara Municipal: Amândio Manuel Ferreira de Melo ( PS )
Belmonte County
Ruin of the Villa Centum Cellas

Belmonte is a small town ( Vila ) and a district ( Concelho ) in Portugal . It is the capital of the Rede de Judiarias , the route of the Portuguese Jewish Quarter, and is one of the twelve historic villages, the Aldeias Históricas de Portugal .

View of Belmonte and the surrounding area

On September 29, 2013, the municipalities of Belmonte and Colmeal da Torre merged to form the new municipality of União das Freguesias de Belmonte e Colmeal da Torre . Belmonte is the seat of this newly formed municipality.


Located in the mountain area below the Serra da Estrela nature park at an altitude of 620  m , Belmonte is about 25 km south of Guarda . It is located about 60 km north of the district capital Castelo Branco .


Belmonte historic town hall

Belmonte got the town charter in 1199 by the second king of Portugal Sancho I , the settler ("o povoador"). In the small village there is a castle that was owned by the Cabral family for centuries - see also the city coat of arms. Gonçalo Velho Cabral and Admiral Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467–1526) came from this family. Around 1500 he took possession of an unknown stretch of land for the Portuguese king with his fleet - later Brazil . In a small chapel near the castle there is now a grave monument for Pedro Álvares Cabral.

Age of Discovery

Belmonte, Viseu and Covilhã , a region around the Serra da Estrela , although in the interior of Portugal, are strongly connected to Portugal's Age of Discovery:

  • Henry the Navigator , his first title of nobility was "O Senhor da Covilhã" (Lord of Covilhã) ;
  • Pedro Álvares Cabral , born in Belmonte, Brazil- “explorer” and first seafarer who visited four continents in one trip: America, Africa, Asia and Europe;
  • Gil Eanes, the Cape Bojador prisoner, received the title “Fronteiro Mor da Beira” for his services - and thus control over the entire “Serra da Estrela Region”;
  • Pêro da Covilhã (born 1450 in Covilhã, died 1530 in Ethiopia); the Indian driver prepared Vasco da Gama's journey by land; In 1487 he had received the order from King João II to explore the Arab trading centers on the Indian Ocean and was the first Portuguese to reach Calicut in India;
  • Master José Vizinho doctor, astronomer and navigator, Jew from the large community of Covilhãs, student of Abraão Zacuto the Sephardic astronomer and doctor of King Dom João II. José Vizinho traveled the coasts of Africa up to the equator several times ; Sent to coasts of Guinea to develop nautical methods for sailing across the equator; he developed an astrolabe made of wood with Martin Behaim and Master Rodrigo . José Vizinho was friends with Columbus , who was also in contact with his teacher Zacuto ;
  • Master Rui Faleiro (born 1544 in Covilhã), Portuguese astronomer, was responsible for the scientific and organizational preparation of Fernão de Magalhãe's trip to the Moluccas (the Spice Islands). The journey culminated in the first circumnavigation of the world ;
  • Francisco Faleiro , brother of Rui Faleiro, has made significant advances in determining the geographical longitude and latitude - “ tetradado da agulha de marear ”, 1514 and “ tetradado del esphera y del arte del marear ”, 1535.

Jewish history of Belmonte

synagogue in the historic town center

Even before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by the Catholic kings in 1492 , many Jews settled in the border regions in northern Portugal ( Beira ). Portuguese- Sephardic Jews made decisive advances in astronomy , cartography , cosmography and mathematics . They made the great Portuguese discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries possible. The projects of Heinrich the Navigator , Duke of Viseu, who was Lord of Covilhã, then benefited from their knowledge . In Belmonte, Covilhã , Guarda , Trancoso and other villages in northern Portugal, the communities of Portuguese Jews flourished , played an important role and made a decisive contribution to the development of trade and the wool industry of the Serra da Estrela.

One of the last crypto-Jewish communities on the Iberian Peninsula has been preserved in Belmonte to this day - Jews who were forcibly Christianized during the Inquisition and who then secretly continued to live part of their old faith. The community has been officially recognized since 1989.

Finally, on December 4, 1996, the modern Bet Eliahu Synagogue, donated by wealthy Moroccan and North American Jews, was inaugurated in Belmonte. Since 2005, the Museu Judaico de Belmonte, the most important Jewish museum in Portugal, has been open to visitors.

On March 17, 2011 the Rede de Judiarias de Portugal - Rotas de Sefarad , an association of places of historical Jewish communities in Portugal, whose most important place is Belmonte, was founded. The aim is to preserve the buildings, the objects and the knowledge of the Jewish and Crypto-Jewish traditions and a common tourist offer to get to know them.


Belmonte Castle
City arms of the Vila de Belmonte below the castle
  • Belmonte Castle
  • Villa Centum Cellas (approx. 1.5 km in the direction of Guarda from the city), the ruins of a 22 meter high Roman tower, which the tin dealer “Lucius Caecilius” lived in “Centum Cellae” (today Colmeal da Torre ) served and is also known as the Torre de São Cornélio.
  • Belmonte Pousada , in the historic Convento of Belmonte
  • The Jewish Museum in Belmonte, opened on April 17, 2005, reopened 2017 after renovation
  • The New Synagogue “Bet Eliahu”.
  • The Romanesque-Gothic "Capela de Santiago".


Belmonte County

Belmonte is the seat of a district of the same name. The neighboring areas are (starting clockwise in the north): Guarda , Sabugal , Fundão and Covilhã .

With the territorial reform in September 2013, the municipalities ( Freguesias ) Belmonte and Colmeal da Torre were merged to form the new municipality União das Freguesias de Belmonte e Colmeal da Torre . Since then, the district has consisted of the following four municipalities.

local community Population
Density of
population / km²
Belmonte e Colmeal da Torre 3,912 38.32 102 050106
Caria 1.921 39.03 49 050102
Inguias 670 23.20 29 050104
Maçainhas 356 18.21 20th 050105
Belmonte County (Portugal) 6,859 118.76 58 0501

Population development

Population in Belmonte County (1801–2011)
1801 1849 1900 1930 1960 1981 1991 2001 2011
2946 3969 6573 8190 9109 6765 7411 7592 6805

Municipal holiday

  • 26th of April

Twin cities


Belmonte is on the A23 motorway and, with its train station just outside, is a stop on the Linha da Beira Baixa .

The place is integrated into the national long-distance bus network of Rede Expressos .

Web links

Commons : Belmonte  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. - indicator resident population by place of residence and sex; Decennial in the database of the Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. Overview of code assignments from Freguesias on
  3. a b Publication of the administrative reorganization in the Diário da República law gazette of January 28, 2013, accessed on October 1, 2014 (PDF; 2.3 kB).
  4. Enquadramento Geográfico. In:, accessed on January 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Juliette Laurent: Portugal: Jewish Traditions in Belmonte. In: Deutsche Welle . September 2007, accessed January 26, 2019.
  6. ^ Comunidade Judaica em Belmonte. In:, accessed on January 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Website of the Rede de Judiarias In:, accessed on January 26, 2013 (English and Portuguese).
  8. Reabertura do Museu Judaico. In:, accessed on January 26, 2019 (Portuguese).
  9. 6,859 according to Censos (2011). POPULAÇÃO EVOLUÇÃO DEMOGRÁFICA E ESTRUTURA DO POVOAMENTO. In:, December 13, 2017, accessed on January 26, 2019 (PDF; 297 kB).
  10. List of Belmonte's partnerships with the Association of Portuguese District Governments (ANMP), accessed on January 5, 2019.