The archaeological findings at Casal da Cerca bear witness to the occupation of the land of the municipality of Palmela by man since the Middle Palreolithic. The original castle was built on a strategic site dominating the vast area that stretches between the Tagus and Sado estuaries.
King Monso Henriques conquered the fortress from the Moors in 1147, though they were to retake it in 1165, only to lose it again in 1166. fu 1170, king Monso Henriques granted charter to the freed Moors and in 1185, to the settlement, both charters later confirmed by king Monso II.
The castle was donated to the Order of Santiago de Epada in 1186. It was destroyed in 1191 under the command of Almansor and was later rebuilt by order of king Sancho I, who also confirmed the donation of the fortress to the military order.
King Dinis raised Palmela to township status in 1323 and in 1423 king Joao I ordered the construction of a convent for the friars of Santiago who thither transferred their see in 1443. King Manuel I granted a new charter to the town in 1512. fu 1855 the municipality, which is linked to the fame of its excellent wines, was extinguished, to be restored again only in 1926.
Forty kilometres to the south of Lisbon, close by the river Sado, you can see the castle of the town of Palmela. Your gaze seems to lose itself in the vastness of the landscape, the Amibida Nature Park, the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, the enchanted Tr6ia Peninsula, the Tagus lost in the flood-plains and immensity of the fields.
Blessed by nature, Palmela is also noted for the wealth of its historic heritage, with its castle, its Neolithic tombs, its archaeological remains and its beautiful churches. Palrmla is also famous for its fine wines that have been awarded international prizes.
From golf to handicrafts, from the diversity of its accommodation to the entertainment provided by countless festivals, the offer is quite unlimited Set out to discover our cooking, taste the famous Azeitao cheese accompanied by home- made bread, and enjoy our sweets.
Palmela is the biggest municipality of the Setubal Peninsula, with an area of about 460 km2. There are five parishes: Palmela, the county town and administrative centre, Pinhal Novo, Quinta do Anjo, Marateca and Poceirao.
GRAPE HARVEST FESTIVAL
The Harvest Festival has been held in the town of Palmela since 1963. It takes place from Thursday to Tuesday, including the first weekend of September. Three processions enliven this festival; the 'Peasants Procession', the 'Harvest Procession' on the Sunday afternoon and the 'Illuminated Harvest Procession' on the Tuesday evening.
The processions through the historic centre are filled with allegories and personalities; the year's harvest queen is elected; a procession of peasants re- presented by children heads towards Sao Pedro Church where the year's first must is blessed and there is a mass of thanksgiving for the bounty of the land.
In addition to the traditional processions, this festival holds many surprises and much entertainment: exhibitions, bull-runs, wine tasting and selling, handicrafts, good food and music shows are just some of the attractions. The magnificent firework display, an event not to be missed on the last day, with its simulation of the fire at the castle will ensure that the Harvest Festival will remain rooted in your memory.
Travelling round the municipality of Palmela provides the opportunity to taste traditional cooking. The diversity of the region provides visitors with a variety of dishes that are not to be missed 'Caramela' soup, 'Palmeloa' braised broad beans, Rabbit and beans Palmela style, Boiled capon, Chicken with cherry sauce and Ewe's milk butter are just a few of the dishes that you can try.
The famous Azeitao ewe's milk cheese, mainly produced in the parish of Quinta do Anjo, is a certified product that dates back to the 19d. century, the ideal cheese to go with our homemade bread The 'riscadinha' apple, originally produced in the 19th.century, is a delicious Denomination of Origin fruit from the Palmela municipality that is to be found in July and August.
Of the sweets, the Fogara de Palmela, Almond Cakes, Stewed Pears in Muscatel Wine, Riscadinha Apple Pie, Rice Pudding made with ewe's mi1k, Meringues and Bolo de Familia are outstanding.
In 1185, when Palmela was granted its first charter by Monso Henriques, Portugal's first king, the charter already mentioned the regions vineyards and wine, fully confirming its wine-making traditions. The 19th century saw the plantation of what was to be the world's biggest vineyard at Poceirao. Palmelas wines are quality certified and include reds, whites and Muscatel.
Of the reds the predominant varietal is the Castelao ('Periquita'). These are fuIl-bodied wines of intense colour and full bouquet, with a predominance of dried fruits and spices. The whites are made from varietals such as Femao Pires and Moscatel de Setubal, generally with a good structure and a fruited aroma.
The Moscatel de Setubal and Moscatel Roxo varietals dominate the fortified wines, of which the Moscatel de Setubal has acquired just fame. The Setubal Peninsula Blue Coast Wine Route extends an invitation to visit this fine region with its beautiful scenery; history, heritage, culture, wineries, wines, peoples and customs -so you can enjoy wine tourism to the full.
PROTECTED AREAS ANDACTIVE TOURISM
The municipality of Palmela lies between two of the country's most important Protected Areas: the Arrabida Nature Park and the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, and it covers parts of the Park and of the Reserve.
Of the area included in the park we would underscore the very beautiful Serra de Sao Luis, which can be accessed via Vale dos Harris, the pastureland for the ewes that produce the milk for the Azeitao Cheese. Serra do Lourois another place not to be missed for its interesting windmills. For nature lovers we would recommend the enchanting Serra de Sao Francisco.
This magnificent scenario, with its footpaths and the green of nature, provides visitors with unforgettable moments in touch with a very beautiful natural environment. Companies organising active and nature tourism are specialised in several outdoor activities, particularly karting, hiking, cycling, donkey-trips, paintball and climbing.
The old Palmela castle was taken by the Moors for the last time during the 12th century and, after that, it came into the possession of the Order of Santiago (St James), whose friar-knights helped in the Christian reconquest of the South of Portugal. The castle/ convent is now a peaceful pousada or inn whose dining room is the old refectory.
The elegant use that has been made of the old cloisters makes this the ideal venue for gala dinners. Outside, one can see the church of Santiago, a beautiful 1Sth century gothic monument largely desecrated and despoiled, and the church of St Mary which is a total ruin.
The beautiful Town Hall building is located in the same square as the parish church. The main hall is decorated with portraits of the kings of Portugal down to Manuel I. During its life, this noble building has housed the Courthouse, the Town Council, the abattoir and the prison.