VISEU TOURISM GUIDE
Fine fine art in a fine old city
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Viseu is a fine old city whose old center has changed little since medieval times. It is a pleasure to walk through it, and the large cathedral square is home to three imposing buildings. The one that gives the square its name is the twin-towered cathedral, with a delightful interior made up of Manueline vaulting, an outstanding gilded baroque altarpiece, and a graceful cloister.
Opposite the cathedral is the striking Rococo façade of Misericordia Church, and to the left is the Grão Vasco Museum, devoted to one of Portugal's finest painters who lived in Viseu for most of his life. Viseu was home to an important school of painting in the 16th century, greatly influenced by the work of Flemish masters. One of the museum's highlights is a 14-panel work depicting scenes from the Life of Christ, probably by Vasco and pupils. Noteworthy is The Adoration of the Magi, where Balthazar, traditionally an African king, is depicted as an Indian from newly discovered Brazil. Among other masterpieces are Grão Vasco's St. Peter Enthroned, and a Last Supper by Gaspar Vaz.
Just below the square is Praça Dom Duarte, another square with a rather romantic atmosphere created by its splendid old houses with wrought-iron balconies and views of the cathedral. The city's most appealing street is Rua Direita, a lively place with shops, cafes, and handsome old townhouses.
To the south is Republica Square or Rossio, the vibrant main square with a long mural attractively covered in blue and white tiles depicting scenes of country life. Across from the mural is the 19th century town hall, with more tiles featuring the town's history and personalities, fine woodwork, and a courtyard in the interior, and to the south is the 18th century baroque Church of the Brotherhood of St. Francis.
Up on a hill is a Moorish-style mansion that once belonged to the first director of the Grão Vasco Museum, now the small Almeida Moreira House-Museum with a diverse collection of paintings, furniture, and ceramics, although the house alone would be worth a visit.
Visitors who choose to stay overnight may want to check out the cultural events taking place at Teatro Viriato, named after the leader of the Lusitanians who fought the Roman invaders here, and whose statue stands on a rock at the edge of town.
Buses regularly link Viseu to Lisbon (5 hours away), Coimbra (2 hours away), and nearby Guarda.
The city's grand 19th-century hospital was transformed into a pousada, the perfect place to stay in the city.
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- Old university town; a tragic love story
Conimbriga - Roman village; Iberia's best preserved Roman mosaics
Figueira da Foz - The country's longest beach; exceptional Delft tiles; casino fun.
Buçaco - Manueline exuberance in a garden of Eden; the site of Napoleon's defeat
Aveiro - Colorful boats down attractive canals; a princess-saint; fine porcelain; a lovely fairytale castle
Serra da Estrela - Skiing down the mountain; ghost towns; historical museum-villages
Monsanto - Enchanting mountain village squeezed between gigantic boulders
Belmonte - Historical "Jewish town;" a great pousada
Guarda - One of the highest cities in Europe; off the beaten path Portugal
AND TAGUS VALLEY
Castelo de Vide
Vila Real de Santo António
BEIRAS (CENTRAL PORTUGAL)
Figueira da Foz
Serra da Estrela
PORTO AND DOURO
Gerês National Park
Ponte de Lima
Ponte da Barca
Viana do Castelo