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Castle of Vinhais


Vinhais, 5320

41.8356273, -7.0022956

The castle of Vinhais is the product of several attempts to centralize the Trás-os-Montes’s territory in "new villages", directly under the control of the king and better able to perform the functions of attraction and organization of labour. The first attempt to establish this urban pole took place in the reign of Sancho II, but only in the reign of Afonso III (already after a first attempt by this monarch in 1253, the year in which a foral was granted to the locality) was the village established, "on a hill opposite Crespos", where there was once a primitive settlement centred around the church of São Facundo (GOMES, 1993, pp.180-181).

Belatedly established, the construction of the village itself (with its castle and mother church) would have been quite delayed, with its parish temple not being mentioned in the Catalog of 1320-21. Rita Costa Gomes admits that the walls were completed in the 13th century and that, in the following century, they were the object of a reform (GOMES, 2003, p.159). We are not able to confirm this hypothesis, but if that is the case, we can assert that the nucleus instituted by Afonso III would have had many insufficiencies, to the point that, during the reign of his successor, significant improvements had to be made.

Either way, it seems certain that, in the reign of Denis of Portugal, the military system of Vinhais was in operation, dating from that time a fence with five or six towers, whose main door was flanked by two of them, in a harmonic and symmetrical composition characteristic of the architecture of the urban villages of the time. As it did not have an alcazaba, the keep was integrated into the fence, in keeping with the typology of Gothic castles. The layout of the complex itself, defining a walled area with an oval profile, albeit slightly irregular, is a testament to the construction's clearly Gothic style.

The castle of Vinhais played an important role in the 14th century, in the troubled circumstances of the reign of Ferdinand I and the revolution that followed. Between 1369 and 1371 it was occupied by Castilian troops and, barely twelve years later, its alcalde took the Spanish side. The fortress's peripheral status, reinforced by the extreme proximity of the kingdom of Castile, with which it had easy access routes, accentuated the greater connection of the castle lords to the invaders, a fact that was repeated in 1397, when the alcalde João Afonso Pimentel rebelled against John I and embraced the Castilian cause, returning to national possession only in 1403.

Classified as MN - National Monument