In the heart of the historic centre, there are two adjoining
buildings, the ‘Solar dos Cavaleiros’, a mansion dating back to the 18th
century, and a contemporary building from the 21st century. Together
they form the Cargaleiro Museum, a
municipal cultural facility whose mission it is to study, catalogue, preserve,
interpret, display and promote the Manuel Cargaleiro Foundation Collection. In
addition to the various exhibition rooms, there are other areas associated with
the museum’s dynamics, such as the library and the Educational Service, as well
as the shop and a small outdoor amphitheatre.
It is believed that the 18th century was the most productive period for Castelo Branco Embroidery, a region where growing flax was traditional and where the mulberry tree allowed the large-scale rearing of silkworms. After a phase of decline, its resurgence occurred in the first quarter of the 20th century. While the basis for Castelo Branco Embroidery were engagement quilts, displaying biblical themes, flowers, friendship, love and the bond of marriage, nowadays, although the technique remains the same, there may be other motifs, such as a work by the artist Cristina Rodrigues, who has designed large panels, embroidered in the Interpretation Centre, which then decorated the altars of Manchester Cathedral in the United Kingdom. Traditional motifs have also inspired other arts, such as Portuguese cobblestone, postage stamps, fashion, furniture, etc. Castelo Branco Embroidery, in natural silk on handmade linen, has its epicentre in the Interpretation Centre, which aims to contribute towards the recovery, innovation, re-launch and enhancing the status of Castelo Branco Embroidery, the highlight of the city and the municipality, a unique form of artistic expression.
Housed in a modern building, the Castelo Branco Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCCB), in Campo Mártires da Pátria, aims to promote and disseminate contemporary culture, stimulate artistic creation and work to engender and teach new audiences. In addition to the exhibition areas, it has an educational services area, a cafeteria, an ice skating rink and an auditorium with 275 seats, which is equipped with an exceptional sound system. For those who prefer not to be accompanied during their visit, the CCCCB offers multilingual exhibition room sheets and tables with QR Codes.
The Episcopal Palace Garden is located next to the former Episcopal Palace, home to the Francisco Tavares Proença Júnior Museum. This is one of the most significant Portuguese Baroque gardens, where a perfect harmony between vegetation, water and statues prevails. It features several arrangements and boasts the charm of the terraces with box hedging, lakes and sculptures stood in hidden corners, or ascending different levels of staircases in a blaze of glory, be they symbolic figures, statues of kings or apostles, among others. The Lake of Crowns, the Waterfall of Moses and the flooded Garden are some of the features not to be missed.
Beira Baixa is the region in which some of the best loved and most traditional cheeses in the country are produced, thanks to the excellent pasture land, where sheep and goats find favourable conditions to produce rich, delicious milk. The main ingredient combines artisan production techniques that give the Cheeses from the Region of Castelo Branco PDO unique organoleptic characteristics. Casa Agrícola Cabeço Carvão, in Alcains, can already look back over 80 years of history, and now the third generation is charged with continuing the persistence, hard work and expertise of Grandmother Teresa. The dairy is home to a range of dairy products, such as sheep’s cheese (amanteigado), mature sheep’s cheese (‘CORNO’ cheese), ‘Cabreira’ Sheep’s cheese, Queijo da Avó, Sheep’s Cottage Cheese (TRAVIA), etc.
Castelo Branco is a veritable open-air museum, where heritage survives unscathed, living in harmony with tourism and modernity. Birthplace to some of the oldest and richest traditions, the municipality is known internationally for its embroidery, cheese, olive oil and wine. Its landscapes are stunning, just as its flavours. But it is its people, proud of centuries of heritage and boldly striving in search of modernity, who turn Castelo Branco into a vivid municipality «embroidered with light».