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Brief History

Why the stronghold was founded in this particular place it is unknown. This question, just to be answered with certainty by archeologists, could be related to the morphology of the soil as well to territorial strategy, once it was needed to strengthen conquered land. This led to the creation of defensive areas to enable new population to fix.

Rui de Pina wrote, in 1299, that Castelo de Vide was still "lugar etã mais chão q forte", a very weak stronghold. However it is called ?Castel de Vide? since then and $nbsp;Afonso Sanches, son of king Afonso III, began to rebuild the town-walls, his brother, king Dinis, continued with it and they were just completed during the kingdom of Afonso IV (TN: 14th century).
The enlargement of the town-walls and other improvements gave better defensive conditions to the stronghold. A well that before was outside the walls, was hereafter to accede from inside of the borough. A new line of walls surrounded the citadel and the new houses that grew in the outside. It was build a very important donjon that layd peripheral and protruding in relation to the walls, to a better defense of the southern side easier to accede and to attack. All these reinforcements in the defensive system indicate the growing importance of Castelo de Vide in strategical terms. The walls were damage under war machines and sieges during the wars with Castile, what was recurrent during the Middle Ages, as well in the process of keeping the municipal satus, acquired in 1276 when Castelo de Vide became independent from Marvão.

Slowly the town grows outside the castle walls yet during the 14th century. The conditions of the southern hill, with good exposure to the sun and a gently sloping hill, in opposition to the northern and westerly hills, with cliffs and windy, were determinant to the expansion of this neighborhood.

Thanks to the foundation of churches and shrines outside the town-wall, several roads arose leading to the castle and they became fundamental to the structure of the landscape. That is how the the communication axis, binding the main entrance of the castle with the shrine of Santa Maria, arose. This shrine was built in 1311 at the place of the actual parish church. This road is certainly one of the oldest expansion roads, it established the splitting between the two sides of the hill and also from the neighborhood aside, where the spring, source of water, used by the inhabitants of the borough in times of peace, was determinant to the urban expansion of that side of the hill, despite $nbsp;the worth geographical location. It is unknown if one of the neighborhoods is older than the other, probably they developed both at the same time. One of them was specially inhabited by Jews that came to Castelo de Vide, after being expelled from Castile and Aragon, in search for a shelter.

Many Jews fixed residence in Castelo de Vide because it is near to the border and the gateway $nbsp;in Marvão. The existing Jewish community grew and certainly they contributed to the development that would characterize this town.

It is possible to make an idea, however pale, of the urban development of the town till the 16th century through the drawings of Duarte d'Armas, the oldest known representations of the town, where we can confirm that in the first quarter of the 16th century both sides of the hill were already built.

The population lived on agriculture, cultivating vineyard, flax, olive trees, fruit and cereals and also livestock farming. $nbsp;The grain milling industry developed here with various water mills working along the riverbanks of da Vide and de Nisa rivers. Also wool spinning industry developed in this region having as base the livestock raised in the lands outside the town. At the end of the 15th $nbsp;or beginning of 16th century, wool spinning became very important, before the kingdom of João III (1521-1557), it was one of the most important crafts in Castelo de Vide and its inhabitants were called $nbsp;?Cardadores? (the wool-combers). 885 inhabitants existing in 1527 grew to 1400 in 1572, and to 1600 in 1603. This population growth was a result of the increasing agricultural production, the development of the spinning industry and the increasing trade with Spain.$nbsp;

The new town charter (king Manuel, 1512) establishes the administration rules of the town. Not just new laws are established but also the administration of free areas and the organization of Municipal limits. It was then that the market was installed and regulated in the large square (Rossio). This area once integrated in the urban area soon got the status of main square kept until now, and it was determinant to the development of the new quarters.The system of parallel streets developed at the São Roque hill, in the end of the 16th century, proves clearly this relation with ?Rossio? and it is clearly a projected design.

Despite the frequent weapon conflicts with Spain, in the beginning of the 16th century, the town did not enlarged its town-walls. The medieval stronghold and its various town-walls was enough to ensure protection and to defend the town and its surroundings for a long time.

However, the war after the 80 years of Spanish sovereignty (1580 till 1640) brought the necessity of new town-walls. The fortification works of Castelo de Vide were integrated in a global campaign that aimed to renew the defensive line in the border.

During the 28 years of war (1640 ? 1668) with Spain, there was time enough to organize an effective governmental operation together with the army and the precious knowledge of several military engineers and introduce French and English innovations in the art of building forts.

1641 marked the beginning of a long construction era in Castelo de Vide. After ten years the fortified line with bastions got its shape, replacing a fragile fence of pales that, here and there, was the only defense.

The result of these works, at the beginning of the 18th century, was a strong limitation in the population growth. The urban area grew gradually, filling the center of the town with manor houses built by the local aristocracy.

Beside a long defensive line with bastions, a new town-wall was also built with bastions and ravelins, surrounding the medieval stronghold and its surroundings, as well as a new fort (1705) at the São Roque hill and the old citadel was adjusted to the artillery needs and to new defensive systems.

From 1704 till 1708 another conflict with Spain brougth destruction to this region. In Castelo de Vide the stronghold again gave proof of its nut, however, large pieces of the wall were destroyed, particularly the medieval donjon was severely damaged.

In 1710, Manuel de Azevedo Fortes, governor of the garrison, finished the new line wall with bastions to protect the convent of São Francisco, two churches and a little quarter outside the previous fortified wall.

During the 18th century the town suffered a slow urban development, the majority of the houses became quite compact, due to the lack of space inside the walls. The number of houses and $nbsp;its inhabitants was the highest at the end of the century (1700 houses with 7000 inhabitants).

After the 18th century no works were done to the town-walls. Castelo de Vide kept the same image until the 19th century. The spinning industry entered in a slow decline (due in part to the creation of spinning manufactures in Portalegre) and with the military occupations and the consequent damages done by the Spanish and the French army's and during the civil war. Castelo de Vide had an active role in Portuguese military history, fighting against the French and participating in the civil war that subdued Portugal during the 19th century.

When, in 1823, the garrison left definitively Castelo de Vide, the bastions and the walls were abandoned or sold to private individuals.

In 1836 the Municipality of Póvoa e Meadas was suppressed and since then is integrated in the Municipality of Castelo de Vide.

The decline of the town was inverted when some factors leading to progress produced a new development impulse. In spite of $nbsp;destruction of historical heritage as it happened in 1852 with the demolition of the roman arch of Aramenha, that was brought from Marvão and rebuilt here to be the main entrance of the town in the 18th century. Some major works as the construction of the road to Marvão, in 1852, the construction of the railway station in the important route Lisbon ? Madrid, the ring road around the town and passing by Quinta do Prado where the family Le Coq applied new technology to agriculture and the fabrication of ?champagne? wine.

A new period of economic and social expansion is noticed in the mid-20th century with the increasing of tourism in this region, in search of the varied and copious mineral waters from several springs, what brought visitors to Castelo de Vide. Also the bottling and commercialization of the water from the Fonte da Mealhada became an important economical activity. For the first time since the 18th century the town grew and new quarters were built.

White washed houses, countless springs and fountains, manor houses from the 18th century,gothic doors, 12 churches (from the 31 existing in the Municipality), parks and gardens, picturesque corners with sober architectural constructions, the Jewish quarter, the Canto da Aldeia... are some of the unique values that turned the Notável Vila de Castelo de Vide (The Notable Town of Castelo de Vide) known all over the world. The tourism industry is today a major sector for social and economical development.