Paço Reial

Paço Reial information

Estremoz , Portugal
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At the top of the upper town is the stark, glowing-white, fortress-like former royal palace, now the Pousada de Santa Rainha Isabel. Dom Dinis built the palace in the 13th century for his new wife, Isabel of Aragon. Visitors are welcome to view the public areas of the pousada and climb the keep, which offers a superb panorama of the old town and surrounding plains. The holes at the keep’s edges were channels for boiling oil – a good way of getting rid of uninvited guests.

After Isabel of Aragon’s death in 1336 (Dinis had died 11 years earlier) the palace was used as an ammunition dump. An inevitable explosion, in 1698, destroyed most of the palace and the surrounding castle, though in the 18th century João V restored the palace for use as an armoury. The 27m-high keep, the Torre das Três Coroas (Tower of the Three Crowns), survived and is still the dominant feature. It’s so called because it was apparently built by three kings: Sancho II, Afonso III and Dinis.