pousada de palmela

Photos courtesy of Pousada de Palmela








Palmela’s location, high on a hilltop with views extending for miles in every direction, was an obvious location for warriors in the past to erect a lookout post from which to protect their territory. Archaeological discoveries have revealed man’s presence here since Neolithic times.

The Moors captured Palmela in the 8th century and built a castle on the site of what might have been a Celtic settlement. In 1147 they surrendered to Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, who founded a monastery next to the castle in honor of the Knights of Santiago. He allowed those Moors who had not fled to remain.

The Knights finally completed the monastery in 1482. Two years later the castle played a part in a conspiracy against King João II. While out overseeing his realm, the king decided to return overland to Lisbon instead of by the usual river route, thereby avoiding a waiting ambush. Considering João’s first act upon taking the throne was imposing a detailed and drastic oath of allegiance on his vassals, the conspirators were doomed. The king demanded the presence of the duke of Viseu, who was visiting his mother at Palmela, and personally stabbed him in his bedchamber. He next imprisoned the bishop of Évora in Palmela’s dungeon, where in a matter of days the bishop then died by suspected poisoning.

The great earthquake of 1755 that leveled much of Lisbon also damaged Palmela, but monks continued living in the monastery until the dissolution of religious orders in 1834.

Pamela’s Perspective

During September the region gives itself over to the wine harvest, in which you can actively take part.


Pousada de Palmela

A 15th-century castle-monastery


2950-317 Palmela
Tel: ++351 212 351 226
Fax: ++351 212 330 440
Official pousada website
Reserve with Booking.com

Fast facts

23 rooms

Double rooms 110–192 euros
Suites: 154–248 euros
Rates include breakfast, tax, and service.
Packages available

Open: all year

Getting there

Palmela is 8 km north of Setúbal on N-379. Buses make the trip from Setúbal every 20 minutes.

What to do

On site: massages
Nearby: golf; 4-wheel driving; hot-air ballooning; canoeing; bicycling; horseback riding; hiking; boating; excursions to Setúbal; Troia Peninsula; wine tours of Azeitão


The little village of Palmela, with its steep cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses, is almost overwhelmed by the imposing, part castle and part monastery complex above. From the castle’s ramparts, a 360-degree view looks out over hills and sea, windmills, and vineyards.

The pousada is installed in part of the old monastery, where public rooms are centered around the original cloisters—now with glassed-in arches. Tapestries and a plethora of potted plants soften the austerity. Long marble-floored hallways with vaulted ceilings lead to comfortable lounge areas furnished with leather sofas and armchairs.

Upstairs, the spacious guest rooms feature red tile floors and hand-painted tile baths. Rough-woven fabrics and leather and carved furnishings contrast pleasantly with the whitewashed and natural stone walls. All but two rooms have views looking out toward Setúbal.

Operating in the former refectory (the pulpit where prayers were once read still stands), the dining room is extremely popular with locals who come from as far away as Lisbon. Venison, wild boar, and a good selection of seafood are on the traditional Portuguese menu.

Something special

curlicueThe castle of Palmela is a National Monument.

curlicueOutstanding views, and on clear days you can see all the way to Lisbon.