H2otel hotel, Serra da Estrela, Portugal

GPS Coordinates: Latitude 40° 15' 56" N Longitude 7° 37' 26" W

The Serra da Estrela, Portugal’s highest mountain range, is located just north of the centre of the country, towards the Spanish border. On its southern slopes, in a valley at an altitude of 750 metres lies the ancient village of Unhais da Serra, famous over centuries for its beneficial waters. Here, in the beautiful scenery of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, you’ll find the new 4 star hotel H2otel Congress and Medical Spa.

The Serra da Estrela is a fascinating area. Its exceptional scenery contains dramatic rock formations, gentle streams and lakes, lovely forests and outstanding views. In the summer walkers enjoy the beautiful flora and in winter, skiers descend its slopes.

Here you’ll also be able to enjoy some of Portugal’s oldest and best-preserved settlements, with sleepy walled hilltop villages built from the local granite and schist. You’ll find ancient ways of life still being practised here, with shepherds grazing their sheep and cattle on the slopes.

Just how remote this area used to be is evidenced by an ancient Jewish community, the only remaining in Portugal, in the town of Belmonte. Dating from the 12th century, this community survived all these centuries, including the Inquisition, by intermarriage and by hiding their faith and it was only in the late twentieth century that it became more open about its religion.

The secret Jewish communities in Portugal even contributed towards the nation’s gastronomy with the Alheira sausage, made from heavily seasoned chicken and rabbit, masquerading as pork to throw potential persecutors off their tracks. This region is famous for its robust gastronomy, especially its smoked sausages, but it’s also renowned for its outstanding sheep cheese, the Queijo da Serra, one of the finest in the world.

Although the region can seem to be from another time and world, it is easily accessed, being just off the highway between Salamanca and Lisbon. For your convenience there is a large, free parking area at the hotel. Both Porto and Lisbon are only approximately two and a half hours away by road. For even more convenience, book a safe, comfortable transfer.

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