We just stayed at Quinta de Santa Barbara, on our way from Coimbra to Evora, and were utterly charmed by this beautiful historic estate, which dates back to the 16th century, with ties to Portugal's revered poet, Luis de Camoes.
We stayed here on a Monday, and almost had the inn to ourselves, excepting 2 pet peacocks, and Pippa and Mike, 2 very entertaining kittens, who were diligently practicing their stalking and pouncing skills on each other.
Our room was very large and rustic, with a great view over the nearby valley. The quinta has a swimming pool that also has beautiful views, and is a very tranquil place to relax. There's a restaurant across the courtyard, which also has a tennis court and large garden behind it.
We had a good dinner at a restaurant in Constancia, "Falcoes", which serves various meats "a pedra", "on the stone", meaning that you're served the meat you choose raw, with dishes of salt, spices, minced garlic, and olive oil, which you use when you cook the meat yourself on a very hot stone tablet. It was very pleasing to eat this way - we'd experienced this presentation before, in a Bullfighting ring restaurant in Grenada.
Constancia is a tidy, pretty riverfront town of whitewashed houses, built on a sloping riverbank. Even though there is a modern factory across the river from the town, the place still manages to be quite charming. Many of the views don't include the factory.
There's also an enchanting 12th century castle nearby at Almourel. It sits on a tiny island, and a boatman will ferry you across the river to the castle, in a small boat.
The Quinta de Santa Barbara is a very good value - you get to stay at a beautiful, historic estate for a price that's much cheaper than many hotels of much lower caliber. We definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who enjoys historic, tranquil surroundings.
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