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Idanha-a-Velha is a charming village and one of the oldest in the group of Historical Villages of Portugal. Its history dates back to the 1st century BC, when it was known as "Egitânia".
This Raiana village, located a few km from the Spanish border, with just over 20 km2 and about 70 inhabitants, was once Roman, Sueva, Visigoth, Muslim and Christian. This constant exchange of hands is common to many places in our old country. What makes the difference in this small village, has been forgotten for perhaps hundreds of years. Fact that led to the remains and remains, almost intact, of traces and heritage, since the time of its foundation.
Rare fact, which makes it very special nowadays. For me, who spend my life dreaming and imagining things, with a special taste for history, arriving in Idanha-a-Velha is always to start a journey through time. At the end of each trip (or visit), the amazement is always the same. What kind of special place is this?
According to studies carried out, Idanha-a-Velha is located where a Roman city (in the territory of Civitas Igaeditanorum) once existed, in the 1st century BC, which became the episcopal seat during the Suevic and Visigothic domination - having also been occupied by Muslims, in the 8th century, and later regained by Christians in the 12th century. But it was his donation to the Order of the Temple in the 13th century that dictated its most recent history.
And the importance of Idanha-a-Velha, in strategic terms, was so great that the kings always gave it a lot of attention: D. Afonso Henriques handed it over to the Templars, D. Sancho II gave him the Charter (in 1229), D. Dinis included it in the Order of Christ (1319) and D. Manuel I (1510) gave him a new Foral, a contemporary of Pelourinho that we still found in the center of the village. Over time, Idanha-a-Velha lost its importance and vigor and, in the 19th century, became attached to Idanha-a-Nova.
He suffered from the desertification of the interior of the country and had many abandoned houses. Currently, some continue to live in this charming place (classified as a National Monument) and many buildings are being recovered, in order to also explore the tourist aspect and create jobs linked to it.