Weddings World Tour: PortugalWords by Holly V. Kapherr
Photos courtesy of Visit Portugal
Lisbon might be Portugal’s heart, but the Alentejo Region is the country’s soul – a perfect spot to say “I do” among groves of olive and cork trees, expansive vineyards and medieval castles. The Southern region stretches from the border of Spain in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west and is known for its gorgeous vistas overlooking fertile hills, dotted with picturesque towns and villages.
Video by Visit Portugal via Youtube
Alentejo’s pousada hotels are its go-to accommodations, especially for events like weddings. These hotels were transformed by the Portuguese government, making use of historical monuments and buildings and turning them into three, four and five-star accommodations and venues. Tucked away in the hills around Alentejo’s largest town, Évora, is the 16th century Pousada Convento de Arraiolos. The bleach-white former convent features rooms centered around a sanctuary filled with singing birds and citrus trees. Marry against the idyllic pastoral backdrop surrounding the hotel, with rows of vines producing Alentejo’s famous wines (which, of course, can be served at your reception), or in the on-site Catholic chapel, lined with traditional Portuguese cobalt azulejo tiles.
Within Évora’s medieval walls, the five-star M’AR De AR Aqueduto hotel (a former medieval palace from the 16th century) is an ideal spot for couples looking for a more modern spot to wed with plenty of activities surrounding the main event. Many of the well-appointed rooms face the town’s aqueduct, completed in 1537, uplit in the evenings for a romantic showcase. The hotel’s 120-person venue hall was formerly the building’s chapel. Wed with a city view on the hotel’s rooftop, then party on the hotel’s lawn under a poolside tent. Hold your welcome dinner at Café Alentejo for an excellent sampling of traditional dishes, including the region’s most-famous meat, the acorn-fed black pork.
Part of the collection of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the 57-suite São Lourenço do Barrocal is a sprawling agritourism property featuring true farm-to-table experiences. Lemon and orange trees flourish throughout the property, and giant rosemary bushes perfume the air. The hotel offers a bevy of memorable activities for up to 200 wedding guests, including hot air balloon rides, biking and hiking trails and horseback riding. Request the honeymoon suite, a one-bedroom cottage with private terrace, and calm any pre-wedding jitters in the full-service spa’s wine barrel hot tub with a view to the area’s castle. Wed in the olive grove or poolside with a view to the hotel’s vast gardens, and serve the hotel’s proprietary wine for a hyperlocal touch.Both affordable and extravagant, your wedding budget will go far in Portugal. Buying out a property isn’t out of the question with advanced planning, and with day trips to cork producers and terra cotta pottery studios, there are plenty of options for charming, take-home favors and wedding party gifts along the way. History lovers, foodies and oenophiles will all find something to love about Alentejo – delicious foods, first-class wine and impossibly beautiful backdrops for that perfect wedding portrait.
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