History

mapa histórico

 

The town of Avis, county seat, played an important role in our country's history, by hosting one of the most important Military Orders – the Military Order of Avis, and for naming the most emblematic Portuguese dinasty, started by D. João I, Master of Avis.

In 1211, D. Afonso II, donates to the Friars of Évora the lands of Avis, with the requirement of building there a castle and populate the place. This Order settled on this land and has been known as Order of Avis. According to tradition, it was the Order who named the place. Legend says that some friars left with the mission of finding the perfect spot to build the castle and, at some point, on a hill in front of the territory under Muslim rule, saw two eagles perched on a cork tree. Since from ancient times the eagles have been considered a sign of God's favor, they decided that place would be the right spot and called it Avis which in Latin means bird. D. João I was the twentieth master of the Military Order and from that moment on it remained under direct dependency of the Crown.

Upon arriving at Avis one is surprised by the grandiosity of a town filled with history and natural beauty. Located over a granite hill with 201 meters of altitude, it offers endless stunning views from its belvederes and its towers. The town of medieval lines, narrow streets, white houses, with colorful yellow or blue ribbons and the typical front chimney, still keeps some original traits.

Its historical center has a lot to show, like the ruins of the Convent of S. Benedict of Avis, whose origin dates back to 1211, and was once part of the residence of the Master of the Order of Avis, the church of the same convent, the Parish Church, the Pillory, the Chapel of Mercifulness, the House of D João I's mother (number 13), the three towers: the Queen's Tower, S. Anthony's Tower and S. Roque's Tower.

Bathing Avis is the magnificent Maranhão Lake, spreading over 43 kms, that offers excellent conditions for fishing, canoeing, and rowing. Every year it is selected as training location for both national and international rowing teams such as the Olympic teams from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England.