In the 15th century, the little Church of Our Lady of the Rosary stood on the hill overlooking the medieval town of Chaves in Portugal. Later, there was also the ancient chapel of St. Francis in the fortress. (Both are there today in beautiful shape).
In 1635, a Franciscan monastery was also constructed on the hill.But by 1658, wars and disputes broke out and thick fortified walls were built around the church and convent. Inside the military fortress monks and soldiers lived side-by-side.
Centuries later after several wars, the fortress was abandoned.
In 1938, Portugal declared the fort a National Monument as the country became interested in its historical significance.
After 10 years of reconstruction, the fortress opened as a 4 star hotel in 1997 and has been the very successful Forte Sao Francisco.
The main entrance to the fort is the west gate. There is also the west side tunnel entrance. The south side entrance is through the drawbridge with its now dry moat.
I really enjoy the pool, the rooms, service, restaurant, and historic spaces in this wonderful hotel.
I always feel as though I am in another time when I stay at the Forte.
Now that the north is easier to access with good roads and highways, it's a breeze to get to Tras-os-Montes (Behind the hills). I remember going once years ago and winding up the hills and mountains with steep drops on either side...and my heart in my mouth. But it was very beautiful!