Celorico da Beira is located in the central region of Portugal and embraces the concept of the regional brand “Serra da Estrela”, namely for it’s tourism, snow and stunning nature. Celorico has other more endogenous brand signs, which are recognised nationally and internationally such as it’s production of Serra da Estrela cheese.
Celorico da Beira has within it an historical area and a castle built in the 12th / 13TH centuries which is typically classified as a Romanesque-Gothic style castle. Today, the tower of this castle has several spaces that promote the history and culture of Celorico da Beira.
The Castle’s ground floor serves as a projection room. On the entrance floor of the tower there is an information point with access to information materials about the castle and Celorico da Beira county. Information includes the architectural, archaeological, cultural and ethnographic historic heritage. Also on this floor, there are archaeological remains found in research conducted in the castle. At the top of the tower there is a multimedia space which consists of an area of research and study of local history.
There is also internet access and an archive of old books that contain some important records of the County and Portugal. This last space ends in an area along the battlements where a virtual viewpoint has been created using new technologies recreating the history and main events of the castle of Celorico da Beira and it’s legends.
A little further into the Historic Centre is the Solar do Queijo building dated from the 18th century which previously had an administrative role and as Celorico’s Old Town Hall. Currently and since 1998 it has other functions such as promoting Serra da Estrela cheese. This building has a museum room that represents the typical kitchen where the cheese used to be manufactured. Visitors can buy or simply taste the cheese and other regional products with quality certification. The Serra da Estrela cheese is the crowning jewel of the region and appreciated nationally and internationally. Celorico da Beira is considered to be the Capital of Serra da Estrela cheese given the fact that it has many of it’s producers residing in this area.
Given that Celorico da Beira is in a remote and mainly rural region, it was important to portray the rural and laborious people that make up the county’s population who made agriculture and grazing their main way of life. Thus, the Museum of Farmers and Cheese was created. The site was chosen due to the building being an old agricultural farm which offered a true representation of the realities of the county.
Aware of the it’s environmental responsibilities and duties, The Museum of Farmers and Cheese began a series of activities in 2003 designed primarily for the school population to stimulate and promote the values and behaviours towards people’s attitude to nature. It was seen as important to prioritise the correct management of environmental resources. Today, the museum brings together a representative collection of Agriculture and Grazing in the county.
The Museum of Farmers and Cheese is composed of four distinct but complementary areas:
- On the ground floor there is a cellar and a storage room.
- On the first floor there is an exhibition room, an office, a reception and a storage room.
- There is a porch that surrounds the museum building, where agricultural implements are exhibited.
- There is an auditorium, a bar, a point of sale and a library.
The purpose of the museum was to transmit the diversity, richness and multifaceted culture of the region and also the practices and lives of the county’s people which often involved great effort, suffering and sometimes hunger, to future generations.
Centre for Food Research (Municipal Olive Oil Press)
Situated near the Mondego River, in the Municipality of Celorico da Beira, we find the Centre for Food Research (Municipal Olive Oil Press), a perfect retreat to enjoy the true flavors of Beira in a green natural ambience. Both its exterior and interior are made of granite, which is so typical and abundant in the surrounding landscape. The ceilings are covered in wood and the floor is made of glass to allow visitors to see below. In the ancient olive oil press, many kg of different varieties of olives have been processed into olive oil such as verdial, cordovil, camponesa, galega and serra do gato and enjoyed by the residents of the county.
The millstone that made the old press work is still visible. Visitors can sit comfortably enjoying the company of the river Mondego. Sometimes fish can be seen from the river swimming against the current. The Food Research Centre was created with the purpose of providing excellent services to visitors, to build a good relationship in price-quality through the development of practical research and projects. The mission of the Food Research Centre – Municipal Olive Oil Press was therefore created to stimulate thought and innovation, inside and out, and provide the community and its key stakeholders with a study centre equipped with the tools and social analysis to face market needs. The centre is also hired out for family, business, christenings or themed dinners. Its authenticity cannot leave anyone indifferent and without a desire to return.
In order to preserve the collective memory and ethnographic heritage, the municipality of Celorico da Beira sought to restore one of the watermills of stream Cabeça Alta. It is the restoration and preservation of a cultural element that humanized and filled the margins of the main streams and the river Mondego, in the county of Celorico Beira for centuries.
There are two types of water mills: one powered by a vertical waterwheel through a gearing mechanism. The mill has a vertical waterwheel with “paddles” that are moved by a strong stream of water. This movement is transmitted to the mill stone by a sprocket-wheel. And the other equipped with a horizontal waterwheel and is characterized by intermittent water supply. Recent studies have linked vertical water wheel mills to the main watercourses and horizontal waterwheel mills to the secondary or tertiary hydrographic network.
Due to this different location of the two types of grinding, horizontal waterwheel mills are usually subject to droughts, preventing them from functioning. On the contrary, there are no indications of seasonal stops in vertical waterwheel mills, since they are located on major water courses, and therefore not being subject to the drought in the warmer periods of the year.