Martim Branco

Assim se vivia, com arte e muitos ofícios

Esta é uma aldeia que se esqueceu do tempo. Por detrás das casas da última rua, a ribeira de Almaceda faz cantar as águas e os rouxinóis.

The village was left there, beside the stream, watching people leave. And so it remained for many years, until, a few years ago, it awoke from that sleepiness. Behind the houses on the last street, the Ribeira de Almaceda (Almaceda stream) makes its waters and the nightingales sing. Outside, the communal oven still scents the air with newly baked bread. The ovens are the most interesting elements in Martim Branco. You just need to taste the bread to understand why.

In a land of varied relief, now high, now low , now narrow, now wide, now rounded, now pointed, it is this kind of landscape, now wild now gentle, now barren, now wooded, where the wild shrubs struggle into leaf and flower, "that Martim Branco springs to life”. Schist props stand in the gardens. Once they divided properties, now they unify the identity of the village. A number of houses showcase a rare marriage of schist and granite, a union of materials that guarantees the quality and permanence of the buildings. The doors display beautiful, eye-catching ironmongery.

Time appears to have stood still in this tiny village hidden between cliffs of schist and quartz, where every house is a modest building but with a genuine quality that the passing years not destroyed. In Martim Branco there is always some quiet spot to enchant us.


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Know the village


Martim Branco is a tiny village standing between cliffs of schist and quartz, with no built heritage of a religious or cultural nature. The village developed around two longitudinal streets - the Rua Principal and the Rua da Bica – giving it a longitudinal configuration. The Rua da Bica – which is parallel to and closer to the Almaceda stream – is the original village street, which is obvious from both its route and the buildings that line it.

The village is a rural aggregation where the constructions for housing, barns, communal ovens and weirs, are noteworthy for the modest design of their architecture, with all sharing an interesting feature: the fact that the most common construction materials used, with no adulterations in most cases, are schist and rammed earth. The predominant construction material is schist, although some of the building facades have been rendered and painted. The facades here also incorporate smooth, pale, round rocks from the river.


Although various archaeological finds have proved that the region in which Almaceda parish stands has been populated since the earliest times and a number of indicators show that the passing of the Moors through the parish has brought important benefits to for its inhabitants, it has only effectively been occupied since the time when the  Sarzedas charter was granted.

King Sancho I requested the authorities of the municipality of Covilhã to concede Sarzedas to be bequeathed to his son, D. Gil Sanches. The royal request was heeded and in 1212  D. Gil Sanches and Paio Pais  granted the charter and customs of Covilhã to Sarzedas, with a view to restoring it and populating it. From that date, occupation of the parish of Almaceda, to which the village of Martim Branco belongs, became a reality.


The natural heritage is of particular import in the picturesque and winding Almaceda stream, where venerable watermills nestle that have ground so much rye and corn for “our daily bread”. Along the stream, essential common forests abound throughout almost all of the Beira Baixa: pines, cork oaks, holm oaks and olive trees, the latter covering the most fertile valleys surrounding Martim Branco. The uncultivated lands are covered with the wild shrubs characteristic to the region: carqueja (baccharis trimera), rosemary, gorse, and broom.

The fauna is varied: if we look and listen carefully we can be rewarded by heart-stopping glimpses of a fox, rabbit or hare, partridge, thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, quail, cuckoo or lark. There is always a quiet spot that enchants us in this space that is given over to nature.

The name of the Ribeira de Almaceda appears to be associated with the flow of its waters. Hence, according to PIMENTEL (1881) almaceda is a name of Arab origin meaning "abundant waters". The stream will join the Ochreza which, after resting a while in the Pracana dam, will go to swell the Tagus.




Lost among the numerous ever-dwindling elevations as the Serra da Gardunha  and Serra do Muradal mountain ranges gradually sink into the heath, Martim Branco spreads over the gentle slope of a sunny hillside on the left bank of the Ribeira de Almaceda. This flows around the west part of the village before going on to empty into the River Tripeiro, one of the important tributaries on the right bank of the River Ochreza. As it passes, its kisses the boundaries of this village in the municipality of Castelo Branco, surrounded by lands of varied contours and by a landscape that alternates between wild and gentle, barren and wooded, where the wild shrubs struggle into leaf and flower.

Martim Branco is a total of 24km from Castelo Branco, a mere 2km off the EN112, the road from Castelo Branco that picks its way through the Muradal and Gardunha mountain ranges, breaching the  Serra do Açor  en route to theSerra da Lousã.

Stories and Facts

Origin of the name
There is good reason to believe that “Martim Branco” was named after a person. There are other places with the name Martim (Martim, Barcelos and Martim Longo, Alcoutim). The name is shared between the older cluster of buildings (Martim Branco Fundeiro) and the hamlet further upstream (Martim Branco – Eiras).

Blessing for bread dough
"Our Lord swell you now and forever,
Our Lord swell you for me and for everyone"
This blessing was said in Martim Branco while making the sign of the cross over the bread dough that had been put to rise.

Sunset in Martim Branco
The sun leaves
The sun leaves
The sun leaves and the shadow stays
The sun leaves amazed
At the shadow being so rich

By Sebastião Antunes (inhabitant of Martim Branco)


  • Permanent residents: 10 - 50

  • Demonym: martinenses


  • Horticultural produce
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Wooden spoons

Suggestions for the village of Martim Branco

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Contacts and Information

Martim Branco, Castelo Branco 
Getting Here:
Coordenadas GPS: 39º 56' 46'' N | 7º 37' 32'' W

De Norte
Circulando pela A25 sair na saída nº.30, para convergir com a A23 no sentido Guarda Sul/Covilhã/Portalegre. Na A23 tome a direção Castelo Branco Norte EN112/Pampilhosa, saída nº.23. Seguir na direção da EN112, virando na primeira saída da rotunda, seguir na EN112 na direção de Pampilhosa da Serra durante 20km. Vire à direita para Martim Branco, onde chegará passados 2km.

De Sul
Circulando pela A1 tome a saída nº.7 para convergir com a A23 no sentido Abrantes/Torres Novas. Seguir pela A23 até à Saída nº.23 no sentido Castelo Branco Norte EN112/Pampilhosa da Serra/Penamacor. Seguir na direção da EN112, virando na primeira saída da rotunda, seguir na EN112 na direção de Pampilhosa da Serra durante 20km. Vire à direita para Martim Branco, onde chegará passados 2km.

De Espanha
Passando a fronteira em Vilar Formoso, tomar o A25 e percorre-la durante aproximadamente 34km. Continuar pela A23 na direção Guarda Sul/Covilhã/IP2/Portalegre, tome a sida nº.23 na direção Castelo Branco Norte EN112/Pampilhosa. Seguir na direção da EN112, virando na primeira saída da rotunda, seguir na EN112 na direção de Pampilhosa da Serra durante 20km. Vire à direita para Martim Branco, onde chegará passados 2km.

Other Informations:
Na aldeia existe um painel informativo sobre:
» o PR2 CTB – “Caminho do Xisto de Martim Branco, à entrada da aldeia.



Câmara Municipal de Castelo Branco

Praça do Município
(+351) 272 330 330

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