Golegã first began to develop as a town in the 12th century following the Christian re-conquest of the greater part of Portugal then held by the Moors. The fertile surrounding countryside and the town's position on the old Lisbon-Oporto Royal Road helped fuelled its development. These factors also led to the area's specialism in raising the famous Lusitano horses and their fame as the "Capital of the Horse"
The town's position at the crossroads of north and south, and of the route from the coast to the frontier, proved a painful one in the Napoleonic wars. Junot, Massina and their troops were billeted at the Quinta do Salvador in Golegã and the towns was seriously damaged in the fighting. However, the rest of the 19th century was comparatively peaceful and led to new fame for Golegã through its famous son the photographer Carlos Relvas. In the 20th century the writer José Saramago born in Azinhaga achied more fame for the area when he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998.
Golegã and the region around it today is a successful centre for agriculture using the most modern techniques and supplying both domestic and export markets. At the same time its unique character and history make it a delightful place for the visitor. The annual Horse Fair is a major attraction but the region also offers many other attractions through its historical buildings, handcrafts, sporting facilities and nature reserve.
The initial contact between Golegã and Hebden Bridge was the result of contacts between equestrian centres in the two towns. The first friendship visit took place in March this year and future contacts are sure to develop. A separate report on the visit will be available shortly.
The studio of Carlos Relvas
The Quinta da Cardiga (originally belonging to the Templars) near Golegã
An artists studio in Golegã
The visitors from Hebden Bridge appreciate the skillful carriage driving of their hosts