This is the first of nine issues showing castles from the 18 districts of mainland Portugal. For each stamp, a bilingual booklet with a miniature sheet incorporating the district’s coat of arms was produced.
The Santa Maria da Feira castle in the district of Aveiro is a prime exemplar of Portuguese medieval military architecture, and played a key role in the battles between Moors and Christians and for the independence of Portugal. It has been heavily restored after its ruin and devastation by a fire in the 18th century. One of Portugal’s main medieval fairs took place next to the castle and this gave the name to the location. It is interesting that the stamp presents the same perspective on the castle as a 1973 stamp.
The Beja castle in the district of the same name stands on a hill, dominating the city and the surrounding region. Built on the remains of a Roman castle fortified by the Moors, the castle was expanded several times, most notably under King Dinis. The 40m high keep is the highest in Portugal and was built using granite and marble from the region.
The set was designed by José Luís Tinoco (stamps) and José Bénard Guedes (coats of arms), lithographed by the Mint on enamelled paper sheets of 5×10 stamps with perforation 12×12½ and a phosphor band, and circulated from 18 February 1986 to 31 December 1992. Hundred thousand booklets were made for each castle.