This is the third 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 Belmonte castle, in the district of Castelo Branco, was built in the 13th century. It lost strategic importance when due to the 1297 Treaty of Alcanizes the border with Castille and Leon moved eastwards. In the 15th century, King Afonso V gave the castle and the village to the father of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil, who was born there. Parts of the castle served as a prison in the 20th century. The castle was a ruin in the 19th century. It became a national monument in 1927 and has since been restored.
The large castle of Montemor-o-Velho, in the district of Coimbra, is said to have a capacity for 5,000 men and overlooks the Mondego river, having great strategic importance throughout history. The earliest references to a castle are from the 9th century. The castle changed hands between Christians and Muslims several times, during the Reconquista period. The castle was also disputed several times by different factions of the Portuguese monarchs. In the early 19th century, during the Peninsular War, the French troops were stationed in the castle, and sacked it and the village upon their retreat. The castle includes within its walls a church in manueline style. The castle and the church were classified as national monuments in 1910.
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 September 1986 to 31 December 1992. Hundred thousand booklets were made for each castle.