Portugal on stamps

This is the fifth 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.

A fortification in Trancoso, in the northeastern district of Guarda, is referred as early as the 10th century. The castle and village were given to the Order of the Templars in 1173. Isabel of Aragon met her husband King Denis in Trancoso in 1282 and the village became part of her dowry. Due to its strategic position near the border, Trancoso was the site of one of several 14th century battles between Portugal and Castile, and several troops, including those of general Beresford, were stationed in the castle during the early 19th century Peninsular War. In the late 19th and early 20th century, parts of the walls and towers were demolished to obtain stones to pave the streets in the village. The castle became a national monument in 1921 and was partially restored in the 1930s. Trancoso was elevated to city in 2004.

The castle of Leiria was built in 1135 by Afonso Henriques to defend the southern part of Condado Portucalense from the Muslims, who conquered the castle twice. The village developed substantially and the castle hosted in 1254 the first Cortes (the king’s assembly) to include representatives from municipalities. King Denis developed the castle into a residential palace. Leiria became a city in 1545 but the castle had no longer military importance and decayed over the years, being further damaged by the French troops during the Peninsular War. The castle became a national monument in 1910 and parts of it, especially the palace, have been restored over the years. The stamp shows the gallery with gothic arcs, from which one has a great view of the city. Behind it is the former royal audience hall, where I once performed in the early 1980s as part of my school’s drama club.

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 10 April 1987 to 31 December 1992. Eighty five thousand booklets were made for each castle.

Stamp Print run Afinsa Gibbons Michel Scott Yvert
Trancoso 1,000,000 1798 2073 1720 1691 1697
Leiria 1,000,000 1799 2074 1721 1690 1698


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