Jump to Content

Exploring the Portuguese Countryside: Alter do Chão - Portugal’s perfect horse destination

Set in the hills outside of Portalegre, the town of Alter do Chão was founded by the Romans as Abelterium, but today is known for rare horses.

Today’s Alter dates mostly from the Middle Ages, when fortifications and a castle, which was built by King D. Pedro I in 1359 encouraged the market town to develop.

The castle still stands in the heart of Alter today, surrounded by places to eat and enjoy a coffee.

But it is the Coudelaria Real, or Royal Horse Farm, that gives Alter its well deserved fame. Founded in 1748 by King D. João V, it was dedicated to the Alter Real breed of horse, the most noble such farm in the world. Home to the Lusitano purebred horse, the Alter Horse Farm is the oldest in the world to operate uninterruptedly in the same place.

The Alter Horse Farm was tied closely to the royal Riding School, and its horses are the finest in the land. It was built at the Coutada do Arneiro, which was owned by the crown. Today, these wonderful animals are happy to have you visit — but book ahead for a ride or an equine adventure in this proud and welcoming place.

Here, you have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the stud farm, but also experience a ride. Carriage rides, round pen horse ride lessons and horseback rides are also available, both for beginners and aficionados. Or, visit the falconry house and its museum and watch the flight of the falcons.

Recently, a new luxury hotel opened in the royal farm, offering guests great food and lodgings. 

The Vila Galé Collection Alter Real - Equestrian Resort, Conference & Spa is a hotel located within the Alter Horse Farm, this 4-star resort features 77 rooms, two outdoor pools for adults and one just for children, and a Satsanga spa with a heated indoor pool. Check out the fine local cuisine at "Inevitável” restaurant with culinary flair, and the "Dressage” bar. It also has a library, two meeting rooms and an event hall. Also they have a fully restored traditional olive oil mill, with a typical wood-fired oven, and a wine shop, where the hotel often offers regional wine and olive oil tasting.

Image 850