Vila Viçosa is a municipality in the District of Évora in Portugal. It was the site of a small settlement in Roman times. In the early 14th century, King Dinis I built a castle in the village, to protect it from potential Castilian incursions.
In 1461, Vila Viçosa came to the hands of the House of Bragança, one of the most important houses of nobility of Portugal. This was crucial in the history of the village, which became the main base of the Dukes of Bragança in the next centuries. The Dukes had considerable wealth and greatly promoted the economic, urban and artistic development of the village.
In 1502 began the building of the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, sponsored by Jaime, fourth Duke of Bragança. Jaime was a skilled military leader who later led the Portuguese to victory against a Moorish army in the Battle of Azamor, in Morocco.
The Ducal Palace was greatly remodelled between the 16th and 17th centuries in a sober late Renaissance (Mannerist) style, and was decorated through the centuries by several artists. The Dukes also sponsored artistic campaigns in several churches and monasteries in the village.
When Duke João became King João IV, in 1640, the House of Bragança moved to Lisbon, and many things were transferred to the Ribeira Palace. Vila Viçosa became a vacation spot for the members of the Bragança family.
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