In 1122 D. Maria Seseriquiz, her sister and children,
donated the Fontelo farm to the prelate D. Odório and
the Cathedral of Viseu.
Construction of the palace started in 1399, under the
bishop, D.João Homem. Two pointed-arch windows from this
time were revealed on removal of the stucco.
In 1426 D. Garcia has the primitive Santa Marta Chapel
D. Miguel da Silva, Bishop of Viseu from 1526 to 1547, a
distinguished patron and humanist, has the present
Italian Renaissance gardens built.
In 1565 D. Gonçalo Pinheiro ordered significant
renovations and had the S. Jerónimo [St. Jerome] Chapel
built as well as the Portal da Cruz, the gateway now
located at the roundabout in front of the Casa do
Between 1569 and 1578 D. Jorge de Ataíde has the
corridors and the dormitory cells built in the palace.
The palace served as a hospice in 1677, but this was
abolished between 1744 and 1764 by the Bishop, D. Júlio
Francisco de Oliveira.
In August, 1876, the Viseu Town Hall moved the portico
back by 9.5 metres in accordance with the Bishop D.
António Alves Martins so as to widen the street.
The building was abandoned until 1833. D. José Dias
Correia de Carvalho had it rebuilt as well as having the
gardens, fountains and pools renovated as well.
According to the Dictionary of Ancient and Modern
Portugal, tome XII, p. 725, published in 1890, the
definition of Fontelo at that time was as follows: “…
the palace is a very irregular building, constructed on
various dates, without imponence and architectural
ornamentation but very spacious with large rooms and a
good continuous chapel, dedicated to Santa Marta [St.
Martha] and decorated with precious paintings dedicated
to Grão Vasco…”
In 1911 the state of conservation of Fontelo was good
but the rents collected by the Mitre were insufficient
for its upkeep.
Once the Republic was installed, power over the Fontelo
palace and farm was wrested from the clergy in 1912. The
estate became property of the Ministry of War to hold
Army reserves. Part of the farmland became the property
of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Viseu Town Hall received the gardens and wood for
public access and recreation for an annual rent of
On 29 March 1926 the Town Hall takes definitive
possession of the wood, the old palace garden and part
of the land around Fontelo.
Today Fontelo is the town’s main sports zone as well as
visitor’s favourite picnic area.
When the old Fontelo Episcopal Palace was renovated it
was dilapidated. It had previously been a ‘Casa de
Reclusão’ and later occupied by some families of
returnees from the former colonies.
Renovating this building has been carried out jointly by
the Viseu Town Hall and the Comissão Vitivinícola
Regional do Dão, the Dão Regional Viticulture Commission.
The aim was to install the Commission and has taken the
name of the Solar do Vinho do Dão.
It is located in the Fontelo Wood, east of the city, and
800 metres from the Viseu Cathedral and the Grão Vasco