Thanks to its layout on the hillside, starting from the top of a hill towards the valley, Alenquer has long since conquered the epithet of Nativity scene in Portugal.
Cradle of Damião de Góis and favorite of Camões, played a leading role in every era of history. A testimony to this is its rich heritage: prehistoric sites, castles, convents, churches, chapels, farms and stately homes. Head, for eight centuries, of a vast municipality - third in area in the district of Lisbon - limited to the north by the slopes of Montejunto and to the south by the Ribatejo meadow, it presents a characteristic landscape, transition between the countryside of Estremadura and the plain, where the vineyard is predominant and the ancestral base of its economy.
The municipality of Alenquer played a leading role in each era, at each moment, in the history of Portugal. From these times there were material traces, legends, memories, traditions, which, being the heritage of all of us, must be understood and cherished.
HISTORICAL ORIGIN OF ALENQUER
For some historians, Alenquer derives from "ALAN-KERK", which means ALANOS TEMPLO. There are opinions to give the Suevos the institution of Alenquer under the name of ALANKANA. In turn, the Turdulos (the noblest people in Lusitania, according to Strabo), are identified as the first to build the Village, which they would then call ALAN-KERK-KANA. Frei Luis de Sousa, believes that Alenquer's name was ALANO-KERKA. In this rosary of probabilities, there is also the Arabic ALAIN-KEIR, which meant "Blessed source", or the Arab EL-HAQUEM "which means" The Governor. Alenquer throughout its mythological existence and until reaching its current place name, suffered several disturbances, depending on the culture of its inhabitants; Otherwise we see: Centuries VI AC to II AC - Celtiberos, (BRIG), Cartagineses, Lusitanos and Turdulos (ALAN-KERK-KANA); Centuries II AC to V DCK (418) -.... ALANQUER, ALUNQUER, ALON-QUER, ALANQUER, ALEMQUER and ALENQUER.
THE LEGEND of "Alão wants" - conquest of Alenquer from the Moors
Tradition tells that on the morning of the day when he had to log the final fight, the Christian king going with his sequel to bathe in the river and make his runs, they noticed that a large and brown dog that guarded the walls and was called "Alão ", fell silent and had many parties for them. The king, taking this for good presage, ordered the attack to begin by saying "Alão wants", words that served as a future appellido to the villa. The battle was bloody and fierce and the Christian gentlemen did valuable wonders. Especially in the next wicket where the church of S. was. Thiago a lupta was rehydissima, but the Portuguese inspired by the faith that S. Thiago himself fought in front of him, overcame all obstacles and took the square.
There is a second tradition that says that the dog "Alão" was in charge of carrying the keys in his mouth every night through the wall outside to the governor's house and the Christians taking advantage of the animal's instincts arrested a cadella under an olive tree in sight of the dog who subjugated by loving feelings climbed the walls, thus handing the keys over to the Portuguese. If these traditions are well founded, we do not know, but they are very old and it is certain that the villa's weapons are a brown dog attached to an olive tree, which seems to confirm the tradition.
ABOUT THE NEW BUILDING
Over time, the Chamber's public administration had difficulties in implementation and governance, due to the lack of human and financial resources, but also equipment.
In the second half of the 19th century, the medieval area of Vila Alta de Alenquer underwent profound changes.
In 1870, the old Romanesque church of Santo Estêvão, the old parish church of the village, was demolished.
Years later, the old Porta do Carvalho or Santo António, a large part of the Fernandina wall, the houses that spread over the Encosta da Mesquita and part of the Misericórdia church building were also destroyed.
But without a doubt, the great transformation of that area corresponded to the construction of the new Municipal headquarters and the widening of the square that faces it. Until then, in that place the old and modest houses of the Chamber were built, built in the first half of the 17th century.
ALENQUER'S MUNICIPAL PALACE
Neoclassical in inspiration, built at the end of the 19th century, it has obvious similarities with the Lisbon municipal palace, built almost 30 years earlier, replacing the old Houses of the Chamber and Jugada, perhaps 17th century, demolished in 1885.
THE PROJECT AUTHOR
José Juvêncio da Silva (1853-1925), conductor of public works by the Industrial and Commercial Institute of Lisbon, served in this district, as head of road conservation (of the State), and in Alenquer as driver of works for the City Council.
Author of projects for other monumental buildings in Alenquer: that of the Chemina Wool Factory, held in 1889, and the Ana Pereira Theater, prior to 1892 and already executed in 1895.
With the project, the new Town Hall began to be built on March 7, 1887, and opened on January 2, 1890. Neoclassical in inspiration, they have obvious similarities to the Lisbon municipal palace built almost 30 years earlier.
The triangular pediment on the main façade has sculpted, in the center, the weapons of Alenquer (version of the time) on whose base the date "1887" is inscribed, flanked by allegorical figures representing Agriculture, Commerce, Industry and Progress, work by sculptor João Machado. Inside there are interesting stucco works, particularly in the prime room.
In the current Praça Luís de Camões, once the "Praça da Vila", where the garden, dated 1894, existed, until 1856, the pillory, meanwhile disappeared during the works.
Spacious, with an ornate plaster ceiling and geometric motif floors, with gray, black and white mosaics, it boasts two tombstones, placed in 1955, honoring the Alenquois killed in World War I (1914-1918), in Africa (provinces of Angola and Mozambique) and in France.
NOBRE SESSIONS ROOM - "NOBRE SALON
Decorated to classic taste, it is richly ornamented with wood and stucco.
The ceiling is profusely ornamented with floral motifs and medallions with allegorical themes: Art, Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, which involve the old weapons of the Municipality in a beautiful frame.
Worthy of mention, modeled on plaster, the busts of Damião de Góis, Pêro de Alenquer, Camões and D. Manuel I, illustrious characters linked by life or work to the village of Alenquer, a large tapestry with municipal weapons and other decorative elements on display.
ROOM DR. THEOPHIL CARVALHO DOS SANTOS
Originally the courtroom of the District Court is today the meeting and session room of the City Council and Assembly.
Conceived as an elegant scenic space, it develops in two planes: the highest is supported by metallic columns and topped by an elegant balustrade that overlooks the lower plane. Around it, the walls are decorated with stucco "fingers", which imitate polychrome marble ashlars.
The ceiling has a plaster relief with the national shield, to which the crown that topped it was amputated, shortly after the implantation of the Republic.
CUPULA OR ZIMBÓRIO
Fully glazed metallic structure, helps to illuminate the main staircase. Around it runs a balcony from where you can reach an interesting panoramic view of the village and some of its main buildings: Castle, convents of São Francisco and Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Casa da Torre, Church and Arcade do Espírito Santo, Chemina Factory .
The Municipality of Alenquer is the municipal body of this municipality and its mission is to define and execute policies with a view to defending interests and meeting the needs of the local population.
In this sense, it is up to it to promote the development of the municipality in all areas of life, such as health, education, social action and housing, the environment and basic sanitation, spatial planning and urbanism, transport and communications, public supply, sport and culture, consumer protection and civil protection.