Its settlement was motivated by the hereditary lands of the House of Braganza, whose began occupying their seat in 1461. The Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa was, for centuries, the seat of this noble house, before it was inherited by the Portuguese Crown.
Notable citizens 
- Martim Afonso de Sousa, 16th century Portuguese explorer.
- King John IV of Portugal, first king of the House of Braganza.
- Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England in the 17th century.
- Henrique Pousão, 19th century painter.
- Florbela Espanca, notable, early 20th century poet.
- Bento de Jesus Caraça, mathematician and economist.
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