Belmonte is an interesting town in central Portugal near Portugal's border with Spain. Belmonte has a castle built in the 13th century (see the picture) which was transformed into a fortified manor house in the 15th century by the family of Pedro Alvares Cabral, the Portuguese "discoverer" of South America (Brazil). Cabral was born in the castle, which now hosts theater and music festivals in the courtyard.
The new 16 room Discoveries Museum uses some impressive high technology to illustrate the voyages of Cabral and other Portuguese discoverers who set off for destinations like Brazil. It's a very good place to bring your kids--as special interactive displays bring these places and voyages alive in a very visual way.
Belmonte is also host to a community of marranos, Jews forced by the inquisition to go underground with their religious traditions to become Crypto-Jews. You can learn all about the Jewish community in the new and informative Jewish Museum of Belmonte (Museu Judaico de Belmonte), located in a remodeled eighteenth-century Catholic school. Jews in Belmonte to this day are still quite secretive about their religious practices, according to Rachel Nolan writing in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Your history lesson can continue with a stay at the Convento de Belmonte, which you'll see and read about next.