The dry tones give way to mountainous green landscapes that stretch to the Tagus River. The villages with whitewashed houses dot the land of pastures and cork trees that fill the horizon.
From the picturesque town of Avis to the climb to Marvão, through the city of Portalegre and the trails of Serra de São Mamede, here we are in a deep Alentejo, rustic and simple. An Alentejo to be enjoyed at the earth's pace and time.
On the road towards the north, we uncover the diversity of Alentejo at every minute. Further south on the way, historical Avis, Alter do Chão, and Ponte de Sor keep memories of Portugal’s History and traces of the Roman Empire. Surrounded by the calmness of their natural beauty, they become real-life postcards. In Alter do Chão, the Coudelaria Real founded in the 18th century by King João V is a must-see. An essential tourist attraction for the lovers of horse riding and the Lusitano pure-breed horse.
To the east, near the border with Spain, two more symbols of the Alto Alentejo, Elvas and Campo Maior. Elvas houses the largest bulwarked fortress in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you reach the city, you’ll see the massive Amoreira aqueduct, stretching for over 7 km, one of the calling cards of the city. At the table, the traditional dessert “sericaia” with Elvas’ plums is ever-present.
Founded in the 12th century, Portalegre is the district’s capital and the entryway to Serra de São Mamede enveloping the city with valleys and hillsides between 400 and 600 meters high. The mountain transforms the landscape and makes natural heritage one of the city's most significant assets, a city that's already historically relevant.
The mountain transforms the landscape and makes natural heritage one of the city's most significant assets.
Because of its proximity to Spain, the city was one of the main Portuguese defence points in the Middle Ages. Wandering the winding and narrow streets of the historic centre, you can still see the access gates to the city, and the majestic Portalegre Castle and the Cathedral take us in a journey back in time. The cuisine -- after all, we are in Alentejo -- is full of taste-worthy peculiarities such as the Boleima de Portalegre, a local sweet made with bread dough.
Leaving the city behind, the Natural Park of São Mamede unveils an unexpected Alentejo worth exploring through its trails that take you to Pico de São Mamede, the highest peak south of the Tagus River, 1027 meters above sea level. In this idyllic scenario, we come closer to Marvão. Within its walls, we go up to the Castle, and from the Torre de Menagem tower, we see one of the most remarkable views of Alentejo.
Continuing in this mountainous backdrop, don’t skip visiting Castelo de Vide. Once again, whitewashed houses on cobblestone medieval streets go up to the Castle. On the way, unveil traces of Jewish presence, particularly the Synagogue at the Bairro Judeu (Jewish Neighbourhood) in the city.
Waters of the Alentejo Coast
Refuge from the Routine
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