In the municipality of Montemor-o-Novo, the Palaeolithic cave at Escoural is around a 70-kilometre drive from Estremoz. Signposted from Arraiolos, it’s easy to locate and although small, with only one main chamber, it is said to have the oldest cave paintings in the whole of Portugal.
All visits to the cave must be organised in advance with the guide by calling the number below or by sending an email. There are two visits per day from Tuesday to Saturday at either 10:30h or 14:30h with a maximum of 10 people per visit. You have to wear a hardhat because of the low ceilings, no photos allowed and the visit lasts for around 45 minutes. The guide speaks Portuguese and English, but please enquire for other languages.
Palaeolithic cave paintings
The cave, which is on private land, was only discovered in 1963 while locals were quarrying for marble. The cave art, although not easy to distinguish does date back to an impressive 30,000 years BC, so for anyone interested in paleontology it offers a remarkable experience. Even for general visitors like ourselves, it is amazing to think of how long ago man lived here and created the images of horses, cattle and other animals. These are in two forms: rock paintings using natural pigments and engravings etched into the walls.
The temperature in the cave is a constant 18º all year round, which helps maintain a rather calming and spiritual atmosphere. Evidence was found of later cave dwellers too, with bones and pottery fragments from the late Neolithic period – a mere 3,000 years BC.
As the Escoural caves are only 25 kilometres from the Cromlech dos Almendres megalithic complex, it is a good idea to combine a visit to the two!
Times of the visits: Monday to Saturday at 10:30h and 14:30h
Cost: €3 per person or €1,50 if over 65
Tel: +351 266 769 800 (call between 17:00h and 18:00h)
More info: here