As we are still only just discovering the Alto Alentejo region of Portugal, for us camping is all about experiencing new places that are not necessarily long road trips away. So in late April we drove to Vimieiro, a village that is only 30 minutes from Estremoz in the district of Arraiolos.
The art of producing the unique socks that come from the tiny Serra d’Ossa village of Aldeia de Serra sadly has almost died out with only a handful of women still making them today.
I was really looking forward to seeing these ‘prehistoric’ cave paintings – as I had never seen any before – until a friend pointed out that they are actually around 5,000 years old, so not really pre-historic. More like Bronze Age rock art created by hunters and gatherers.
In early April we were fortunate, as members of the Terras D’Ossa Association, to be invited to take part in a guided tour of Vila Viçosa. The theme of the walk was the use of marble in religious buildings in the town—churches, convents and other religious monuments. You may think this sounds like it could make for a boring morning, but far from it!
Having been living full-time in Estremoz, Portugal, now for a year and four months, all of that time under the cloud of Covid, we were beginning to feel a little restricted. So we decided to look around for a suitable van for nights away, or to ‘pernoitar’ as the Portuguese say, and a chance to get out and explore the country.
This week, a friend suggested we go to see the winner of Portugal’s Tree of the Year, as it is just down the road from Estremoz in Vale do Pereira, near Arraiolos.
In collaboration with the children’s cancer charity Acreditar, local non-profit organisation, Terras d’Ossa, is set to host the 1st Solidarity Walk in the nearby Serra d’Ossa—and everyone is invited to take part!
When we made the decision to move permanently to the Alentejo, and specifically Estremoz, we were unaware of the Serra d’ossa and didn’t know that it would become so important to us. But once we discovered it, we soon became drawn to making weekly forays into its hidden depths, hardly ever meeting another living soul.
The traditional clay figures of Estremoz, or Bonecos de Estremoz, in 2017 were recognised by UNESCO as being an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity—and are part of the cultural identity of the town.
Although this monument is a little way off from Estremoz, the Anta Tapadão at Aldeia da Mata really is worth a visit as it is one of the most accessible and complete dolmens in the country.
An hour’s drive north from town, Aldeia da Mata is a small village in the Portalegre district. As you draw close huge rock formations begin to appear in the surrounding fields – some even used as fences or outbuildings by local farmers – conjuring up an ancient medieval atmosphere before you arrive at the historic site.