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.
In 2027, Evora will become the European Capital of Culture and as you wander around its old town you can see just how much the city is preparing for this honour with lots of restoration work going on, and a tangible feeling of excitement in the air. One venue that has already been rehabilitated is the compact Museu da Misericórdia and church in Rua da Misericórdia.
We’re always looking for short-drive destinations that are within 100km radius from Estremoz to get away for a few days in our self-built camper—and one of our favourite places to visit is the Rio Tejo (Tagus) that delineates the northern border of the Alentejo region in Portugal. Over the past few years several river beaches (praias fluviais) have been set up along the banks of the river,
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.
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.
Due to its geographical position bordering Spain, and the animosity that existed between the two countries down the years, it seems that just about every town and village in the Alentejo has some kind of defensive remnants—and Juromenha right on the banks of the Guadiana River that divides Portugal and Spain is a fine example.
Once an important powerhouse, the fortress at Juromenha looks out across the peaceful river and beyond to the plains of Olivenza in Spain. Today, left in ruins, it is a shadow of it’s former self and when you visit it is hard to believe that it once played such an important role in the on going skirmishes with the Spanish.
I own a copy of a lovely coffee table book called ‘As Mais Belas Vilas e Aldeias de Portugal’ (Portugal’s Most Beautiful Towns and Villages), which I bought way back in the 1980s—and even though I have moved country a couple of times in the interim, I still have the book with me.
One of the most intriguing places that always stood out for me was the village of Pavia, in the Alentejo, and it makes sense that it was one of the first places that I wanted to visit when we moved here in 2020.
As most of Portugal is slowly coming out of lockdown, we decided it was time to venture out and explore the local countryside a little better. It was also our five-year anniversary and a good excuse to dust off Olive, our 1971 VW beetle, and enjoy a little bit of a road trip.