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.
When we decided to move to Estremoz and make our home on the outskirts in a place called Ameixial, we had no idea that an important battle had been fought right on our doorstep. We were even more surprised to find out that the battle of 1663 was led by the Duke of Schomberg and included a couple of thousand English troops in Estremoz.
It is no secret that Portugal’s Alentejo is full of historic places that in some cases date back to Neolithic times. It is a land that encompasses many secrets of humanity and this is what makes it such an important part of Portugal’s cultural heritage.
Portugal, or Lusitania as it was known at the time, was the western most province of the Roman world, with it’s capital very close by in Merida (just 80 kilometres across the border into Spain).
Early evidence of the first settlers in the Estremoz area dates back to Neolithic or Stone Age times. With over a thousand individual megaliths in the Evora and Estremoz region of the Alentejo alone* it is testament to an early civilisation having made their home here.