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.
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.
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.
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.