Defenses on the bordee

From Portalegre to Alegrete and from Ouguela to Campo Maior, a glimpse of the medieval and seventeenth century fortresses defending the Alentejo borders. A path that always includes the cave paintings of Esperança.

This itinerary, in its first part, unfolds though the São Mamede mountains and natural park. This is a different, mountainous, green and rocky Alentejo, quite different from the commonplace of plains and cornfields. The first stopping point is the peak of São Mamede (1027 meters) where, on a clear day you will have splendid views, almost to the sea and the two sides of the border. Continuing southeast, towards Alegrete, the scenery does not change, being much greener than one would expect in Alentejo. Alegrete is a very interesting town with plenty of traditional houses and a medieval castle reasonably preserved. Do not miss the breathtaking view to the south, from the top of a slope that seems steeply cut and beyond which the endless plain begins. Henceforth, follow the signs to Esperança and then to Hortas de Baixo, so that you may enjoy the rock carvings of the mountain, the most important in this region, and witness to the antiquity of human presence on this site.

 

The next destination is Arronches, a picturesque village rich in heritage that we will cross in our way to Campo Maior. Campo Maior became the Portuguese capital of coffee, given the importance of coffee roasting plants located here. Furthermore, a recent museum illustrates the history of this drink spread throughout the world and the secrets of its preparation. If you come here on the year of the Flower Festival, be sure to stay around and enjoy the wonderful environment offered by the streets adorned with thousands of paper flowers. See also the mighty castle which defended that border, since the medieval era, and which, after 1640, was given a new outer wall adapted to the use of artillery. To complete the tour, go north to see one of the most beautiful and unknown fortresses of the Alentejo, the Ouguela, which supported the defensive perimeter of Campo Maior and Elvas. It is a quiet place, surrounded by a friendly village, with the river marking the border running right next door.

 

 

 

 

 

Access: By IP2, from Estremoz and the A6 node.

 

To have into account: The roads of São Mamede Natural Park are narrow, winding and not always well marked, so, you should take are some precautions.

 

Length: Some 80 km.

 

Meals: O Escondidinho (T. 245 202 728), A Gruta (T. 245 201 402) e Café Império (T. 245 203 852), in Portalegre.

 

Other spots to visit: Marvão, Castelo de Vide e Elvas.

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