From Estremoz to Reguengos

A journey that begins with a tour throughout the area of marble and vineyards, and then goes along the defenses of the border, ending with the artificial lake of Alqueva in sight.

As this tour begins in Estremoz, do not leave the city without a visit, either to the walls or to the high donjon. Do not forget, though, the Living Science Center, dedicated almost exclusively to the secrets of geology, the Center endeavoured the installation in the city and its outskirts of a scale model of the solar system, this causing the representations of the most remote planets to be located in villages away from town. A coffee and the local delicacies - gadanhas - at Café Águias d'Ouro in Rossio de Estremoz, may be the ideal snack for the trip. Have a view of the city walls and ramparts that protected if from the enemies. Leave the town towards Borba, which will enable you to see the huge "craters", allowing them to go stalking the enormous 'craters', open for the exploration of marble, some of them worthy of a Hollywood scenery. If Borba is the capital of marble and wine, nearby Vila Viçosa is very different. Here the monumentality is evident, as it was the seat of the powerful duchy of Bragança that would eventually lead to the fourth and last dynasty of kings of Portugal. The most obvious monument is the palace, with its dozens of geometric windows open in the marble façade. But the castle is also worth visiting, also because of the museums here installed by the Foundation of the House of Bragança. Hunting weapons and animal-powered vehicles are highlighted, including the landau aboard which King Carlos and his heir Prince Luis Filipe were murdered in the Terreiro do Paço, in February 1908. Moreover, Vila Viçosa is a nice land where one feels like walking around, as there is much to see.

 

Proceed south on the way to Alandroal, by a road not straight at all: either up and down, or with successive curves, showing that Alentejo is not really a flat land. Castle of Alandroal can be seen far away, standing out in silhouette of the village. From its walls one has a wide sightseeing. If you wish to have your meal here, there are several options available.. You can also make a longer tour, going northeast to meet the Guadiana river and the Juromenha fortress, defending its banks. Here begins the great reservoir of Alqueva, as you will see from the walls. Further south, another town and another castle: Terena. It is a quiet spot, perched on the hill, with narrow streets lined with immaculately whitewashed traditional houses. It is worthwhile to go up to the walls and see the views of Terena between the waters of the Lucefecit and Alqueva dams. Another point not to miss is the Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova, rare example of a rural church-fortress with battlements and multiple roofs. Now, to move towards Monsaraz, you may leave the EN255, cutting short by the secondary network, via Cabeça de Carneiro, Seixo and Motrinos. It is an interesting landscape that will provide closer and closer perspectives of the citadel of Monsaraz.

 

 

Before ascending to the top, you can stroll through the village of Telheiro and see the menhir, or the banks of Alqueva reservoir, very close here. There are several paths, some of them paved, that lead, for example, to the area where it was submerged the old Moinho do Gato, one of the finest mills of submersion of the Guadiana, with a large dam and the mill itself in shale and prepared to withstand the river flooding. It can remain submerged without significant damage, for several days. Finally, you can climb to the old village of Monsaraz. The huge expanse of water that extends at our feet evidences the huge transformation of the landscape. But Monsaraz, a medieval citadel still inhabited, has a lot to show, justifying leaving the car in one of the outdoor parks and spend a good part of the day out here. You can also pass the viaduct to the other side of the dam and see the town of Mourão and its castle and the two villages of Luz: one, which is almost submerged, and the other which was built a few kilometers away, o take its place. Finally, it is time to embark on the final part of the tour, accomplishing the connection to the seat of the county, Reguengos de Monsaraz. Along the way you will inevitably pass by São Pedro do Corval, an important center of handicrafts, including the famous dishware painted with colorful patterns.

 

Access: By A6 or EN4, until Estremoz.

 

To have into account: You can make an addition to this tour visiting the fortress of Juromenha, taking the EN373, from Alandroal.

 

When: spring or autumn.

 

Length: Some 100 km.

 

Meals: Adega do Isaías (T. 268322318), in Estremoz, Restaurante do Zé do Alto (T. 268449574) and A Maria (T. 268431143), in Alandroal.

 

Other spots to visit: Ponte da Ajuda, Praça-forte de Elvas.

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