The Alentejo Surprises, fantastic beaches, endless plains, unique gastronomy, both to see and live and savor.
Alentejo is the biggest of the Portuguese regions.
A vast interior, with immense plain, where blond cornflowers wave in the wind.
The amplitude of the landscape is only intersected by cork oaks or olive trees that resist time itself.
Its historical, cultural and architectural is impressive, buildings dating back to the Roman period, medieval churches and castles, and even remnants of the prehistoric period spread through here.
The Alentejo coast has some of the best European beaches, many are perfect for water sports, others, ideal for a family day and a good sunbath.
This region is also a wine lover, with many of its produced wines being amongst the best of the world. Hand to hand with the wine is the unbelievable Alentejo gastronomy, a match made in heaven.
What about the cities???
Let’s give two examples, the beautiful town of Évora, that sits at the feet of a mountain range bearing the same name, is so marvellous that UNESCO has named the entire place a World HeritageSite.
The designation is for “cultural landscape”, specially created for Évora and which includes the natural beauty of the mountains as well the historic characteristics of the town. Évora is 2,000 years old and overflowing with Moorish courtyards, Renaissance fountains, Gothic turrets, medieval squares and a labyrinthine of tiny streets.
The other town is Monsaraz, a walled medieval city, that looks like it has been taken from some Hollywood film, with a dazzling view of the biggest artificial lake in Europe the Alqueva lake.
The history of Alentejo is a mirror of its own country.
A country with occupation since the pre-history, in this region we can see many of these examples, like the Megalithic Monuments of Herdade do Xerez.
But, also battles, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, Mozarabs, Jews.
Portugal has been desired for many centuries.
The last people occupying this region were the Moor, who left a huge legacy, in culture, architecture, gardens, even the name of this region is a Moor heritage.
Afonso Henriques was reconquering the Portuguese land, and in Alentejo, places like the walled city of Monsaraz, were from extreme importance to control and maintain the borders, Afonso had the help of the Templar Knights to do so.
After this period many were the Christian works in this region, almost trying to make the locals forget their previous occupiers.
Alentejo has become far from this military memory, it has become a quiet, peaceful, deep breath region, that knows its place in the country and in the world, but likes to get things done in a calm pace.
First off all, just relax!
Alentejo is to be taken in a real slow paced pace, feel the sun, the heath and the gentle breeze.
Go on foot, bicycle or even by horse, the plains of this place feel like they never end, and invite for a long calm tour.
The Costa Vicentina beaches are a must to explore and to enjoy, prepare yourself for amazing sunsets.
Take a walk inside the walled town of Monsaraz, feel the medieval ambient, its castle and look at the Alqueva lake, or just don’t look, get a boat and sail.
If you are in Évora visit the Praça do Giraldo, one of the main squares where open air cafes serve delicious coffees to tourists, this was once the site of public executions, no need for alarm.
Don’t forget the Roman baths or the Roman Temple of Diana, and if you want to meet a real unusual place, you must visit the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones), yes, you read it wright.
The Chapel gets its name because the interior walls are covered and decorated with human skulls and bones. At the top of the front door, you can read the following sentence: “We bones that are here for yours we wait”
While they wait, remember Alentejo has some of the best wines in the world, indulge yourself.
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