Discover Portugal from “Portas do Rodão” to the heart of Serra da Gardunha: The Blossom Cherries.
This route offers us an experience of scenic value, the result not only of the whims and strength of nature, but also of man’s persistence in preserving the traditions of ancient times. After the quartzite mountains and the hardness of granite, we are dazzled by the beauty and fragility of the cherry blossom.
Vila Velha de Rodão
Ray village, in the district of Castelo Branco and bathed by the river Tejo. The importance of the village comes from its old defensive function and, later, from its port, which allowed the circulation of goods and people, between Beira Baixa and Alentejo. Until the construction of the railway in the second half of the 19th century, traffic was very active and the crossing of the Tagus River was done through a barge bridge.
We find the “ex-libris” of the region, located on both banks of the river, in the municipalities of Vila Velha de Ródão and Nisa. A stream, excavated between two imposing quartzite mountains, considered a natural monument in 2009, by the Institute for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity: the “Portas do Ródão”.
The waters of the river, now tamed by the Fratel dam, flow calmer than in the past, when the sirgas (old walls) provided support for river navigation to the Tagus harbour. It is also possible to see the typical picareto (rowing boat) that carried products and passengers through what was, for many centuries, the only way of communication.
The coloured scarps, according to the seasons, by the heather flower, broom and cistus, are covered with scrubland (strawberry trees, juniper, lentisco, myrtle and other species) that give shelter to a very diverse and rare avifauna. Such as black storks, griffon vultures (the largest colony in the country), eagles and the royal owl.
The region was referred by some scientists as the “last ecological paradise” because, due to the mild climate and orography, plants, animals and men chose this place to live. As for men, CIART (Centro de Interpretação de Arte Rupestre do Tejo) disseminates, through an exhibition, the different cultural expressions of the prehistoric inhabitants of the region.
City of Beira Baixa, owner of a rich cultural and historical heritage. Old manor houses, churches and chapels, decorated with gilded carved elements or completely covered with tiles. A remarkable cruise, classified as a national monument and the former Episcopal Palace, sixteenth century. The famous baroque garden where the lakes, the waterfalls and the statuary, among the boulevards, invite to the meditation.
Donated to the Order of the Templar Knights by the first Portuguese king, the city has expanded around its castle. From this castle, only the walls survived, but from the top of the hill it is possible to glimpse the upper course of the river Tejo, until the raial area. From the medieval town, the name of the streets resists, witnesses of the artisan activities (street of the Blacksmiths, of the Oleiros, of the Peleteiros , …). Commercial dynamics to which was not unaware, at the end of the fifteenth century, the Sephardic community that established itself here after the expulsion from Spain.
Land of notables, saw the birth, among others, the doctor and university professor, João Rodrigues, better known as Amato Lusitano. Persecuted by the Inquisition, ended his days under the protection of Sultan Solimão, the “Magnificent”.
Located in the middle of Cova da Beira, stage of the cherry trees in flower, between the Gardunha and Estrela Mountains. Location that gives it very special characteristics for the development of pastoralism and agricultural practice, enhancing the production and exploitation of endogenous products of unique quality. Like the cherry of Fundão or the chestnut, the honey, the wine, the oil, the wild mushrooms. Also cheese and sausages among others, which have always been the basis of the gastronomy of the local population.
The first written documents dating back to the Middle Ages testify to the existence of the locality of ‘Fõdom’ which, in the 15th and 16th centuries. It developed on the basis of prosperous manufacturing (linked to woolenware). This richness of the nucleus is visible in the then construction of five of its unique five-century chapels.
The blessed land, the region of Cova da Beira, offers us scenarios that are now, in spring, embellished by the immense white of the cherry trees in flower. Its plantation, started more than 100 years ago, benefited from the microclimate of this region that offered the country the largest area of cherry trees.
In the middle of the Serra da Gardunha, near the Roman road that connected the north and the south of the mountain. During the trail we stop at viewpoints that allow us to see the cherry plantations. The waters of the streams, clear and crystalline among the pine, pseudotuga and sequoias forest.
The artisan activities such as the esparto workshops (plant collected in Serra da Gardunha) and the basketry (chestnut wicker). And the “refogadouros” (places where one treats