“High, immense, enigmatic, its physical presence is right away an obsession. But a certainty even more alive is added to this stunning reality: the fact that all the local realities derive from it. Are there rivers in Beira? They come down from Estrela. Is there cheese in Beira? It is made in Estrela. Is there clothing in Beira? It is woven in Estrela. Is there wind in Beira? It is blown by Estrela. Is there electrical energy in Beira? It is generated in Estrela. Everything is created there, everything dives its roots in its large maternal womb.
It commands, caresses, punishes and redeems. Frozen and surly, it parches what is born without its blessing; worm and lightened up, life around it sprouts and blooms. Marão separates two worlds — the world of Minho and the world of Trás-os-Montes. Caldeirão, in the opposite pole of Portugal, imitates it as it can. But Estrela does not divide: it concentrates.” Miguel Torga
|We continue our trip through the rye fields and swamps, where the sheep are put out to graze. Nears the cascades (of Fervença and Covão da Ursa), we reach the highest village in Portugal (1080 metres): Sabugueiro. Located in the heart of Serra da Estrela, there is the largest glacial valley in Europe, Vale do Rossim. It is part of the Bioenergetic Reserve of the National Park of Serra da Estrela, its beauty and its scientific environmental value are undeniable.
It is a place of extreme beauty formed by a big lagoon which was in the past one of the best pastures for the transhumance flocks. Today leisure activities can be practiced here: abseiling, walking tours and canoeing, among others. We continue towards Manteigas and start our visit with a guided tour to Burel Factory, a millstone in the history of the Town of Manteigas and of the Portuguese wool production. After lunch we go up to Covão da Metade and to Nave de Santo António.
Here we can see the immense glacial valley extending as far as Manteigas. We continue going up and now to the highest point in the mountain, Torre!
It is now time to go down and return to Sabugueiro with a stop in Lagoa Comprida.
|Integrated into the recovery programme of the Historical Villages of Portugal and classified as “public interest heritage”, Piódão is located in Serra do Açor, involved in a unique landscape. The inhabitants are mainly farmers and shepherds, but, in recent years, tourism has been responsible for giving a new life to this village, mitigating against the effective desertification.
An amphitheatre layout, houses with walls made of schist, windows painted in a blue used in the Maghreb and roofs in black slate turn the village of Piódão into a true treasure. The houses, the village’s trade mark, composed of two floors, the first floor used as residence and the ground floor used to store implements, are protected by a wooden cross, decorated with laurel and olive leaves, which invokes the protection of Santa Bárbara and keeps “what you can see and what you can’t”. From the buildings in the village, we stand out the Church, in honour of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, which contrasts as to the colour, given that the outside was painted in white and also differs from other churches in Beira, being instead similar to the churches in the South.
The community barn floor (where the cereals are dried and threshed) and the fountain of Algares (small spring, with an ogival arch built in schist) are places to visit. The village of Cabeça, located in a granite hill, is surrounded by terraces irrigated by a complex channel system. With approximately 200 inhabitants, the activity of farming is based on traditional methods. When Christmas comes, this village becomes a true Christmas crib. The rural houses made of schist are the village’s trade mark. The Parish of Cabeça is known for the homemade soups prepared by the population. We invite you to try the chestnut soup with pork loin or the vegetable soup prepared the old fashion way.
Return to Sabugueiro
|Loriga, Alvoco da Serra In the village of Loriga, settled in a long spur and inserted in the flanks of the higher plateau of Serra da Estrela, there is the only river beach located in a glacial valley. The landscape characterised by terraces and their complex irrigation network form part of the village historical heritage. Loriga is one of the most beautiful lands in the mountain thanks to its extraordinary landscape and geographical location.
We head to Alvoco da Serra, located between Loriga and Unhais da Serra. The natural resources and the strength of men turned this village, until mid-eighteenth century, into an important wool production centre. It has a rich artistic heritage, especially as to sacred art (Main Church and São Pedro Chapel).)
Return to Lisbon
[i] The itinerary may be adapted according to the interests expressed by the participants
- Private transportation
- Private guide
- Free WiFi
- Pick-up at your Lisbon hotel is provided
- Bottled water
- Itinerary according to the program description