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Discover Castro Verde in the Alentejo Region of Portugal

Oct 10, 2007
Castro Verde, in the core of Campo Branco, has as one of its greatest attractions, its landscape. Experiencing the climb to such places as S. Pedro das Cabe or to Nossa Sra. de Aracelis, gives you an impression of the plain's grandness. The wide cereal steppes shelter a natural patrimony rich in avifauna, where one can spot species like the Great Bustard, thanks to recent preservation efforts.

Going into the Environmental Education Centre will allow the visitors to access the necessary information and gives an opportunity to participate in properly organized nature trips. Together with the natural environment, its people are the other great wealth the municipality has to offer its visitors.

It is in this harmony between Man and Nature that the whole calm of the place might be felt. It is in its simple way of life, in the action of Man over Nature and of Nature over man, that the values of this land reside.

A trip throughout the different parishes will allow you to discover white villages and towns, where the light smells like the south, just as much as the cuisine of some restaurants has the odour of tradition.

For those looking for more genuine surroundings, going into the local taverns might just allow an encounter with the traditional singing (the cante) and the ways of tasting both time and wine. There is a whole rural tradition cohabiting with a new way of life.

Sprayed with little chapels this plain has in its history roman origins and a strong bond with its mining activity, but, most of all, it was the stage where the Ourique Battie unfolded which you can recognize in the theme of the most important religious monuments.

If what you are looking for is a calm stroll around the municipality, enjoying the slow passing of time, do not forget to take care of your accommodation.

We suggest that you should start by the lovely Town of Castro Verde where you will find a well you should visit the village which is noted for its religious heritage, like maintained town, besides the kindliness of the people and the Tourist Office that will be able to give you all the necessary information.

Go to the Remedios Church where historical paintings allusive to the Ourique Battle stand out, the Royal Basilica with its remarkable azulejo panels that tell the story of the mythical battle, and the famous treasure where some of the municipality's most important pieces of sacred art direction can be admired.

You should continue your visit through the Museum of Lucerna and the Fairs and Exhibitions Park, where every year the famous Castro Fair is organized. This renovated space has a working windmill and an Exhibitions Pavilion.

To finish this quick visit town, take notice of the several examples of public art where there stands out roundabouts bearing sculptures with the motives of some of the municipality's main areas of activity sheep breeding hog raising and pyrite mining.

Take lunch hour and follow to ENTRADAS that has developed into an enjoyable place to sit around a table, where some new restaurants keep using the traditional cuisine While here The Misericordia Church (XVIi century), the Mother Church (XVili century) and the Nossa Senhora da Esperanca chapel (XVi century).

Before returning to the plain, delight yourself with the observation of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca Avenue and its beautiful gardens. Come back to Castro Verde and take the EM 535 (in the Casevel direction) to continue your visit, The wonderful Campo Branco

plain is still ahead of you beyond where the eye can see There are not many elevations which is the reason for chapels like the Sao Sebastiao in ALMEIRIM to stand out.

Do go through the village and notice the very fine taste in the yellow and blue colours used on the houses and even on the bus stop. Go back to the EM 535 and you'll find immediately to your left the S. Miguel chapel clearly distinguishable amongst some ruins.

Getting to the village of CASEVEL, which was once a municipality in its own right -but not for long, observe the local architecture where the Mother Church is most prominent.

As to the artistic assets, there is a unique piece that is most noticeable, an over eight hundred year old jewellery item, the celebrated Sao Fabiao relicary head that is the central piece of the Castro Verde's Royal Basilica Treasure.

In the Town of Casevel you will find a good opportunity to come in contact with the traditional Alentejo's cante and those that give their voice to it.

The Associacao de Cante "Vozes das Terras Brancas" ("Voices of the White Lands"), which is just by Largo Central, has its headquarters open to the public and one can go there to hear the cante, have a snack and appreciate some traditional tools.

Before you go back to Castro Verde to get some deserved rest, visit AIVADOS and appreciate the curious chimneys, besides the rest of the local architecture. Take the sense of OURIQUE-GARE and come back to Castro Verde, where you can have dinner and spend the night.

Continuing on your way take the EN 123 up to SAO MARCOS DA ATABOEIRA; the steppe is also a predominant landscape here and the parish is classified as an ornithological interesting site where some conservation experiences of local species are underway.

In what concerns the patrimony, this locality invites the visitor to look carefully to some traditional architectural details, of which the Parochial Church (XVII century) is a good example.

A few kilometres away from the locality of SAL TO, on the boundaries of the Mertola municipality, you can find on the top of a hill the Nossa Senhora de Aracelis chapel, a place of ancestral pilgrimage where the natural landscape is endowed with unique beauty.

Go back to the EN 123 (in the Castro Verde direction), take a left when you get to the CM 1138 (in the direction of Sta. Barbara de Padroes) and go all the way down to a place called ROLAO until you get on to the EM 508.

Take these road, stroll around the village of VISEUS and continue to SANTA BARBARA DE PADROES. Modernity here comes out at the roundabout that represents, with nine emblems, the parish's nine localities.

On an archaeological level it was also in Santa Barbara de Padroes that, around the Mother Church, several hundred original roman oil-lamps were found, dating back to the first century.

The activity of this parish is deeply connected with its underground riches, for it is here that one can find the Neves Corvo Mines, the biggest copper exploitation of all Europe. Go south through the CM 1139, and don't miss BERINGELINHO where you can stop for a little rest.

Afterwards, continue going south and take a left at the CM 1140 to visit SETE, which is the biggest locality in the parish. If you feel like it you can also visit FIGUEIRINHA and GUERREIRO and come back to the CM 1139 until you get to LOMBADOR where they still produce, even if in very small amounts, the artisanal hand-woven woollen covers. Go and visit A-DO-CORVO where you can appreciate its Church built in 1984.

You have now got to the "end" of the municipality and you have reached A-DO-NEVES. Take notice of the boundary limits mark indicating the "way out" and "way in" of the municipality that has as its motive a sculpture A Window Over the Plain.

Take the EM 508 (in direction to Castro Verde) and come back through NAMORADOS, which you can see from a distance with its windmill.

On the crossroad that shows the way to Geraldos keep on going straight for a few metres and pay a visit to MONTE DAS OLIVEIRAS, a farming and cattle-raising unit, where one can find a colony of White Storks and a small ethnographic centre on life in the countryside.

Go back to the crossroad that shows the way to GERALDOS and take the chance to visit SAO PEDRO DAS CABEAS where the Ourique Battle is supposed to have taken place.

You will find here the S. Pedro chapel and from this slight elevation you can take in the immense landscape. The reference to the Ourique battle (fought in 1139) is pointed out in this spot by a modern evocative monument , with an armillary sphere and a flagpole.

Go up to Castro Verde and to finish your tour to all the municipality sites take the EN 123/ IP 2 in the Ourique sense and take a left on the CM 1134 up to PIARRAS where flower pots give the doors of the houses a joyful look and where the main square is still the spot for all gatherings.

The tour around the municipality is over, but there is still a lot more to be seen, not only in the handcraft of the area but also in the environmental aspects. It is now time to visit the ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTRE OF THE VALE DO GONALINHO, the departure point to the discovery of the Natural Patrimony.

It gives you the choice between thematic trips like Avifauna Observation and Paths in the Special Protection Area.

To get there you should leave the urban area of Castro Verde by the old road to Entradas (nowadays parallel to the IP 2 -out of Castro Verde through Av. General Humberto Delgado, from the Rotunda do Minerio) and, after 7 kms you'll find a sign post showing the way.

The plains landscape gives you the rest and the will to want to stay longer over here. The traditional cuisine, the sun and the people will guide you through some very different days!
About the Author
Alentejo Home is the Real Estate specialist in the Alentejo region of Portugal between Lisbon and the Algarve. Find out how we can make your dream come true at >Alentejo Home Real Estate
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