The Region > Things To Do
Swimming in Reservoirs/Lakes
There are numerous reservoirs/dams (Barragems) in the area where one can swim, fish or pursue other water sports. These include Barragem de Apartadura (near Marvão), Barragem de Caia (at Campo Maior/Arronches), Barragem de Maranhão (at Avis), Barragem de Montargil (near Ponte de Sor) and Barragem de Povoa (at Castelo de Vide). Generally you need to take your own equipment, though hire is usually possible at Avis and Ponte de Sor.
Public Swimming Pools
There are many open air public pools in the area, often found in spectacular settings, and usually with cafes and restaurants attached. The particularly attractive pools at Monte Carvalho and Reguengo are probably the closest, being within 15 minutes drive. There is a new open air pool at Portagem and a complex at Elvas on the road between Elvas and Estremoz. Pools also exist in Arronches, Avis (next to Club Nautico), Campo Maior, Castelo de Vide, Estremoz, Evora and Vila Vicosa, and there are bound to be others.
In Badajoz, about 45 minutes away and just over the border in Spain, there is Lusiberia water park with wave machine and slides.
The Serra de Sao Mamede Natural Park is one of Europe’s most beautiful and undiscovered areas and is perfect for walking.
Its varied terrain includes forest, wooded hills, olive and chestnut groves and fertile valleys. Walks are often on ancient tracks that may date back to Roman times. The walks are particularly beautiful in the Spring when the wild flowers are very much in evidence.
There are waymarked, mostly circular walking routes within the park. There are also many walks to be enjoyed directly from the property and João will be pleased to point you in the right direction.
Virtually all the larger villages and small towns in the region have defensive structures of one sort or another. Whilst a few date back to Roman times, the majority are Moorish in origin both on the Portuguese and Spanish side of the border. After the Moors were eventually driven from the area, many of the castles passed into the hands of the Knights Templar and other chivalrous orders and many of the structures were extended. Marvão is a typical example and because of its isolated and impractical position from a commerce point of view, it has remained virtually unaltered for centuries. Other castles in the area worth a mention are in Castelo de Vide, Alegrete, Ouguela, Juramenha and Albuquerque (Spain).
A few towns played an important part in the Peninsular War. Prime examples are Elvas and Fort da Graça where the ramparts were substantially reinforced to withstand assault by the cannon of the 1800s.
Megalithic sites and Roman remains
The Alentejo has many megalithic sites dating back to the Celtic age in 3000BC. Some of the best examples can be found at the Coureleiros Megalithic park near Castelo de Vide. There are four main megaliths (Dolmens or Antas) in the park. All were constructed without tools and consist of a chamber and corridor that faces East towards the rising sun. It is thought that they were used as burial chambers, though no-one is really sure. Close to the park and near the village of Povoa e Meadas is the Menhir of Meada, which at over 7 metres tall is reputed to be the tallest single standing stone in the Iberian peninsula.
The most notable local Roman excavation is the settlement of Ammaia just outside Portagem near Marvão. Further afield Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains many Roman remains. About an hour’s drive away, Merida in Spain is an impressive Roman site: the aqueduct, theatre, amphitheatre, circus and museums are spectacular.