Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Almendres Cromlech, Monsaraz and Vila Viçosa, Portugal, October 24, 2018

Good Mood Hostel provides breakfast with the room price but the Portuguese must all read the same 'guide to breakfast' handout because they all serve the same thing:  slices of ham and cheese, fresh buns, coffee, tea, cornflakes and cocopuffs.  Cocopuffs - that's so weird to me because there are many nutritious cereals in the grocery stores and it isn't as if young kids stay in hostels.  Oh well, I really like it when breakfast's included because it just makes the mornings all that much easier.

I walked beside the aqueduct on the way to my car.  It's very low inside the walls-

But gets higher-

And higher once outside the medieval town-

I was on the road by 10, heading to Almendres Cromlech which is Portugal's Stonehenge.  It's a megalithic complex - that means it uses big stones to construct monuments.  It's one of the largest group of structured menhirs- standing stones in the world.  It's about 100 feet by 200 feet and it was just discovered in 1966.  The stones are solid granite and it is believed to date from 6000 - 3000 B.C.  It was used either for religious/ceremonial purposes or as a primitive astronomical observatory-

I'm still wearing my 'uniform'-

There is another single stone a couple kilometers away.  It has a crooked engraving on it that is related to the pastoral/agricultural culture of Neolithic people.  Its alignment corresponds with the other rocks at sunrise on the Summer Solstice- 

Cork trees are everywhere!  The cork has been removed on the bottom or dark part of the trunk.  The light green part is cork-

The number is the year when the last cork was removed, so this was 2011.  Almost time again-

It is pretty thick too-

I drove on nice paved country roads to Monsaraz, population 782.  It's one of the oldest settlements of southern Portugal.  The fortress on the hill was the basis of pre-Roman occupation, then later it was occupied by the Visigoths, Arabs (8th century), Mozarabs, Jews and Christians. The views are exceptional-

The main entrance into the castle-

Other side entrances with different shapes of doors-

The end opposite the main entrance has a small theatre-

Monsaraz from the castle-

The streets are narrow cobblestone and the buildings are bright white-

There are many styles of pottery-

From Monsaraz, I drove through the country again on my way to Vila Viçosa-

New vineyards-

 Every village seems to have a castle up on its highest point-

Marble is mined in the area-

Once in Vila Viçasa, I parked and wandered.  What a beautifully tiled building-

Their castle-

The church of Saint Bartolomeu looks more like city hall from the outside-

But inside it's all church-

Main Streets always have beautiful boulevards and many statues and benches-

Winter pruning: before and after-

On my way back to Evora, I passed this 908 meter long go kart track.  Nico would have loved this-

I had another big day and am enjoying relaxing at the hostel.  I'm off to the beach at Lagos in the Algarve tomorrow for the next week.  Looking forward to each day!

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