Stroll and explore at your own pace Aljezur through a walking tour in one of the main villages of the Vicentina Coast in the Algarve.
WHAT YOU WILL SEE ON A TOUR IN ALJEZUR
It is a tour in the Historic Centre of Aljezur, where you will walk through old houses in white terraced between Aljezur River and the Castle. In this pleasant village, you visit the main points of interest, mainly linked to the Islamic presence and the Aljezur River, and enjoy the excellent view of the surrounding landscape. Take water and comfortable shoes!
Aljezur is a quiet village in the Algarve (al-Gharb, in Arabic means west), near the Atlantic Ocean coast, set in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park. The village had its peak in the Islamic occupation of Al-Andaluz (8th-13th century), which left customs and traditions that still remain, and a great importance in the medieval period. However, Aljezur is today a major tourist center for surf and beach lovers, unique and wild (Atlantic Ocean) and offers excellent cuisine.
- Walking time (estimated): 2 hours (30 minutes in linear path)
- Course length: 0.6 miles (1 km)
Map of TOUR IN ALJEZUR
The numbers (#) on the Map and Text identify places to visit:
WALKIN TOUR IN ALJEZUR
In this tour in Aljezur you will visit the main museums and places of interest, strolling through the streets of houses of rural Algarve architecture, with white terraces and platbands of various colors, to the castle on the hill overlooking Aljezur River.
=> The route in Aljezur starts at Largo do Mercado square, where the Municipal Market is located. There you will find a panel of tiles where a view of the village is painted and the places of interest are marked.
(1) In the Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal) are mainly sold products from the vegetable gardens and the sea. This is a small market where you can find fresh fish stalls, vegetables, fruits, honey and other products from the region.
=> Cross the bridge over the Aljezur River to Largo da Liberdade.
(2) Aljezur River (Ribeira de Aljezur) surrounded the village and turned it into an “island”. Subsequently, the 1755 earthquake have silted up the Aljezur River, which until then was navigable.
The Aljezur River takes, next to the village, its name and results from the junction of two streams. After passing through the Salgados area, meandering through sweet potato and peanut gardens and pastures with animals, Aljezur River arrives at the mouth of Amoreira Beach.
Next to Largo da Liberdade you will find, on the banks of Aljezur River, large ash trees and willows and a small garden with benches, where you can rest and enjoy its shade.
Along the Aljezur River it is possible to observe the huge biodiversity. Among the animals that live there are otters, tortoises, rabbits, as well as countless seabirds and others (herons, larks, jays, blackbirds and more), whose song you can hear. Indeed, you will also find a wide variety of Mediterranean vegetation along the Aljezur Stream, from the village to the estuary and mouth, such as poplars and alders.
=> Then follow Rua João Dias Mendes until nº 13, where there was an old mill. Although you currently find a interesting cafe there.
=> Meanwhile, continue along Rua João Dias Mendes street until the Aljezur Archaeological and Heritage Defense Association.
Aljezur Archaeological and Heritage Defense Association
(3) On the premises of the Aljezur Archaeological and Heritage Defense Association (Associação de Defesa do Património Histórico e Arqueológico de Aljezur) you will find a wealth of tourist information, as well as original pieces and a model of a German fighter plane that crashed near Aljezur in 1943. Surprisingly, this followed an unprecedented air combat between Nazi German aircraft and Allied forces on the Vicentina Coast, in Portugal – a neutral country in World War II!
=> Then continue to Largo do Pelourinho, where you will find the statue of Infante Dom Henrique, in a small gazebo, next to one of the alleyways to the river and the old Aljezur Port.
(4) Here it is recalled the memory of this thriving old port of goods, where large boats were selling fish, cereals, wine, olive oil, animals and other vegetables. The Aljezur River, navigable until the 18th century, allowed boats to access the interior of the territory, making up to this time the Aljezur Port one of the most important ports in the Algarve and the only safe port between Alcácer do Sal and Sagres.
The 1755 earthquake destroyed much of the town and led to the siltation of Aljezur River, the decline of the Aljezur Port and the construction of a new hamlet on the other bank of Ribeira. Although along its banks you can still see the old mooring track patterns.
=> Then go up slightly to Largo 5 de Outubro, where is the Municipal Museum.
=> If you continue along Rua Dr. César Viriato França you pass an Old Cistern, where the boat crews supplied drinking water (it became a prison and is now a dwelling house). Nearby would be the Casa da Portagem and the Estalagem, next to the Aljezur River that welcomed the travelers who arrived by boat with board and lodging.
(5) The Municipal Museum (Museu Municipal) is located in the old building of the town hall. It is a white building with spans painted in blue, having been built in the 19th century. Inside there is not only an art gallery with temporary exhibitions, but also several museums that invite you to visit the past: the Andalusian Legacy, the Archaeological Nucleus and the Ethnographic Nucleus.
At the heart of the Andalusian Legacy is the archaeological estate of the Islamic period, with a focus on pottery and a precious treasury of Islamic coins from 10th-11th century.
This nucleus displays artifacts from the beginning of humanity, obtained from excavations in the municipality of Aljezur.
The Ethnographic Nucleus shows the ethnography and traditions of the municipality of Aljezur, where you can see various objects used in the traditional daily activities of farmers, shepherds and fishermen, such as carts, plows, hoes and fishing gear. There you will find the recreation of a traditional kitchen and bedroom with furniture and household items.
=> Next to the Municipal Museum is the Largo do Pelourinho (15th century stone column that existed here) and in front of it there are gazebo with the statue of D. Henrique. From here you can enjoy the floodplain and see in the background the new village of Aljezur.
=> Go up Rua de São João de Deus to the Church of Mercy, which has next to it the Museum of Sacred Art.
Church of Mercy / Museum of Sacred Art
(6) The Church of Mercy (Igreja da Misericórdia) was built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 18th century after the 1755 earthquake. It is a single-nave building with a perfect-back Renaissance stone portal, engraved with “1577” and with a quadrangular window on the outside.
Next to the Church is the Museum of Sacred Art (Museu de Arte Sacra), which is housed in a old hospital, from the eighteenth century. This space exhibits pieces on this theme from offerings and places of worship of the region.
=> Follow by Rua do Gabão and then Rua do Castelo until nº 2, where you can visit the Painter José Cercas House-Museum.
Painter José Cercas House-Museum
(7) In this House-Museum is the collection of the painter José Cercas (Casa-Museu Pintor José Cercas), who was born in Aljezur and lived here his last years. In fact, it is a peculiar museum where, among the divisions of the house, you can see the collection donated by the artist, as paintings and drawings of his own and other national artists, as well as crockery, faience, sculptures, furniture of various times. Next to the house is the garden, from where you can admire the castle, the river and the green landscape.
=> Continue along Rua do Castelo and then up Rua Dom Paio Peres Correia to the Castle.
(8) Aljezur Castle (Castelo de Aljezur) was built by the Arabs in the tenth century on a hilltop for the protection of the people and the port. In the 13th century, it was conquered by Christians and was the last castle to be taken in the Algarve. The castle, of polygonal plan, suffered the weathering, visible on the walls and the two towers. In the latter, it should be noted that the tower of circular plan controlled the entrance of the castle and the other tower, rectangular, is at the opposite end. Inside the castle there is a cistern with a rectangular vault of the Muslim period, several silos excavated in the rock for storage and various structures of a possible barracks. However, the castle was no longer used in the late 15th century.
The walk to the Castle is a bit demanding (you can also go by car), but it is undeniably worth it! From there you have a privileged view of the horizon, from where you can see the white houses of the village of Aljezur, the fertile fields of the floodplain (where the famous Aljezur sweet potato is produced, classified as a Protected Geographical Indication) and the Monchique Mountain.
From the castle you can see Aljezur River, which meanders through fields where rice was previously produced, to the beautiful Amoreira Beach in the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, one can imagine what the hustle and bustle of this place would be like a few centuries ago, when the river was navigable.
=> Go down Rua Dom Paio Peres Correia and later on turn right to Rua Nova until the end, where is the Antonian Museum.
(9) The Antonian Museum (Museu Antoniano) is housed in the building of the former 17th century chapel of Saint Anthony of Aljezur. From 1809, the building was a private dwelling and, in 1995, began to serve as a museum dedicated to St. Anthony, where it displays coins, medals, books and paintings on this subject.
=> Go down the right side of the Antonian Museum, through Rua de Santo António and turn right onto Rua da Ladeira, where you can see a former Public Fountain. This stone “landmark” supplied the village population with water, therefore it was a place where people lived together.
=> Continue along Rua da Ladeira until the end and reach Rua João Dias Mendes, with Largo da Liberdade in front. In this garden, admire the tile panel representing the Medieval Bridge, which existed here until 1947.
=> Then cross the Pedestrian Bridge (over the Aljezur River) to Largo do Mercado, and reach the end of the tour in Aljezur.
What To See And Do Near Aljezur?
Surf the Vincentina Coast
Aljezur is located on the Vicentina Coast (Natural Park), which has undeniably excellent surfing spots. Given the good conditions of its beaches for learning this sport, you will find here several surf schools.
Amoreira Beach, at the mouth of Aljezur River, is a beach with few people and can be a good option to surf in summer, when the winds are not strong.
In the shape of a cove, Arrifana Beach is one of the most beautiful in Portugal and is very popular for surfers with various levels of experience.
Canal Beach is set in an idyllic setting and is difficult to reach by car (preferably by 4×4), it is recommended for more experienced surfers.
Distances from Aljezur: Amoreira Beach 5.6 miles (9 km), Arrifana Beach 6.2 miles (10 km) and Canal Beach 6.8 miles (11 km).
VISIT THE AMOreira BEACH
Amoreira Beach is where the Aljezur River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. In the middle of a tranquil landscape, you can enjoy either a sea beach, cooler waters and crashing waves, or a fluvial (lagoon type) beach with warmer and calmer waters. In short, it is a beautiful beach with a vast golden sand, great for relaxing! Nearby you have the Monte Clérigo Beach which is undeniably one of the Most Stunning Beaches in the Algarve.
VISIT Ribat da Arrifana RIBAT
About 5.6 miles (9 km) from Aljezur is Arrifana Ribat. Curiously, it’s the only Islamic Ribat identified in Portugal (in Spain there is another). This fortress-convent, situated by the sea, was both a place of strategic defense and religious reflection. From there you have a spectacular view, where you can see some of the beautiful cliffs and beaches of the Vicentina Coast. Nearby you can also enjoy Arrifana Beach.
What to eat and drink in Aljezur?
In Aljezur, the local cuisine has undeniably great variety and quality. Fresh fish and shellfish caught on the long coast are served in traditional recipes such as tasty stews. And don’t forget to enjoy the goose barnacles, caught in the rocks by the sea.
In this area, the sweet potato is queen, being cultivated in the fertile lands of the municipality of Aljezur, used in the typical dishes, pastries and cakes. Likewise, taste ‘papas mouras’ a corn porridge, where cumin is added. Finally, try the aromatic arbutus-berry brandy (aguardente de medronho) distilled in traditional copper stills.
Where to Eat in Aljezur? (restaurants)
Pont ‘a pé Restaurant
The “Restaurante Pont ‘A Pé” is a popular place, situated next to Aljezur River in Largo da Liberdade square. Here you can taste the good regional and Portuguese cuisine. Noteworthy are the fish, seafood and meat dishes and the typical desserts, which include desserts using the region’s sweet potato, almond and honey.
Location: Largo da Liberdade, 12, Aljezur
A Tasquinha dos BorrALHOS
If you want a light meal at a nice price, you have the “Os Borralhos”, near the entrance of the Municipal Market. In fact, it serves great snacks, such as octopus, roe and tuna salads, toasts and more. The desserts are excellent and the terrace service is good. Enjoy!
Location: Largo do Mercado, Aljezur
What to buy in Aljezur?
This tour in Aljezur is complete with suggestions of what to buy in Aljezur. From the handicraft of the area stands out the works and baskets in wicker. Also, goods like rag blankets with various patterns, lace and embroidery, furniture, chairs and wooden spoons, which you can use at home. As well as typical alcoves, baskets and rugs in esparto (herbaceous plant of the Algarve).
Tourist Office: Telephone 282998229 or www.visitalgarve.pt/en
Costa Vicentina Surf School Association: http://www.algarvesurfschoolsassociation.com
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