Explore a walking tour in Castro Verde, amidst a landscape of great beauty and biodiversity, classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
WHAT YOU’ LL SEE IN the walking tour in CASTRO VERDE
Discover in this walking tour the Historic Centre of Castro Verde. The name of this village is due to the fact that it is thought that Castro Verde was built on top of a Lusitanian Castro, in a green (“verde” in Portuguese) area, which the Romans called Castrum Veteris.
Castro Verde is a pleasant village in the interior of Baixo Alentejo, in the middle of extensive plains, in the heart of “Campo Branco”, which resemble the steppes of Central Europe. Here we can see, predominantly, the fields of cereals (wheat, oats and barley) produced in dryland in poor soils, as well as extensive pastures for cattle (sheep and cows). These fields are dotted with holm oaks (acorn and firewood production) and cork oaks (cork, acorn and firewood), olive groves (olive oil) and vines (wine) and barley bushes.
This low-altitude habitat is a great place for bird-watching, as there are numerous birds living here, such as some of the most endangered species, including the Great Bustard, which is the most iconic and largest bird in Europe. In the region predominates the Mediterranean climate, with little and irregular rain, dry and very hot summer and cool winter.
In addition to the important cereal cultivation and cattle raising activities, Castro Verde has the Neves-Corvo Mine (12.4 miles, 20 km distant), which is one of the most important mining centers in Europe, being crossed underground by the Iberian Pyrite Range.
- Walking time (estimated): 2 hours (30 minutes linear path)
- Course Length: 1.6 miles+0.3 miles (2.5 km+0.5 km)
Map of the walking tour in Castro Verde
The numbers (#) on the Map and Text identify places to visit:
walking tour IN CASTRO VERDE
In this walking tour in Castro Verde you will visit several interesting places and monuments of this pleasant village of Baixo Alentejo, in the middle of the so-called “Campo Branco”.
=> The walking tour in Castro Verde starts at Sheep Roundabout (Rotunda das Ovelhas) at the bottom of Rua da Seara Nova, near the old post office building.
(1) The Sheep Roundabout (called the “Rural Environment Monument”) evokes the traditional economic activities of the area, evoking pastoralism and agriculture.
=> Follow to Praça da República, where you will find terraces in the center of the square and surrounding cafes. Next you will find the Igreja dos Remédios.
Remedies Church – Igreja dos Remédios
(2) The Castro Fair was established to fund the works of the Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (or Igrejas das Chagas do Salvador) around 1620. Inside there are walls lined with blue and white tiles and above it a set of large oil paintings depicting several episodes of the Battle of Ourique.
=> next to the Igreja dos Remédios is located the Municipal Market, a Space for Artisans, the Municipal Amphitheater and the Center for the Promotion of Heritage and Tourism of Castro Verde, with the Tourism Office.
(3) Information about the municipality of Castro Verde can be obtained at the Tourism Office. There you can buy regional handicrafts and products. This space has in its interior several traditional objects, such as the typical campaniça viola.
=> Continue to go down Rua D. Afonso Henriques to the Town Square (Praça do Município). This street is one of the most interesting in Castro Verde, as it contains part of the most important buildings and monuments. In this way, here you can see many interesting houses of traditional Alentejo architecture.
=> Notice in the beautiful and long garden of trees that give us its shadow, also the benches lined with blue and white tiles next to the beautiful flower boxes.
(4) In the Town Square (Praça do Município) you will find the Castro Verde City Hall with its stone pillar (Padrão) in front.
City Hall Building
This building of the City Hall (of the Municipality of Castro Verde) was designed in 1890, but due to the existence of a chapel on the site was only built eight years later. Its inauguration took place in 1913.
Padrão, Pelourinho or obelisco
In front of the City Hall is a monument, a stone pillar, called the Padrão (also called “Pelourinho” or “Obelisco”). Here there is a jasper locket and a stone with text below. This monument aims to evoke the Battle of Ourique. Initially it was placed in the locality of São Pedro das Cabeças. After being struck by lightning, that almost destroyed, it was placed in the current location.
=> Now go to the side where you have the Royal Basilica (or Mother Church).
Royal Basilica (or Mother Church)
(5) The 18th-century Royal Basilica of Our Lady of Conception (or Mother Church) is classified as a property of public interest. It is a single-nave building, lined with polychrome 18th-century tiles, containing a depiction of scenes from the Battle of Ourique. This occurred in the region and consolidated the Christian Reconquest in the twelfth century.
Inside the Church you can visit the Royal Basilica Treasury, which has a sacred art museum nucleus. At the rear of the Basilica you can enjoy a pleasant garden and a viewpoint that allows you to enjoy a magnificent horizon of the typical Alentejo landscape.
=> Continue down this old Castro Verde axis, Rua D. Afonso Henriques. At its end turn right into Largo Victor Guerreiro Prazeres. At the corner is the old jail (prison until the 1950s).
=> At Largo Victor Guerreiro Prazeres you’ll find the Igreja da Misericórdia (Church) and in the background the Art Factory / Regional Conservatory of Baixo Alentejo and the Roman Oil Lamp Museum.
Roman Oil Lamp Museum – Museu da Lucerna
(6) The Roman Oil Lamp Museum (Museu da Lucerna), opened in 2004, has an interesting collection of Roman lanterns (oil lamps and wick). Surprisingly, this is the largest collection of this type of lamps in the world, found in the same place, around 20,000 (!) Were found in Santa Bárbara dos Padrões. In fact, it was a place of Roman occupation with a rural sanctuary since the 2nd century BC. until 5th / 6th century d.c. Archaeological research suggests a sanctuary born from a source of medicinal waters where thousands of lamps have been deposited. In this museum is explained in detail the production and use of this object and its decoration with mythological characters, animals, plants, etc. Additionally there is information about where these objects were found. Admission to the museum is free.
=> Go down Rua 5 de Outubro, turn right onto Rua da Aclamação and find at number 60 the Taberna do João das Cabeças.
João das Cabeças Tavern
(7) The João das Cabeças Tavern is part of the Alentejo Tavern Route, which aims to perpetuate this rich Alentejo cultural heritage (the taverns). Thus, here are served only drinks, bread and a much-appreciated snack: wood-roasted lamb’s head. When we went there it was sold out, given the great demand!
=> Continue along Rua da Aclamação and turn left onto Rua Gago Coutinho and then left onto Rua do Cap. Henrique Galvão.
=> Then at the very beginning of Rua do Cap. Henrique Galvão, turn right onto Rua do Barranco de São Caetano until Rua do Moinho. There you’ll find the Pigs Roundabout.
(8) The Pigs Roundabout (Rotundas dos Porcos), called “Evocative Monument of the Porcine Fair”, recalls the natural environment and the traditional activities of agriculture and herding.
=> Beside find a huge unpaved space – the Largo da Feira. In that area there are several restaurants and in the background a mill. Cross the Largo da Feira to the Windmill.
(9) The Windmill, existing in 1813 and recovered in 2003, stands out for its white color and a blue bar, with large cloth sails on the outside. Then, enter the mill and climb to the upper floor by a narrow round stone stairs. Above you’ll find a large mill with a wooden mechanism, where you can see the grinding of the grains of wheat to produce flour, using the wind force.
=> Turn around Rua da Eira until near the restaurants (where you’ve been). Go up the Rua de Fialho de Almeida. In this street you will find several shops, drugstores, and regional articles, cafes, restaurants, hotel, banks, pharmacy, etc.
=> At 48 Fialho de Almeida Street you have the Panificadora/Pastelaria Constantinos (a Bakery and Pastry). In short, it is a traditional bakery (which uses the traditional yeast dough from the previous day) that bakes Alentejo bread and pastries made with the bread dough – língua da sogra, costas and popias caiadas. At No. 69 you’ll find a modern bike shop (Bikezone), at No. 38 Vila Verde Hotel and opposite at No. 65 Dona Maria House.
Dona Maria House
(10) The Dona Maria House (Casa Dona Maria) is a manor house from the early twentieth century of original construction. The building has a tower and a set of concrete decorative elements (trying to highlight the use of this material) and is lined with tiles.
=> Then go up Rua de Fialho de Almeida and arrive at the Castro Verde Municipal Cine-Theatre.
Castro Verde Municipal Cine-Theater
(11) The Castro Verde Municipal Cine-Theater (Cine-Teatro Municipal), opened in 1992. Here you can attend several types of events, cinema, theater, dance and much more. On the ground floor of the building there is a café with a terrace.
=> Go up Rua de Fialho de Almeida and reach the Sheep Roundabout (where you have been before). Continue straight along Rua da Seara Nova, past the Castro Verde Children’s Park. Next to this park you will find information about the Castro Verde Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO) and about vulnerable and endangered birds in the region.
=> If you have energy you can continue along Rua da Seara Nova, pass by the bus terminal and reach the Crystal Roundabout.
(12) The Crystal Roundabout (Rotunda dos Cristais), called the “Underground Wealth Monument”, has a sculptural crystal composition, reminiscent of man’s exploration of the underground ore for his benefit.
=> You have reached the end of the walking tour in Castro Verde. In the background is the Castro Verde Volunteer Fire Station building.
What To See And Do Near Castro Verde?
Bird Watching IN The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
In Castro Verde Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO), live numerous species of animals, some of which are threatened in Europe. Birds that use the cereal steppe for feeding, nesting and shelter include lush bustards, bustards, cranes, hunting eagles, imperial eagles, crested kestrels and black-bellied cortices. Among the most predominant birds are turtledoves, partridges, larks, quails, herons, white storks and many others, whose stay in the region depends on the time of year.
In the municipality of Castro Verde you will also find hares and wild rabbits, which are part of the diet of Iberian lynxes, foxes, mongooses and gynets. Next to the waterlines are otters, frogs, tortoises, salamanders and water snakes. Reptiles also inhabit the region, such as snakes, lizards and lizards.
Castro Fair (FEIRA DE CASTRO)
On the third weekend of October, there is the Castro Fair (Feira de Castro), which is the largest fair in Baixo Alentejo and one of the largest in Portugal. This fair began in 1620, by order of King Philip II, who created it to raise funds for the reconstruction of the Remedies Church – a fundraising that lasted for over 200 years.
In addition to the usual shopping at the fair, there are cultural activities and shows. Above all, we highlight the tradition of ‘Viola Campaniça’ Players and ‘Despique and Baldão’ Singers (Challenge “Cante Alentejano” Singing), something unique to witness! Note that ‘Cante Alentejano’, which is Polyphonic Singing from Alentejo, is classified as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO).
What to eat and drink in Castro Verde?
In Castro Verde, the local cuisine contains various traditional dishes such as ‘açordas’ (bread purée, herbs and garlic), ‘migas’ (bread pudding) and bread soups. The gastronomy has Alentejo pork and its dishes as a highlight, as well as chorizo sausages and ‘paios’ (smoked pork sausage). Additionally, the lamb stew and the roasted lamb head are also traditional. However in summer, when it is very hot, the strong dish is gazpacho.
The municipality of Castro Verde also has a wealth of fresh or dried sheep and goat cheeses, as well as curd cheese. Regarding traditional confectionery stands out the pastries made with the bread dough like ‘língua das sogra’, black-seed squash puff pastries, curd cheese ‘queijadas’ and ‘popias’.
Where to Eat in Castro Verde? (Restaurants)
Castro VErde Taverns
The Castro Verde Taverns are famous (which are part of the Alentejo Taverns Route), where you can taste snacks, such as the João das Cabeças Tavern, described above.
Location: Rua da Aclamação, nº 60, Castro Verde
“O Bombeiro” Restaurant
The “O Bombeiro” (the fireman) restaurant, as the name implies, is next to the Castro Verde Volunteer Fire Station. This restaurant has simple, typical Alentejo dishes at economical prices. The service is efficient, the space is simple, in a large square room with two huge windows. With packed tables but where everyone has their space. It is a very popular restaurant (by residents) because the food is good. We ate pork with clams and also ‘iscas’ (fried liver) with boiled potatoes and it was very good. We highly recommend it!
Location: Rua da Seara Nova, next to the Voluntary Fire Station, Castro Verde
Tourist Office: Telephone 286328148 or www.cm-castroverde.pt
Also in the Alentejo, and nearby you can discover the beautiful museum village of Mértola. Other interesting points to visit are also Beja, Ourique and Almodôvar.
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