Serra D'Ossa and the zone of Marble

The Alentejo has a clear vocation for Activity Tourism and for Nature Tourism. The beauty of the landscape invites excursions on foot, on mountain bikes and on horseback, and the country lanes known as estradas municipais, despite the absence of cycle lanes, are excellent for cycling-tourism.

On the rivers, the reservoirs and the coast, many water-based activities are possible. The beaches are of the highest quality. And the sky, with this fantastic climate, is ideal for parachuting, paragliding, ballooning and microlight flights.

The range of hills of the Serra d’Ossa, reaching barely 650 metres in height, is the main area of high land in Central Alentejo. It is oriented NW-SE and its centre is close to the council areas of Estremoz, Borba and Redondo. From its slopes run the streams which feed, on one side, the Guadiana basin, and on the other, the Tejo basin. Contrasting with the relief here present, essentially schist, extends the so-called Zone of Marble, on an axis linking Estremoz, Borba, Vila Viçosa and Alandroal.

It is not possible to get to know one without passing through the other. Nor is it desirable: with such diversity of landscape and such abundant riches in terms of heritage, travelling in this region is an absolute must.

We would offer two suggestions: one travelling through the Zone of Marble by bicycle or by car; one walking along some of the signposted pathways of the Serra d’Ossa.

For the first excursion, you do not need many directions; it is enough to choose the secondary roads which connect the urban centres, bearing in mind that the best route for seeing the enormous craters caused by marble quarrying is the one that connects Borba, Vila Viçosa and Bencatel. But take care, because the movement of heavy lorries is considerable. As a complement, you should visit the Museum of Marble in Vila Viçosa, its centre of attraction being the presence of this "white gold” as the greatest exponent of its heritage, and thus being ”the cherry on the cake”!

The discovery of the Serra d’Ossa is a less obvious prospect. In the 1960s it underwent the planting of the largest continuous area of eucalyptus in Portugal (6,000 hectares). However, in some parts, it maintains its original montado (cork woodland and pasture), together with scrubland of cistus, gorse, furze and lavender. Although these Mediterranean oases can be found at various points on the Serra, the easiest way to come across them for yourself is by walking excursions. We would suggest two: PR1, "Percurso das Antas” (dolmens excursion), 5.9 kms, easy, with departure and return in the village of Freixo (Redondo); and PR, "São Gregório – Memórias da Aldeia”, 5kms, easy, with departure and return in Aldeia de S. Gregório (Borba). They are both interesting from the point of view of the environment, landscape, archaeology, and also for the observation of many aspects of Rural Life. The informational leaflets are available, respectively, in Redondo Tourist Office and in Aldeia de S. Gregório.


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