Outside Evora, Évora
I would have to say that the rolling hills of the Alentejo, dotted with cork oak, orange and olive trees amongst wheat fields was probably the most relaxing and visually appealing countryside that we drove through. No work was involved in negotiating mountain turns and changes in elevation. Simply get onto the secondary highways and just cruise leisurely along with your arm out the window while you smell the countryside! Amazing!
Comparison of this site to Stonehendge is not entirely fair. After all, it is 2,000 years OLDER! But you will get a general idea.
There are many large (human height) unevenly polished boulders arranged in a large circle with a couple of more boulders. A couple of them still show signs of etchings. The stones are arranged in a pattern to indicate solstices, and were probably used for some agricultural prediction.
The most amazing thing about this site is that it has surivived. The second most amazing thing is that it is obscure and located on a private farm. Get here before it is swarmed with tourists and you have to pay $$$. Just follow signs on the highway going West out of Evora. Beware that you will have to follow a poorly graded dirt road through cork trees for a portion of your trip. But seeing this place is well worth the effort in finding it!
It's the biggest group of structured boulders in the Iberic Peninsula. It dates back to the neolitic period, around the 4th and 5th milleniums BC (so, older than Stonehendge!).
It was probably a religious place or a primitive astronomic observer. Some of the stones are decorated with engraved circles and inscriptions - it's fascinating! And it's free!
To get there, just follow the signs on the road after the highway, or ask the locals who will help you gladly. The last part of the way is a dirt road, and it's isolated, but it's well worth the visit!
The Cromlech dos Almendres Magalitic site is hidden in the woods West of Évora. You need a taxi or car to go there. This is the largest megalithic monument in the Iberian Peninsula. It was built around 7000 years ago when the Neolithic period started; 2000 years before Stonehenge was constucted. It was a community of shepherds and farmers.
The monument has around a hundred monoliths, some of which are decorated.
Tu-Sa: 9.30AM - Noon and 2PM - 6PM
We all bundled into taxis and took a trip out to Almendres to the west of Evora. After a long drive we came to place that was full of Megalithic Standing Stones. They were put there by people throughout the Neolithic period 4th to 5th century in two stone circles. I have a personal theory that these stone circles were like a calendar for the year, people knew where they were in the year when the shodows of the sun aligned with the stones. It's not possible to know exactly why these stones were put where they were, perhaps on a site of high magnetic energy where the ley lines of the earth cross. Putting your hand on the stones makes you think of long ago when these stones were part of a culture of mystical magical times. I wanted to feel the energy but if it was there, it was very low grade. Perhaps if we had had more time, walked in a certain pattern on a certain day at a certain time of the year, something may have happened. I intend to return some day.
Please do read the website, it is extremely informative and has brilliant pictures.
It's free to enter and wander around.
The large, but rather unattractive fort, has survived from the times of intense competition between Portugal and Spain.