When entering the natural park of "Serra de Aire e Candeeiros" you may be hit by the strange landscape, where eolic generators dispute the domain of antennas and tourist adaptations. It's a wrong idea, and the park still has some wild areas.
It's especially impressive the descent from Casais Monizes to Alcobertas. The road is surprisingly straight, and the descent is done in a wide scenery, almost giving the sensation that you are flying.
More than 200 meters above sea level, in a large valley in the southern end of the Natural Park of Aire and Candeeiros, a very salty spring is an odd event, that becomes the most distinguished reference of Rio Maior.
Locals trade salt (and anything else tourists decide to buy), in a line of wooden cabins, to resist to the salt.
Fifty years ago, Rio Maior was, for me, a garden surrounded by houses, with a small sporting field, where I went to play Hoquei on wheels or handball.
Nowadays the field is gone replaced by modern pavilions, and the garden won an also modern church, but it is still there, respected by the city's development.
Oh my God!
I was not proud with our "Cruzeiro" in Turquel, remembering the nationalist purposes of its construction, during dictatorship (and at its service).
Anyway, I accepted that it was a distinguishable element, bad or good, inevitably part of our history.
And now, I find in Rio Maior... a twin. In location, I couldn't find any difference. Back home, comparing photos... there is no difference at all.
Oh my God! How many of those stones did the dictatorship plant in Portugal?
The salt mines of Rio Maior, considered unique of its kind in the country, situated 3 kms from the center of Rio Maior, is an interesting landmark, and a legacy from ancient times. Composed of 400 "fields" occupying an area of more than 20,000 sq m, the water derived from the mines by the use of big "Picotas" believed to be introduced by the Arabs, is 7 times saltier than seawater. Salt was extensively mined during the Roman and Arab times. It was also known that during the time of King Afonso V, he received a quarter of all production, thus having practically a monopoly of its sale.
The salt mines are an interesting natural phenomena. The salty water comes from a deep and extensive mine where water passes, thus making the water very salty. These days, the work in the salt beds are seasonal, mainly during summer.
Around these salt beds are typical wooden houses where they store the salt. Some of these structures have been converted into restaurants and small coffee places, others selling locally made souvenirs.
There is really nothing astonishing in Rio Maior but the old centre of town still has some personality, with old churches and mansions recently recovered.
"Baptized" as the house of culture, this modern building is an auditorium with 250 places, built in 2006 by the municipality.
I remember the old small and nice church of Rio Maior and entered for the first time in the new one.
Wide, modern lines, the best of it is the access - easy to reach and... park.