Alchochete has a strong history of bullfighting and our Virtual Tourist friends brought my sister and I (who were visiting in Septmeber 2009) to the arena where there was a nice statue of a bullfighter matador. Apparently, during the summer months they have special events like the "running of the bulls"! Wish we saw that....but we just settled for just reading the posters and just walking around the Alcochete Bullfight Arena.
There is also a bullfight museum in Alcochete which was unfortunately closed during our night visit. It is "integrated in the building of the association Aposento do Barrete Verde and its heritage includes collections of costumes, photos and assorted documents. There are also three rooms depicting the saline workers, the “forcados” (men who face the bull directly) and the horsemen."
Just lose yourself totally in Alcochete. This is my advice in order to thoroughly enjoy this wondrous little place. In doing so tho, one can never truly get lost around the village simply because it is so tiny. But, accordingly, this is the best way really to enjoy Alcochete.
Pick any ancient street and like all it leads down eventually to the central square or praca as is called in Portuguese. Here you have the focal point of the village surrounded by little stores and restaurants most of them specializing in seafood cuisine. As you find a place to sit on the many benches dotting the central plaza and under the canopy of many stunted trees, you are inescapably confronted by the marvelous sight of Alcochete's main igreja or church at the far end of the street - the Igreja de Sao Baptista. It is an endearing little church from the 1500's which seem to emit a certain aura in all its whiteness from the blazing sun especially at the peek of one bright afternoon.
The old houses in Alcochete are simply memorable and they are numerous within the old village itself. Their architectural style is unmistakably old Portuguese which harks back to early 1800s and very possibly from early on. To stroll around them and then pause to take a peek, to examine and admire is so much worth one's time in Alcochete.
From here one can easily and must take it the path which straddles along the town wall which sets the boundary between town and the River Tejo estuary. Under the enormous Canary palm trees you are well advised once more to stop for a minute, take a seat among the benches, and enjoy a most unforgettable view of the river, the pastel-painted river front houses, the long pier that extends far into mid-river, the view towards Cerradinho da Praia which is the newly established part of Alcochete and on the opposite direction, the beaconing horizon of Lisbon.
An "igreja matriz" in Portugal is a designation for a Catholic church that has jurisdiction over other smaller churches within an ecclesiastical jurisdiction (according to the Portuguese Wikipedia).
This Church, not too far from the main esplanade in the center of town, has the name of St. John the Baptist and it's believed that its oldest parts were built in Gothic style in the 15th century. Inside there's fine azulejo works that are very common in Portugal, and some tombs where important people are buried (I couldn't read the names).
In 1910 the Church was designated "Monumento Nacional" (national monument).
The town center in Old Alcochete is one of the cutest parts of town, with cobblestone streets and a feel of being "in another world" compared to the modern part of Alcochete, or as if time went slower here hehehe. The street leading to it (which I can't remember the name right now) has some restaurants with outdoor servings, and I really enjoyed seeing the smaller side streets crossing this big street.
The piece de résistant of the town center is the big esplanade with several other restaurants/cafés with outdoor sitting, in front of the City Hall and a few steps away from Igreja de Sao Joao Baptista. The Sunday I walked around town, there were activities for children, like throwing a hoop to a bottle and some ball games.
When I visit a new city, I like looking for a place where I can get a panoramic view. Better if from above, but not necessarily.
Walking by the shore and past the boardwalk, we found the miradouro Amália Rodrigues. Amália is the one and only Queen of Fado, born in 1920 and passed away in 1999 after a successful career as a Fado singer.
From the miradouro you get the same nice views as from the boardwalk, but here there's a restaurant with outdoor tables under some palm trees, in case you want to have a drink or a bite to eat.
The boardwalk/marina was my absolute favorite place in Alcochete. From here you can, on a clear day, have gorgeous views of Old and New Alcochete, Lisbon and Ponte Vasco da Gama, the second longest bridge in Europe. During the summer there's a typical Portuguese boat called alcatejo, and you can take a boat ride to the natural reserve at the Tagus Estuary and do some bird watching.
The Portuguese King D. Manuel I, greatly responsible for the golden era of the Portuguese Discoveries, and the architectural style Manuelino, being the Jeronimos monastery in Belém a good example of this style, is the most famous citizen of Alcochete.
The great King was born in Alcochete on May 31 of 1469, and died in Lisbon on December 13 of 1521. He was known as the Venturous King, and it was during his reign, and under his influence, that Vasco da Gama first reached India by Sea, and Pedro Alvares Cabral reached Brazil.
He is honored in Alcochete with a statue on the main Rossio Garden, where we can read His Title: “King of Portugal and the Algarves, From over the seas in Africa, Lord of the Trade, Conquest and Navigation in Arabia, Persia and India”.
Right in the town centre, in the square near the town hall, lies the main church of Alcochete.
It's an old gothic church built over the ruins of an old mosque, and devoted to Saint John, the Baptist.
Built in the XV th century, the building was associated to the "Infante" D. Fernando, the father of the great king D. Manuel I.
The building has been renovated since the XVI century until as late as 1943. The bell tower is from the XVII century.
On the interior the walls are covered with beautiful portugues blue tiles.
The church of mercy stands right in the river banks, next to the pier. It’s story is a bit of a mystery since there are no documental evidences that can help dating the time of its construction. It is said the church was a part of the Palace where the great Portuguese king D. Manuel was born.
Nowadays the church os used to house the museum of religious art, and the tourist information office.
Located at the river beach with the same name, stand the old windmills, right next to the river.
They were used until the beginning of the last century, and mostly during the time when Alcochete was mainly an agricultural town, supplying Lisbon with cereals and flour.
Nowadays they are no longer in use, but are located in a nice place for a walk, or just for relaxing in the beach, under their shade.
At the Town Hall is possible to book a ride in the traditional boat "Alcatejo". The ride takes you to the natural reserve, it´s very relaxing and provides different vues of the town. At same parts of the River Tagus, you almost feel like you are sailing in the high sea.
Besides a large number of good restaurants (with every price range available), and the old church, the town centre also includes the beautiful Rossio garden, along the river bank, and a nice number of outdoor Cafes and Bars, just perfect to take advantage of the sunny days we have in Portugal. Alcochete is also the birthplace of one of the most important kings in the history of Portugal - D. Manuel I.
Just outside the town of Alcochete lies the Freeport Outlet, which is probably the most know association to the name Alcochete.
Many Tourists come visit the Outlet, and go away without visiting the town. And that's a shame because they miss on the river, the beautiful sunsets and the old town centre and its delicious restaurants with fish specialties.
The King of Portugal and Algarves was born in Alcochete. During his reign, Portugal flourished and grew in international power.
The Moinhos beach is a great place to hang out, sit down by the bar or by the garden, or stroll along the sands of the river bank.