This tour takes place in Alentejo, the Central Region of Portugal, a largely agricultural place where we will see expanses of olive trees, vineyards, citrus groves and cork oak plantations in addition to many medieval towns with their defensive castles, churches and plazas. We will travel along eight cycling circuits from Marvão to Évora, roughly 256 miles of largely traffic-free back roads. This is a region with its own pace and time, with echoes of past battles beyond the walled cities created by the tenacity of the people, where culture and spirituality take on a unique character.
We will cross sections of the Serra de Mamede, a remote mountain range with a diverse geology and capricious climate, a unique endemic flora and fauna and an historic line of defensive settlements, necessitated by a hostile neighbor in times past. In 1989, 120 square miles of the Serra de Mamedes was designated a Nature Park by the EUROPARC Federation. As we descend into the Alentejan plains, we will find concentrations of megalithic stones (dolmen) that mark these places, signifying that pre-historic habitation occurred here as well.
We will visit the historic center of Évora, designated a UNESCO site in 1986, with time to explore these important cultural places. We will also visit a museum that specializes in explaining the production of olive oil, a workshop where local pottery is produced and a small studio that produces extraordinary clay figures called the Bonecos of Estremoz, the designs and production recognized in 2017 as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
We will be traveling through a region where five of Alentejo’s eight demarcated wine regions are located with world-class wines we will be sampling along our route.
The walled towns of Marvão and Monsaraz or the many ancient dolmens will recall the magic of this region. Around the hills, white-washed houses stand on small knolls, castles evoke past battles and conquests and the gardens we will pass bear witness to the Moorish influences that shaped both people and nature. Here, we will also discover lilac fields, watch unique birds and find unforgettable landscapes in the mountain, in the cork oak forests, or on the plains in the olive groves. The freedom and relaxation we will discover cycling along these lightly-traveled country roads will be a feeling that will stay with you long after our tour is over. And then it will be time to do it all over again!
Come join us on this exciting natural adventure for a unique look into the past and the present of a region that has maintained its authenticity for centuries!