Circular Routes Stage
8 / 12.5 Km
This route is the most inland of Rota Vicentina and where its highest peak can be found, in Moinho da Serra. You will hike through the picturesque village of S. Martinho das Amoreiras, over valleys where fresh springs provide water throughout the year, soft wavy fields are home to the slowly grazing cattle, and forest filled hillsides offer breathtaking landscapes.
Currently S. Martinho das Amoreiras has just over 1000 inhabitants, who work mainly in forestry, farming and livestock raising. There are some high quality, hand crafted goods that are produced in this parish, like honey, the medronho spirit and olive oil. Many even say that the traditional bread of S. Martinho is the best in Alentejo.
In the transition from the village to the countryside, small vegetable gardens and orchards are flanked by old stonewalls and streams shaped by ancient stone ditches. In the backwaters, the salamanders and newts reproduce. Birds such as jays, azure-winged magpies, carrion crows, cuckoos, woodpeckers, warblers, european stonechats, bee-eaters, partridges and chaffinches, abound in the hedges of laurel, quince, willow and fig. Ancestral trees such as pines, cork oaks, cedars and eucalyptus are also present, and are the perfect place for the nest of a very special bird of prey: the Bonelli’s eagle. With luck, you may spot it on the route, the most likely place being by the mill. The traces of wild boar are also ubiquitous along this special trail.
Especially abundant on this route is the green-lavender (Lavandula viridis), rarer than the purple-flowered lavender (Lavandula stoechas). The spring brings out the calamints, gum rockrose, shrubby everlasting (curry plant), as well as medicinal plants such as Pterospartum tridentatum, Lithodora prostrata, lady’s glove and Algerian tea. Other plants that provide great color to the fields are the dwarf furze, Cynara algarviensis (endemic to the southwestern Iberian Peninsula), johnny jump, sage-leaved rock-rose, purple phlomis,Aristolochia paucinervis, sea squill, hyacinth, Anarrhinum bellidifolium and the small lilies.
This territory has been inhabited since prehistoric times, which can be seen in the archaeological site, the Pardieiro Necropolis, 7 km southwest of S. Martinho. This site reveals several characteristics of the community that lived here 2500 years ago (1st Iron Age). Near the eleven tombs of the necropolis were epigraphic steles, or stone slabs with inscriptions, on the southwest script. This was the first form of alphabetic writing on the Iberian Peninsula.
Three population centers, Amoreiras, S. Martinho and Conqueiros, fought for centuries over the seat of the parish, but it was S. Martinho who won the dispute, with the mother church being built there on the 18th century, under the auspices of the Order of Santiago de Espada, and inspired by the baroque, rococo and neoclassical styles.
Where to start
S. Martinho das Amoreiras
In the parking lot next to the Junta de Freguesia.
Rules and Recommendations
Do not forget to visit the bakery, famous for its wood-fired bread, where the wood comes from the gum rockrose bushes.
Moreover, take the opportunity to enjoy the alcôncoras – the famous sweets from Amoreiras!
This course has two options, be aware of the markings for each one.