The Historical Way Stage
Starting at the train station of Sabóia, this route, the longest of Rota Vicentina, meanders along the Mira River. In it, we feel immersed in the vastness of the space, sounds, and colors of nature. There is no better way to feel springtime in Alentejo.
In the unique waters of the Mira, you can find in abundance everything from fish, to tortoises, to water snakes and otters. The riparian vegetation, dominated by poplars, ash trees, alders, reeds and willows, is a place of refuge and breeding for many species of birds, insects and bats. Wetland reeds and rushes near the shores are essential for migratory birds. Some of these floodplain areas were transformed into agricultural meadows with fresh, fertile soils.
In contrast, the slopes adjacent to the river are arid with sparse, poor soil. As the great 20th century Portuguese writer, Miguel Torga, once wrote, erosion “took all the flesh and left only the bones.” The cork oak is one of the few trees that manages to live with so little, dominating along these slopes overlooking the river. The bark of its trunks, the cork, has great importance in the local economy. The first harvest of cork occurs when the trunk is 70 cm in diameter and 25 to 30 years old. That is why the cork oaks are said to be planted for the grandchildren. The second cork is removed 9 to 10 years later, but the next runs are of higher value. The cork tree has a longevity of 150 to 200 years and its cork can be removed about 15 to 17 times. The harvesting takes place between June and August, a period in which the cork comes off more easily. This is a very specialized job, because it is necessary to peel the cork tree without hurting it.
The rural Alentejo is described by Miguel Torga as a “free world, without walls, that let all the invasions pass and remained untouched, oblivious to the mutations of history.” It is this integrity, but also this toughness and solitude, that can be felt as you walk through some large local agricultural estates, which once functioned as tiny villages with a church and a school.
The landscape of this seemingly unchanging trail hides an unbelievable natural history. Here lived mammoths, elephants, bears, and lions who dwelled in the caves. The appearance and extinction of these large mammals were related to the climatic oscillations of the last two million years, during which more than sixty glacial periods were interrupted by short warm periods.
Where to start
At the train station of Santa Clara-Sabóia.
At the roundabout with the iron tree sculpture, next to the gas station.
Rules and Recommendations
This route can be shortened by 2 km if you start in Sabóia.
At the beginning of the hike, there are several intersections with Circular Routes. Pay attention to the signage and consider prolonging your stay in this area to hike some or all of these unique routes.
This route is very long and currently has no locations or amenities for overnight stays or meals. Bring food and water. When walking the route, make sure to keep all gates and fences closed.