The Alentejo countryside has many megalithic sites from prehistoric Celtic peoples dating from 3000BC. One of the best examples of these massive stone structures can be found at the Coureleiros Megalithic park near Castelo de Vide and the village of Póvoa e Meadas. There are four main megaliths (Dolmens or Antas) in the park some of which are extremely well preserved.
Menhir of Meada
All the megaliths were constructed without tools and consist of a chamber and corridor that faces East towards the rising sun. It is thought that they were used as burial chambers over many generations though no one is really sure of their purpose. There are many similar megaliths in Spain, France, Britain and Ireland all from the same cultural period.
Close by the megalithic park near Póvoa e Meadas is the Menhir of Meada which is reputed as being the tallest single standing stone in the Iberian peninsular. It stands at over 7 metres tall. The function of the standing stone is unclear though it may have had religious significance.
There are many more fine examples of menhirs cromlechs and dolmens in Alentejo particularly near the town of Evora, where there are over 100 Dolmens. Evora is about 1 hours drive to the south-west. Suggested megalithic routes are available from the tourist authority.
Dolmen sites nearby in Extremadura
A few kilometres away in the Cáceres province of the Extremadura region of Spain 42 dolmen comprise one of the most important collections in Europe around Valencia de Alcántara. There are believed to be fourteen more whose location is no longer known.
The tourist authority in Valencia de Alcántara have set up megalithic routes Ruta de los Dólmenes. The following list links to search Google images for some of the dolmen.
|Dólmen El Caballo|
|Dólmen El Corchero|
|Dólmen Huerta de las Monjas|
|Dólmen Tapada del Anta|
|Dólmen La Miera|
|Dólmen La Barca|
|Dólmen Mellizo ó Anta de la Marquesa|
The romans came to Portugal in 210 BC where they successfully administered the entire Iberian peninsular for the next 600 years until the collapse of the roman empire. They introduced wheat, barley, olives and vines, built dams and irrigation systems and many roads and bridges which are still in evidence throughout the country today. In the Sao Mamede region just below the medieval village of Marvao near Portagem the remains of a roman settlement, Ammaia, thought to have been an important town have been excavated. There is a small museum on the site. Further South the town of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site contains many roman remains as well as many other architectural treasures. It was an important centre of the roman occupation and contains the remains of a roman temple from the 2nd or 3rd century which is one of the best preserved roman monuments in Portugal.
About 1 hours drive into Spain brings you to the historic town of Merida. This is a most impressive roman site with its aqueduct, arena, circus and theatre. There is also a museum here.