"Through the heart of Portugal: Schist Villages"


Schist is the most common mineral found in a particular region of the center of Portugal. Native ancient people thought it was very useful to build houses and instruments used at that time and that´s how rows of schist houses were born on narrow streets all over the schist villages in the Serra da Lousã.
Situated in one of the most peculiar landscapes of Portugal, The “Aldeias do Xisto” is an unforgettable route that leads you through the heart of the Portuguese forest.
Discovering these villages means diving in the magic world of the Lousã mountain ranges. You will find lush vegetation and lush flora, from where dears, wild boars, roebucks and many other species will come out of.
Here, Nature is queen, sensible, asking for our respect. But also allowing endless possibilities for leisure activities and active sports. Here, one can feel the pulse of the earth and its link with the people while catching a glimpse of the villages from far away. They seem born out of the schist, naturally, like trees. You can only access these places by remote roads and you will find true treasures that few people know. Welcome to the ancient roots of Portugal!

DAY 1:

Arrival to Lisboa. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight.

DAY 2: LISBON

Breakfast. A morning tour today to the suburb of Belem, where you will visit the Torre de Belem, the Jeronimos Monastery and the Monument to the Discoveries.  A gourmet highlight today is a stop at the famous “Casa Pasteis de Belem” to sample a delicious ‘pastel de nata’ or Portuguese custard tart.  Your driver will then take you back to the city centre, to the Castelo San Jorge where our tour services come to an end. Afternoon free.

Overnight.

DAY 3: LISBOA – TOMAR – TALASNAL – CANDAL – LOUSÃ

Leaving Lisboa up north, your first stop of the day is Tomar.

The city was founded in the 12th century. It was conquered to the Mouros by King Afonso Henriques in 1147 and donated to the Templar Order in 1159. Gualdim Pais, the Grand Master of the Order and the city's mythical founder, laid the first stone of the Castle and Monastery that would become the Headquarters of the Order in Portugal. The foro or feudal contract was granted to the city in 1162 by the Grand Master. The Templars ruled from Tomar a vast region of central Portugal which they pledged to defend from Moorish attacks. Tomar was especially important in the 15th century when it was a centre for Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ, successor organization to the Templars in Portugal. Today, the Convent of Christ is one of the most remarkable monuments in the country being included in the UNESCO's World Heritage list since 1983.

Then we will continue our trip to Talasnal nested on the Lousã mountain range. It is one of the most original schist villages as you will sample the harmony between the buildings in schist and nature around them.  It is mandatory to stop here and taste the artisanal food of the region, cooked inside an old house that is now the only restaurant in the village. You will never forget this experience.

We will pass through Candal, which is considered the most developed village and is one of the most visited, taking advantage of its location by the main road.

Our next and final stop is Hotel Mélia Palácio da Lousã (4****) This Hotel was the Palace of the Salazares or Palácio da Viscondessa do Espinhal and was built under command of Bernardo Salazar Sarmento d'Eça e Alarcão at the end of the XVIII century. D. Maria da Piedade de Melo Sampaio Salazar is the famous Viscondessa do Espinhal. The inhabitants of the town remember her as Lousã's great benefactor. King D. Luís granted her, the Viscondessa title in 24 July of 1868. Dinner and overnight.

DAY 4: LOUSÃ – PIODÃO – FOZ DA ÉGUA – FAJÃO - COIMBRA

After a quiet morning enjoying the beautiful Hotel views, it is time to leave Lousã towards Piodão, and you will have a magnificent opportunity to enjoy the breathless view almost above the clouds. As the mountain range remains, Piodão appears amazingly in front of you. It is considered a “Historical Village of Portugal”. The typical houses of schist and slate, with modern windows painted blue, gracefully descend the slope of the mountain, forming an amazing amphitheater in the middle of the steep mountain.

The architectural ensemble and his own disposition, so characteristic, is the greatest attribute of Piodão, pointing out places of interest as the Mother Church of the seventeenth century or the Piodão Museum Center, where we find the customs, traditions and way of life of these ancient places.

As you travel heading Coimbra, you will have time to take pictures in Foz D´Égua, a site with an splendid natural beauty, including a dam that creates a water mirror in a magnificent place for summer bathes. The framework of the two existing bridges, the proximity of two shale mills and a set of stone blocks carved by the stream of the brooks allows this beautiful riverbank to be appreciated by many people.

We will continue to our next stop Fajão.

This ancient town is located in a picturesque corner of the mountain, between tall and gigantic quartzite boulder whose configuration reminds visitors of an ancient natural castle.

Take a walk around the churchyard and follow the story recounted on the slate panels that link to “Tales of Fajão”. Follow the Judge´s steps and on the way be aware of the fish-shapes hiding the locks, as well as other unique architectural detail. Have a delicious meal of mountain goat with chestnuts, cod fish or “tigelada” (a typical Portuguese dessert).
After this nice lunch we will continue our journey to Coimbra. Check-in at Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas (4***) or similar a hotel with soul and elegance for those that appreciate the art of fine living. This hotel for centuries was a private Sanctuary that welcomed Kings and Emperors. Before dinning you may also admire their wonderful gardens that witnessed the love of Prince Pedro and Inês de Castro. Dinner at the Restaurant of the Hotel. Overnight.

DAY5: COIMBRA – CONIMBRIGA – MEALHADA - BUSSACO

After breakfast, morning visit to Coimbra, Portugal's third largest city that tumbles down a steep riverbank by the Mondego River. It offers a regal university quarter, plus mansions, monasteries, churches and the baroque library of The University of Coimbra, awarded The European Heritage Label in 2008, that you will have the opportunity to visit. We will follows to visit the ruins of Conimbriga. The archaeological evidence tells us that Conimbriga was inhabited, at least, between the IX Century B.C. and VII-VIII A.D. When the Romans arrived, in the second half of the Ist. Century B.C. Conimbriga was a florescent village and a prosperous town. Following to the deep political and administrative crisis of the Empire, Conimbriga suffered the consequences of the barbaric invasions and nowadays is an area designated as national monument.
We will continue to Mealhada, where you will enjoy a lunch of the typical Portuguese “Leitão” – Piglet of Mealhada a unique delight and a worthy food of the gods, accompanied by the tasty bread, traditional manufacturing and the fines wines from local producers.
After this wonderful lunch we will continue to your last final destination Bussaco. After your check-in and before your dinner here, you will enjoy the unique experience of staying in a veritable Royal Palace – The Bussaco Palace Hotel (5****). This romantic Palace is listed in the “1000 Places to see before you die”. You can visit the Bussaco Forest renowned by arborists worldwide for its incredible array of exotic trees and species of rare collected all over the world by Portuguese Navigators. Overnight.

DAY 6: BUSSACO – NAZARÉ – FÁTIMA – BATALHA – ALCOBAÇA - ÓBIDOS

After the breakfast we will visit Nazaré. A curious legend attributes the name Nazaré to a statue of the Virgin brought from  Nazareth, in  Palestine, by a Greek monk to the Spanish monastery of Cauliniana, near Mérida, in the 4th century and the famous “Sítio of our Lady”. Legend tells that the Alcaide of the castle of Porto de Mós, D. Fuas Roupinho, was hunting on these lands, in one foggy morning of September 1182, when, chasing a roe deer, the animal suddenly disappeared over the edge of the cliff. Aware of the danger before him, the nobleman invokes the protection of the Virgin of Nazaré and immediately the horse stopped, saving the knight’s life. In thanksgiving he ordered the little Memory Chapel to be built on the spot. Worshipped since then, the statue of the Virgin would have probably given origin to the name of the place – Sítio of Our Lady of Nazaré. You can also watch the North Beach the place where American surfer Garrett Mc’Namara surfed a wave of 78 feet (23,77 meters) a record recognized by the Guiness Book. Now it’s time for lunch the fresh food of this fisherman village.
We will continue to visit Fátima and its Neo-Baroque Basílica, flanked by statues of saints and has a 65m tower and an esplanade twice the size of St.Peter’s square in Rome. Free time to visit the sanctuary before visit the Monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça. Returning to the road we will reach Óbidos, Portugal whitewashed town surrounding a castel. Dinner and overnight at the beautiful Castle, now a Pousada.

DAY 7: ÓBIDOS – SINTRA – CASCAIS –  LISBOA

This morning you continue your journey to the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Sintra for a sightseeing stop. The tall conical chimneys of the Palacio Nacional de Sintra and the fabulous Palacio da Pena are unmistakable landmarks. Passing through Cascais, a fishing village that keeps it´s original charm. Your final destination is Lisboa, capital of Portugal since 1255, it was captured from the Moors by the first king of the nation, D. Afonso Henriques, in 1147. The city of the seven hills offers beautiful views and boulevards, parks, churches and museums, with excellent food and wine to accompany your stay.
Beautifully located on the north bank of the Tagus River, this river has been the scene of many episodes of the History of Portugal. Nowadays, Lisbon is an international city and cosmopolitan part of the world's most famous itineraries and offers a charming historic setting with a rare combination of old and new that gives it one distinctive and unique character. Overnight at the your hotel 4*** or similar. Overnight.

DAY 8: LISBOA

Transfer to the airport.

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