Ameixial

Ameixial is known to most people as the place to go for walks in the countryside, especially during the yearly walking festival. But it’s more than that; Ameixial also offers a look into authentic rural Portuguese village life. Plans to visit? Enjoy the Algarve tells you what not to miss!

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine February 2017

 

Check out the town

Ameixial is tiny (the Instituto Nacional de Estatística counted 493 inhabitants back in 2011), but very quaint. Typical of the village are the whitewashed houses with big natural stones that have been collected from the campo (the surrounding fields) around doors and windows. Some are almost falling apart, whereas others are newly restored in the traditional style. Not keen on architecture? Visit Ameixial anyway; getting there along winding roads with serpentine corners (no matter what direction you come from) is worth it for the drive alone.

 

Chat with a local

To really get a feel for a place, you should talk to the people who live there. This is especially true for Ameixial, where many of the friendly locals have spent their entire lives. Sr. Pereira (55, pictured) knows everything and everyone in the village and is happy to point out the sights. What he likes most about living in Ameixial? “The air is pure here; there are no exhaust fumes like in the big cities. Also, it’s a quiet place with lots of sun and no stress.”

 

See the old mills

Quite some decades ago, before supermarkets and padarias, every house in Ameixial had a small oven which was used to bake bread. Grinding the grain for all this bread into flour was done in the two mills that can be found on the hill next to the village. Although these mills are now nothing more than ruins (pieces of the old grinding stones still remain), they’re worth visiting for the views over Ameixial alone. To get there, turn at the Casa de Pasto Ameixialense towards Portela and Ximeno and follow the road upwards.

 

Take a hike

For many people this is the most important reason to visit Ameixial. Its picturesque countryside surroundings make for excellent walking territory. When visiting during the yearly Walking Festival, which will be held this year from 28 April to 1 May, all sorts of guided tours and hiking activities will be organised. Also outside this period, various walks are signposted and highly recommended.

 

Cross over to the Alentejo

From Ameixial it’s only a short distance to the Alentejo, Portugal’s least crowded region (it covers almost a third of the country, but only 7% of Portugal’s population live there). All you have to do is drive along the N2 to the north and cross the Ribeira do Vascão. Nearest large town in the Alentejo is Almodôvar, about 20km from Ameixial. When visiting, keep an eye out for the huge iron sculptures, like this one of the city’s voluntary firemen (it’s at the roundabout near the Medieval bridge).

 

Visit Cachopo

Want to learn about Medronho distilling (pictured), weaving, blacksmithing and saddle making? Then make your way to the nearby village of Cachopo, where these rural Portuguese traditions are proudly kept alive. It’s a half an hour drive (or a really long walk) through the hilly and gorgeous Serra do Caldeirão. Visiting? Check out the article about Cachopo in our February 2016 issue for tips.

 

Marvel at the palheiros

These roundhouses can be found in Corte do Ouro, an old village (read: a collection of a few houses, a tractor, some shepherds and their sheep) a couple of kilometres from Ameixial. Built in a circular construction (hence their name), roundhouses are made out of slate walls and have a conical roof which is covered with hay or reed. Once people lived in them, now they are mainly used to store hay or not used at all. Some more palheiros can be seen in Mealha.

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine February 2017

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