Cachopo

Visit the Serra do Caldeirão in early spring, as temperatures are still pleasant instead of scorching hot. Enjoy the Algarve spends a day in Cachopo, a tiny village where time seems to have stood still and old rural traditions such as weaving, blacksmithing and saddle making are proudly kept alive. When visiting the area, don’t miss these six things!

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine February 2016

Pictures by Marijke Verschuren

 

Go off-road

Getting to Cachopo is half the fun. Especially if you leave the paved streets behind and drive on the dirt roads. Here, you’ll find the real untouched Algarve: steep rocky tracks, cork oaks and endless mountain panoramas. Prepare for a bumpy ride and try not to mess up your car – chances of someone passing by who can tow you to the nearest mechanic are pretty low…

 

Wander through the village

There are no straight roads in Cachopo, instead the small village consists of little curvy cobbled lanes that somehow all seem to end near the Santo Estevão church. Stress is unheard of here; the friendly inhabitants can be seen chatting in small cafes (the restaurant at the roundabout is worth a visit for the terrace, full of plants and ornaments, alone) and waiting at bus stops. You’ll also notice typical Algarve houses (think: one floor only, painted white, traditional Algarvian chimney on top) and loads of small dogs which bark at anything that moves.

 

Talk to the blacksmith

Walking through the village, you’ll eventually end up at the blacksmith. José Zacarias Vicente (78) has been living in Cachopo for his entire life and is happy to show you around in his workplace where the walls and floor are covered in pieces of iron. In Portuguese and with hand gestures, he explains how he has been making horse shoes and rabbit traps from a young age, the same historic way his father, grandfather and great-grandfather have been doing it, with bellows, hammers and chisel.

 

Learn about medronho making

Centrepiece of the small Núcleo Museológico de Cachopo is an old alambique, which was used to distil medronho. This fiery liquor is still a popular homemade brew in the region; every October and November the berries are picked, and in January and February the medronho is made.

The museum sells this liquor and also offers information about other artisanal produce such as saddle making. More interested in weaving? Check out the other small museum in Cachopo, O Moinho, located close to the round souvenir kiosk, just up the road.

Opening times of the Núcleo Museológico de Cachopo: 10-13h and 14-17h, Monday to Friday

 

Drink healing water

The waters of the Fonte Férrea (which was rich in iron, hence its name), just outside Cachopo, were once thought to be medicinal; rich people came from all over the Algarve to have a sip. Now, the spring is been made into a nature park, perfect for a shaded walk or a picnic (there are benches, BBQs and toilets). There’s even a free outdoor swimming pool, which is open from May to September.

 

See the roundhouses

A couple of kilometres northwest of Cachopo you’ll find Mealha, an even smaller village, known for its roundhouses which are scattered all over town. Roundhouses are, no surprise here, houses built in a circular construction; they’re made out of slate walls and have a conical roof which is covered with hay or reed. Once people lived in them, now these ‘palheiros’ are mainly used to store hay for the cattle. Mealha is also to place to visit when you’re into archaeology (it has some interesting sites) or walking the Via Algarviana (walkers can sleep in its old primary school).

 

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine February 2016

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