Overlooking the Sado river is the historic city of Alcaçer do Sal. It was a medieval town consisting of ‘barrios’ or neighbourhoods, which surrounded the Muslim Castle or ‘Al Qasr’, which literally translates into ‘The Castle’.
The municipality of Alcaçer has at its heart the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve which is home to a diverse ecosystem.
A stone’s throw away is Comporta and the peninsula of Troia.
Despite the recent increase in tourism and pleasure related activities in the region, the traditional villages have maintained their customs and architecture.
A picturesque village twosteps from the beautiful white sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast is known for its rice paddies and production. Despite the passage of time, this village has maintained its traditional architecture.
This quiet fishing village is a part of the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve and is untouched by the passage of time. It is famous for its unique wooden dock and piers built on wood stilts which have withstood the test of time and are still used by the local fishermen.
About 35km from Alcaçer do Sal lies the charming parish of Torrão with its pretty streets and houses with tall chimneys. Torrão received the Manuel Foral Charter in 1512.
It is the birth place of Bernardim Ribeiro, a famous 16th century poet and writer. Torrão also has churches and chapels classified as Monuments in the Public Interest, which includes the Hermitage of ‘Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso’ found on the way from Torrão to Vila Nova de Baronia.
This is a region of scenic rolling plains with olive groves, wheat farms and sheep pastures. This region is also famous for is cheese.
Also close by is Vale (valley) do Gaio. It is peppered with ash trees and old windmills. The dam of Vale do Gaio forms a beautiful lake which is a great place for activities like wind surfing, sailing and sport fishing, or just a plain ‘ol picnic.
The little village of Santa Susana which its typical Alentejo architecture seems to be a place where time has stood still. This quaint village surrounded by fields and cork oaks has beautiful little terraced houses, whitewashed with blue outlines and large chimneys.
The 16th century Church of Santa Susana is of the baroque style and houses two magnificent paintings on wood from the same period and artistic style.
The local heritage also includes a submerged baroque bridge from the 18th century.
The Prego do Altar dam is a scenic place to picnic and enjoy water sports.
This too is a great place to try out typical Alentejo dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, the locally harvested honey is not to be missed.
Herdade do Pinheiro
This estate is an example of popular architecture and urbanism with white houses arranged in a planned and balanced manner. Here, from the top of Mount Pinheiro, a large part of the Sado river estuary is visible.
Many species of birds, including anatidae and waders nest around this area.
During the Roman era this was one of the most important centres of fish salting for preservation in the Western Mediterranean.
The roman village of Santa Catarina de Sítimos
This village had had human occupation since the mid first century. The Roman Villa, large swimming pool with its stairs leading to the interior and sanctuary believed to be to the goddess Venus prove Roman occupation until the fifth and sixth centuries. Subsequently the Islamic occupation and finally the Christian conquest of 1217 and the construction of the still standing 13th century church are testament to it’s antiquity.
Guided tours may be booked at the Tourist Office or the Archaeology Office of the Alcaçer do Sal City Hall.