Visit the Schist Villages in the Serra do Açor
Aldeias de Xisto
Hidden between mountain slopes of leafy vegetation, the schist villages are one of our best kept secrets, but one that their pleasant, friendly inhabitants enjoy helping to reveal.
In this magical world, where time passes more slowly, the hospitable people always have the time to welcome visitors, and to share their stories, crafts and traditions. Just as we like to savour their gastronomic delights, made from recipes passed down from generation to generation! Or take with us a handmade article in linen or wood into which the local craftsmen have put all their knowledge.
This land also has preserved castles that appear to emerge out of the mist, straight out of fairy tales, and museums and monuments that bear witness to what life was like many years ago.
But much of their charm is in the pure nature. In the river beaches with crystal clear water where you can spend moments of relaxation. And in the forests you can discover on foot following the “Schist paths “, or on the bike trails defined by the Mountain Bike Centers according to various levels of difficulty, and which also provide support to bikers. There are also other extreme sport alternatives such as canoeing, climbing, abseiling and rope slides.
The 5 villages (Aldeia das Dez, Benfeita, Fajão, Sobral de São Miguel and Vila Cova de Alva) spread across the Açor ranges, and quite close to Serra da Estrela, are called schist villages because this is the stone used in the construction of houses and is abundant in the region. The various shades of this rock, also used for paving the narrow winding streets, mingle seamlessly into the colours of the natural landscape, and it is not always easy to distinguish them. But it’s worth a try.
- relax on the river beaches of the schist villages
- try extreme sports in Serra do Açor
- go hiking on the schist paths
- try the roast kid, maranhos (lamb sausage) and tigeladas (an oven baked egg dessert)
- admire the Fraga da Pena waterfall
- buy herbs for cooking and tea
- enjoy the thrilling experience of the mountain bike trails
The area is a must do for those travelling to Central Portugal and can make a nice fresher alternative on hot days or a comforting mountain trip on colder days.
The Schist Villages (Benfeita, Vila Cova da Alva and Aldeias das Dez) can be reached within a 10 to 25 minute drive from Quinta da Palmeira – Country House Retreat & Spa.