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The Planicies - Plains - is a region stretching along the southern part of the country as far as the Algarve. To the east, it reaches the frontier with Spain; to the west, it meets the Costa de Lisboa, while it also has a strip of coastline bordered by the Atlantic.




By Air Using Lisbon's International Airport or the aerodromes at Evora and Sines.
By Road Planicies is crossed from north to south by the IP1 in the west and the IP2 in the east. The IP7 crosses the IP2 in Evora, which makes possible to reach the frontier with Spain, and the IPS in Beja. It also runs as far as the Atlantic coast.


Average temperatures


The average temperatures of the region are about 19C/63F. In some of the more remote inland areas, there is a greater variation in temperatures between summer and winter.


Tourist offer


This region is known for its wide open spaces, where the montes (extensive farms) surround little white houses, with a palm tree growing beside them. The view from a balloon offers a different dimension of the immense vastness of the area, punctuated by towns fortified with castles that defy the course of time. Some of the high towns, surrounded by walls, are Marvao, Castelo de Vide, Monsaraz and Serpa. The north western part of the region is a vast pastureland, where horses and bulls graze, while on the northeast you can find the natural park of Serra de S. Mamede.
The vast amount of archeological treasures found in the Alentejo bear witness to the various different peoples who lived here and who left traces in grottoes, cemeteries and dolmens. Once occupied by the Romans, the most notable monument from those times is the Roman temple in Evora, its landmark.
Because the Portuguese Court resided in the area, many aristocratic houses were built here, with carved doors and windows and the interiors richly decorated with glazed tiles.
One of the principal sports of the region is hunting, and there are some fifty zones reserved for tourists to hunt. Safaris and balloon trips are some of the alternatives to leisure holidays for those who visit the Planicies.
One of the main events in this land of pastures is the Portuguese bullfight, where the bull, which is not killed in the arena, is challenged by riders and foot bullfighters.
The Alentejo gastronomy is imaginative and tasty, using a variety of herbs. Thick soups are served in the winter and "gaspacho", a cold soup, is refreshing in the summer.
Sweetmeats are made from age-old convent recipes, such as "toucinho-do-ceu" (almond and egg sweetmeat). Also excellent are the wines and cheeses.
One of the most traditional forms of art in the Planicies are the carpets from Arraiolos, woven in designs of Arab origin. They are sold all over the world. Other crafts include hand painted furniture, marble and cork objects, decorative ceramics, and the celebrated tapestries from Portalegre.


Suggested trips


1. Alvito/ Beja/ Mertola/ Serpa

Alvito with its 15th-century Manueline castle, could be the starting point for the first tour. Here, in what was formerly the palace of King Manuel I, a pousada has been beautifully integrated with a view over the immense plain.
In Beja, the ancient castle, the Misericordia Church and the Conceicao Convent, from the 15th century, should not be missed. Here, Mariana Alcoforado's cell has been reconstructed, and it was where she wrote Cartas Portuguesas, telling tales of unrequited love. It is a famous work among European connaisseurs.
In the Sao Francisco Convent, founded in the 13th century, there is still the Chapel of the Tombs. Today, it is a comfortable pousada.
Mertola is a museum city, with a rich archeological heritage. Worth visiting are the Roman and Islamic Museums, the Mother-Church in an ancient mosque, and the entrance to the Campo Arqueologico.
From the castle, there is an outstanding panoramic view over the river Guadiana, which serves as frontier with Spain. Here you can also watch traditional rugs being woven, in which the patterns from the 12th and 13th centuries are still used.
Travelling from Mertola to Serpa, you pass Minas de Sao Domingos, next to a pretty dam. Serpa is a typical town of Alentejo, perched on a hilltop and famous for its excellent cheese..

2. Arraiolos/ Evora/ Monsaraz/ Vila Vicosa/ Estremoz

Arraiolos is a small, white town, known for its age-old carpet weaving. You can visit the factories and watch the weavers and embroiderers at work.
Evora is in the centre of a prehistoric area, dotted with dolmens and other prehistoric monuments, all easy to find. The historical centre of the town has been classified in the list of World Heritage by UNESCO, and some of the sights not to be missed are the Giraldo Square, the Roman Temple, the 12th-century Cathedral, the Loios Convent, which is now a luxury pousada, and the Sao Francisco Church, one of the most important Gothic-Manueline monuments in the area and which houses the famous Chapel of the Bones.
The fortified town of Monsaraz, a veritable eagle's nest, is one of the most typical medieval towns in the Alentejo, totally surrounded by walls.
Vila Vicosa has a magnificent ducal palace, which served as a summer residence for the last kings of Portugal.
Estremoz is another example of a typical town in the Alentejo, overlooked by a castle, where the navigator Vasco da Gama received from King Manuel the gifts to be presented to the King of Calcutta. In this historic building there is now a sumptuous pousada. Ever since the 1 7th century Estremoz has been the centre for the production of red clay.

3. Crato/ Portalegre/ Marvao/ Castelo de Vide

In Crato, there is a beautiful building, probably dating back to 1356. It is the Flor da Rosa Monastery, which once belonged to the Hospital Order. Later reconstructed, the medieval structure had Manueline elements introduced and is now a charming pousada.
Portalegre is famous for its artistic tapestries since the 16t century and also for its beautiful manor houses.
Marvao is a small town constructed within the walls of a medieval castle. From its height of 950 m, there is a magnificent view of rare beauty over the Alentejo plains.
Also worth visitings is Castelo de Vide, an interesting spa town encircled by the old walls of a 16th-century fortress, possessing also many traces of the medieval period, such as the winding pattern of the narrow alleys in the old Jewish quarter.




There is a large number of pousadas in the Planicies area, which is also an ideal location for manor house tourism (Turismo de Habitacao).
There are five pousadas installed in national monuments and two in historic zones.
The 4-star Hotel Convento de Sao Paulo, an ancient monastery, is clad with glazed tiles and is an excellent place to hold incentives. All the accommodation in this area is situated in places of natural beauty, reflecting the culture, customs and tradition of the region. It also offers unforgettable service, whether in the manor houses or in the ancient monuments now housing pousadas.
Some of the fifteen places offering manor house accommodation are situated near hunting areas, and it is possible to organise hunts and other outdoor activities here.


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