STAGES

ETAPA 1

Esta etapa decorre no Parque Natural do Douro Internacional e atravessa o planalto mirandês.

Esta etapa decorre no Parque Natural do Douro Internacional e atravessa o planalto mirandês.

Durante esta etapa as marcas de Grande Rota irão ser uma constante, cruzando-se com algumas marcas de pequena rota.
Nesta etapa o declive é acentuado, encontrará uma paisagem montanhosa e irá correr na maioria do percurso por estradas de terra. O percurso foi quase todo ele feito em estradas com algumas pedras soltas, no meio de terrenos agrícolas, atravessando vias romanas e partes de asfalto. Irás deparar com algumas longas subidas e descidas por um território tão remoto e selvagem. Vais encontrar vários cafés e pontos de agua ao longo do percurso.

Apesar de esta etapa ser a mais longa irá encontrar várias aldeias bem pitorescas como Paradela, Aldeia Nova, Cércio, Picote, onde o contacto com as gentes extremamente hospitaleiras do planalto Mirandês e transmontanas, é uma constante e sem dúvida uma das suas maiores riquezas.

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Stage 1
Miranda do Douro » Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Miranda do Douro is a town located in Trás os Montes, bordering Spain and on the right bank of the Douro river that gives name to the Grand Route 36, that will be your way until Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

On the first day the GR36 as already mentioned will be the reference all along the way. As we cross the Mirandese plateau, we travel through one of the most beautiful portuguese parks: the Douro International Natural Park.

Most of the route is on dirt roads with a lot of loose stone, passing along agricultural land and with some sidewalks stretches of Roman times and small asphalt connection.

Along the way, be dazzled by remote, wild and unique territory.

Although this stage is the longest you will find several very picturesque villages such as Paradela, Aldeia Nova, Cércio, Picote, where the contact with the extremely hospitable people of the Mirandese plateau and transmontanas is a constant and undoubtedly one of its greatest riches.

Stage 2
Freixo de Espada à Cinta » Vila Nova de Foz Côa

Freixo de Espada à Cinta has the category of Village, belongs to the district of Bragança. We continued with the Douro River and GR36, until we started the “Ciclovia do Sabor” to Vila Nova de Foz Côa.

The route of the stage will continue along the GR36, intersecting here and there with some marks of small local routes. Note that you should always follow the route that the GPS tells you.

We can divide this step into two parts:

1. A start made by wide paths through farmland, past a Roman sidewalk before finding the mountainous area.
2. The second part of this route will go through part of the “ciclovia do Sabor”, before crossing the Douro river, the arrival at Vila Nova Foz Côa between olive groves, vineyards and almond trees.

A few passes through villages with cafes and water points to reinforce your backpacks with groceries.

The origin of the village of Freixo de Espada à Cinta is lost in the mists of time with its foundation and toponym covered by the fog that always surrounds the legends. However, several historians claim that the Narbassos, pre-Roman Iberian people mentioned by Ptolemy, inhabited this entire area of the Peninsula, thus assuming the existence of this settlement prior to the founding of the Kingdom of Portugal. Let us leave the international Douro Natural Park and we will begin to find the presence of the “Man” in the Douro Wine Region. On the steep slopes, where you can see the Douro as you walk to the mouth in Porto. Terraces that the man has covered with vines and that at the end of each summer will give the world the famous Port Wine. Millennial landscapes and a singular beauty.

Stage 3
Vila Nova de Foz Côa » Almeida

Foz Côa in the heart of the interior of Portugal, is schist land.
The brown of the metamorphic rocks contrasts with the blue sky. In March the almond and cherry trees cover the slopes of white and pink. It’s nature in all its splendor after a hidden winter.

We start between walls until we reach the Côa Museum. A fantastic work by portuguese architects Camilo Rebelo e Tiago Pimentel. We will then go down by loose stone path that crosses the road bridge and leads us through an asphalt road (watch out for cars) to the village of Orgal.
The loose stone paths and walled paths between olive groves and vineyards lead us to Castelo Melhor. Um perímetro muralhado com um povoado datado do da idade média ( Seculos XII e XIII). Then we went through a cloak of olive groves until Almendra. The trail crosses the road and we go to the archaeological site of Olga Grande and from there by mud trees and wooded areas to the village of Algodres. 

Through forest paths crossing large areas of cork and holm oak, interspersed with olive groves and pastures we reach the Faia Brava Nature Reserve. The first private nature reserve in Portugal.
The asphalt will be our floor for a few kilometers until we enter far and wide rocky areas until close to Rib.ª do Judeu and go around the village of Barrocal, following along the right slope of the Côa river, crossing an extensive area of ​​woods and pastures.

Arrival at Almeida It will be by the so-called “Lameiros Pardos”, a cork and holm oak forest area.

Cafes and water points exist but less often midway. Please read carefully the race book (participant’s guide) we’ll send you with all these notes.

Stage 4
Almeida » Sabugal

Almeida, from Guarda district in the Centro and Beira Interior Norte Region, borders Spain to the east, to the south of the Sabugal municipality. Part of its territory is flat (Salamantina plain) and ends abruptly over the Côa River.

The Senhor da Barca Convent is one of our references of the day that will be crossing by wooded areas, farms, sometimes closer to the river, sometimes climbing the slope to more rocky areas and extensive cork oak areas on the right bank of the Côa river. We cross the railway line and continued through cultivated areas and robust trees.

This is a more unpopulated area. Focal points, cafes and small businesses in the villages are less and more farther away. Prevent yourself.

Almeida with its curious nozzle structure, creates astonishment and some discussion around. The fortress houses within its walls the village and the population. A building with clear objectives of defending the Portuguese territory from the advances of the Moors and later the Spanish.

Stage 5
Sabugal » Penamacor

Sabugal, city of Guarda district is part of the Alto Côa, a region irrigated by the tributaries of the upper reaches of the river. A stage with a smoother navigation.

Stage with wide roads for a long time without any detours and great distances on asphalt.
Shortly after leaving Sabugal we entered an area of the Serra da Malcata Nature Reserve. A protected area of the Iberian lynx, now endangered.

This connection between Sabugal and Penamacor will be made by extensive agricultural areas, mainly near Meimoa. Small village where we can store food reserves until the end of the stage.

Through paths flanked by Eucalyptus or Pinhal we arrive around the Dam of “Albufeira da Meimoa”. A nice place to run. Flat and by April heights with nice flooring.

Stage with very few villages and support. Be self sufficient when leaving Sabugal.

Although climate and natural conditions have never been the most suitable for human occupation the region of Sabugal has since ancient times revealed signs of important humanization. There are traces dating back to Neolithic and Chalcolithic.

Stage 6
Penamacor » Idanha-a-Nova

Penamacor is a village of Beira Baixa, belonging to the Castelo Branco District. Many were the people who crossed these lands to other peninsular places.

An easy-to-follow stage, wide paths and several kilometers of asphalt. A path more exposed to the sun by the absence of trees. Closer to the population the agricultural land will give us the comfort of understanding that we are more close of the population.

The climbs to the village of Monsanto – the most Portuguese village of Portugal, and the medieval village of Penha Garcia are the milestones of this stage. Two historical villages of Portugal with a great historical and natural heritage.

The arrival in Idanha-a-Nova by the ascent of “Senhora da Graça” will definitely mark the end of the stage.
Attention increased on asphalt road and also on their crossings. Despite having little traffic, it is good to be aware.

A stage with few inhabited places. Be self-sufficient when leaving the localities.

The remotest remnants of the occupation of the territory point to prehistoric (late Neolithic) and proto-historical (Bronze Age and Iron Age) horizons scattered throughout various areas of the present council area. Many were the peoples who crossed these lands to other peninsular places. When the Roman legions arrived, they met the resistance of the Lusitanians, fierce tribes who lived essentially from pastoralism.

Stage 7
Idanha-a-Nova » Vila Velha de Ródão

Idanha-a-Nova is a village in Castelo Branco district. This county is rich in historical, cultural and architectural heritage.

This is the steepest stage since we started. The Beira Baixa plateau is bare of trees and has long plains of land plowed for planting. This is a transition stage to the long plains of the Alentejo.

Closer to Vila Velha de Ródão, flanking and crossing the long olive groves we begin to realize that we have entered another region of Portugal. We are in the territory of Naturtejo Geopark, the first in Portugal. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of the Tagus River, the largest river that runs through Portugal. Area rich in flora and fauna and constituted as a Tagus International Natural Park. A park, two countries: Portugal and Spain.

The paths of this stage allow a comfortable navigation, without major turns that often lead to the most distracted mistake. Route with few villages and many kilometers on asphalt.

One of its iconic activities is the manufacture of Adufe, a musical instrument made from sheepskin, is a handicraft very characteristic of the region of ancestral knowledge. With a very own sonority has its high performance in the pilgrimage of Senhora do Almurtão.
It’s sanctuary a few kilometers away of ancient age being mentioned in the idal of Idanha-a-Velha dating from 1229, in the reign of D. Sancho II.

In 2015 UNESCO considered Idanha-a-Nova as City of Music as part of the Creative Cities Network program. Because of the musical knowledge mentioned above but also because of the Boom Festival is a biennial visionary culture festival held during the August full moon. It began in 1997 as a musical event, but has evolved throughout its editions to a celebration of alternative culture. “Boom” is today a multidisciplinary, transgenerational and intercultural festival.

Stage 8
Vila Velha de Ródão » Portalegre

Vila Velha de Ródão a village in the district of Castelo Branco, named after its municipality, has the motto “feel the river and live the earth”.

In this stage we will say goodbye Beira Baixa and enter the Alto Alentejo. In the first kilometers we will leave Oiro lands, crossing and observing the greatness of the Tagus River. In the background we can see one of the most important geosites of the Naturtejo Geopark and the largest reference of Vila Velha de Ródão: the Portas de Ródão. A geological phenomenon millions of years old.

Already on the south bank of the Tagus River, in Póvoas and Meada we enter the territory of the Natural Park of Serra de São Mamede and then the “trip” goes through centuries of history: Castelo de Vide, also known as Sintra do Alentejo and “Mui nobre” and always loyal ”Vila de Marvão”. Along rural roads, often walled and also along Roman sidewalk we follow until the end of the stage.

Climbs? Yes, 3km to Marvão. A great challenge, which is overcome by the surrounding landscape and the magnificent and well-preserved medieval sidewalk. Sidewalk that crosses and still takes us to know Roman villa of Ammaia.

By the middle of the course the villages and the places from where you can supply will be further away. Along the route are sources where we can supply water.

The earliest remnants of Ródão’s past are geological dated to some 600 million years. From this period are visible in the schist and quartzite rocks, fossils of trilobites and bivalves, testimonies of an ancient sea that reached Ródão.

In this natural context dominated by the Tagus River, which shapes the landscape and the Portas de Ródão its geographical reference, the humanity found in the river the ideal conditions to establish the first temporary camps dating back to the inferior Paleolithic.

Stage 9
Portalegre » Elvas

Portalegre city in the district of the same name near the Spanish border between the plain and the mountain, framed in the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park, enjoying an enormous cultural, landscape and gastronomic richness.

Leaving Portalegre, you will cross a stretch of asphalt and pass the beautiful and peaceful village of Alegrete and its ex-libris Alegrete Castle before finding the marks of small local routes.

We leave the Serra de São Mamede Natural Park and the Alto Alentejo behind and we will visit the Central Alentejo. A flatter, less populated Alentejo. These are long periods of asphalt along the beautiful Alentejo plain. Extensions to lose sight of olive and cork trees and much presence of cattle and goats.

There are several water points and cafes along the route.

With a long history, Portalegre was a prosperous and rich city in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries due to investment in the textile industry and is still known today for this traditio. The Portalegre Museum of Tapestries of Manufacture, housed in a former noble manor. Tapestries are unique pieces made using a manual loom technique that allows to perfectly reproduce the gradations and shades of a painting or a drawing. They have great value and are greatly appreciated by contemporary artists for reproducing their artwork.

As we walk through the city, we see many palaces and monuments that recall the golden age of the past. Like the Castle of medieval origin, the Great See, where you can admire a unique set of Portuguese painting from the 16th and 17th centuries and tile panels with biblical scenes.

Stage 10
Elvas » Monsaraz

Elvas, the largest city in the Portalegre district is home to the largest set of bastioned fortifications in the world. The Elvas walls and the historic city center have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.

This stage is marked by long and wide dirt road sometimes with some dust pointing out that you will pass through the “Sentinela do Guadiana” (Juromenha). You will sometimes encounter small route markings and you will run most of the way along dirt roads. After leaving the campsite you will run a stretch of asphalt that crosses the river. The route of this stage will be mostly by dirt roads and some parts of paved roads.

Before arriving at the “medieval village of Alentejo near the sky” (Monsaraz) you will find small route marks.

At this stage you will find water points and cafes on average every 10 km.

The story of the place where he would raise the city of Elvas begins in the period called the Iron Age. However, the history of this region has its beginning long before the first Iron Fortress emerged. Given the fertility of the fields of this place, the first populations were established here early and of course they left their trail in the magnificent megalithic heritage that sprinkles the estates of the municipality of Elvas. We have to go back to the Neo-Chalcolithic period, about 4000 a. C. and 1800 a. C. to begin telling this story, although there are also several remains of the Palaeolithic such as the Boiler deposit. It is however in the Neo-Chalcolithic period that the first man-made architectural landmarks emerge: the tapirs. There are currently 22 in Elvas municipality.

Stage 11
Monsaraz » Moura

Monsaraz, medieval town former county seat today parish that belongs to Reguengos de Monsaraz. It has retained its characteristics over the centuries so it provides a time warp as it is an unique place where it’s still possible to find peace and tranquility forgotten by modern times.

This is one of the stages with the highest percentage of asphalt. Attention, few villages where you can supply!

This is the stage that has the smallest slope of all.

You will admire the largest artificial lake in Europe (Alqueva) before reaching Moura.

Already showing signs of being a fortified castro during prehistoric times, it always had strong military and religious influences, impeccably preserved in time to the present day. The airy medieval village of Monsaraz retains its former magic as few places in the world. Made of lime and schist, this place whispers, among the echo of our footsteps in its streets, magnificent stories of daring kings, knights Templar, brave people and ladies of simple beauty.

Suspended in time the historic Alentejo village is one of the oldest in Portugal and a must see destination in your list of places to visit in Alentejo. Especially after winning in the “Villages Monument” category of the 7 Wonders of Portugal – Villages contest in 2017.

Stage 12
Moura » Minas São Domingos

Moura integrates the Alentejo region and the Baixo Alentejo sub-region. It borders Spain to the southeast and the municipalities of Mourão to the northeast, Barrancos to the east, Serpa to the southwest, Vidigueira to the west, and Portel and Reguengos de Monsaraz to the northwest by the Alqueva Dam.

The stretch between Moura and Pias is on asphalt, after passing Pias you will start to find btt route marks, you will enter one of the largest municipalities of Portugal – Serpa, as well as in the lower Alentejo region.

This is the second stage with the highest percentage of asphalt, with few villages where you can supply. The route remains on wide dirt roads and some long stretches of asphalt.

It is at this stage that you will enter the Guadiana Valley Natural Park, you will find some great route marks.
Navigation remains easy to keep in mind when changing directions.

Moura Castle is based on an Iron Age settlement of proven political and economic importance in the left bank of the Guadiana part of the Roman period in Western Betica and always under the political influence of Seville, played throughout the Middle Ages and, then, until the Restoration War, a role of reasonable importance in Portugal’s foreign policy.

Stage 13
Minas São Domingos » Alcoutim

Minas São Domingos, in Mértola municipality of Beja district. The mine and the respective village of Minas de São Domingos correspond to an old mining mine.

The route continues to be along broad dirt paths. The villages and fueling points are closer to each other except for the final part that will run several kilometers without fueling points.

You will continue in the Guadiana Valley Natural Park with some marks of the great route.

Navigation remains by wide and easy roads but watch out for changes of direction.

Phoenicians and Carthaginians and, after these to the Romans. Whose mining work extended from the beginning of the first century until the end of the fourth century, and its main objective was the extraction of copper, gold and silver.

Stage 14
Alcoutim » Monte Gordo

Alcoutim, we arrived at the Algarve the last region of this trip. From the district of Faro, the people of this land exude peace and nature makes us forget the clock.

In the last stage you will continue to see the great route marks and you will leave the region of Baixo do Alentejo. Entering the Algarve region along the way you will be able to enjoy the Guadiana river. At this stage the contact with the Algarve people will be closer as you will find several villages along the way where you can supply.

Between Alcoutim and the village of Marmeleiro the stage begins on a paved road to Alcoutim River Beach from here the way up winds between hills and valleys to the Alcoutim Dam, the landscape is with bush and pine forest, we observe area of ancient lavatory and what is believed to be an ancient Roman stone path (Eastern Algarve Road) that linked Tavira to Alcoutim.

After crossing the village of Marmeleiro down to the river by a dirt road, the route now goes parallel to the river we cross the ravine where we find a wheel well follows the narrow path, surrounding holm oaks and diverse vegetation, have pass by the viewpoint of “Pontal do Guadiana” a must stop and emblematic place for the fantastic view of the river and Spain, here again approaches the river, in a more direct contact with nature, marked by the presence of centuries-old olive trees.

The trail crosses the village Montinho das Laranjeiras, where on the left we find the archaeological nucleus with traces of three distinct historical periods (Roman, Visigoth and Islamic) after the village of Laranjeiras, where you can supply before Guerreiros do Rio.

In Guerreiros do Rio follow a footpath, in stone and between walls, passing through another cultivated floodplain past the village of Álamo, proceeding along dirt roads to Corte das Donas we observe ancient eiras (today useless but which once represented the livelihood of many families).
From Corte das Donas the route follows a path of stones, between walls the vegetation is Mediterranean bush, with areas of stone pine counted with one more descent to the next locality.
Before arriving Odeleite where you can supply, the route runs through an extensive area of ​​gardens along the floodplains of Ribeira de Odeleite, passed before by dirt tracks with many native trees and the typical mountain countryside.

Between Alcaria and Almada D’Ouro the route goes along the Guadiana River between vegetable gardens and fig trees, passes through one of the former posts of the Tax Guard (in times of smuggling), after Almada D’Ouro there is another steep descent, past some ruins from the old “Quinta da Choça” the riverine vegetation is queen.

In Azinhal you will have a wonderful panoramic view then the descent is steep and flanked by sargassum, gorse, rosemary, bush and old traces of dry orchard and olive trees, the arrival to Junqueira is by the old national road crossing extensive orange and vegetable gardens, after passing Junqueira you will find gardens and various orchards, an orange grove, as well as wells from other times between secular walls leading down to Castro Marim, had also enjoyed a fantastic panoramic view of the Guadiana River.

The route crosses Castro Marim where you can supply, then discover on the left the sublime salt flats inserted, in turn in the natural ex-libris of the territory, the Castro Marim Sapal Nature Reserve and Vila Real de Santo António, the route follows the National 122, pay attention to the cars, then arrive at Vila Real de Santo António. In the final part, the route crossing the Vila Real de Santo António Coastal Dunes National Forest runs along the “Caminho dos Três Pauzinhosl”, to Santo António beach, where the final 3 kilometers of Atlantic sands begin.

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