Portugal // Alentejo //

Os Almendres

The Iberian peninsula’s largest and most impressive stone circle lies 13km west of Évora, just south of the small village of Guadalupe. To get there directly from Évora, take the N114 towards Montemor/Lisbon and follow the signs from Guadalupe. If you’re approaching from the south, from Escoural and Valverde, you need to turn left in Guadalupe, at the Café Barreiros.

You are directed out along a dirt road (largely flat and in good condition, fine for cars), reaching the Menir dos Almendres after 2km. This is a single, three-metre-high standing stone set in a quiet olive plantation five minutes’ walk from the road. Despite its obvious Neolithic origins, the local legend has it that it is the tomb of an enchanted Moorish princess, who appears once a year on the eve of São João and can be seen combing her hair.

Another 2.5km along the dirt road there’s a parking area beside the extraordinary Cromeleque dos Almendres, where no less than 92 stones are aligned for 70m down a dusty hillside. Placed here in several phases, between six and seven thousand years ago, they are thought to have been erected in a horseshoe shape as some kind of astronomical observatory and site of fertility rituals. Even today, the power of the site is undeniable, the stones resembling frozen figures gazing across the surrounding cork plantation to a distant Évora.

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