The Almendres Cromlech, a unique and unknown attraction in Portugal

Lizards, Crickets And The Almendres Cromlech

Last year I went on a road trip in Portugal that took me from Porto all the way to the Algarve and back to Lisbon. Before we reached the last destination on our itinerary, we stopped in Evora for a coffee and some sightseeing. Randomly checking the guide, I saw a picture from an interesting place not far from where I was with a short description that left me wondering what it was all about. All I knew was that I wanted to go and since it was a short drive, we decided to visit the Almendres Cromlech.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t even heard the term cromlech before (my spell checker doesn’t know it either). A cromlech is a term used to describe prehistoric megalithic structures, the one in Portugal dating from the Neolithic, around the same period of time as Stonehenge, between 3000 BC and 4000 BC. I’ve seen different sources that say 4000 BC and 5000 BC, eh what’s another 1000 years. Either way. that’s a looooong time ago! It’s the largest complex in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the primary sites in Europe. It was discovered underground in 1966 and the whole area had to be excavated. The complex consists of 95 small monoliths made of granite and while their exact purpose isn’t known, it’s believed it was either built as a religious monument or as a primitive astronomical observatory. Some of them even have carvings on them, making the latter supposition more plausible.

Nearby there is also a menhir (here’s a new word for my spell checker), a large upright standing stone. I didn’t know about it so when I first saw it, I felt a little overwhelmed, I mean, I was expecting a bigger complex! “Who stole the monoliths?!” 😛  What guide books won’t tell you is how many crickets and lizards there are in the area, with each step you take you’ll see at least five crickets hopping around. Also, the lizards apparently are camera-shy, as you can see in the pictures below.

Practical info

Leaving from Evora on the road towards Montemor-o-Novo, head to the Guadalupe village. There will be a sign indicating the way. The road is pretty bad and you’ll have to park the car and walk a bit until you reach it. From the parking space, there are another 1 -2  kilometers to the cromlech complex, but since you need to drive slowly, it’s going to seem like a longer distance. 😉 There is no entrance fee and you can walk around freely between the monoliths, unlike at Stonehenge, UK. Do take as many pictures as you can! 😀