Andanças Returns to Póvoa e Meada Dam
Andanças is back to the Póvoa e Meadas Dam, a return to nature, in a space inserted in the Serra de S. Mamede Natural Park, where geomorphology and climatic conditions are the origins of significant biodiversity. In a privileged area of singular beauty, with its inlaid valleys, imposing quartzite crests, fauna, flora, and many water sources, several elements and sets of high cultural value can also be found where the presence of a vast archaeological remains, as well as other constructions well integrated in the landscape, like the terraces existing in the slopes more sloping; the stone walls with dry joints, used in the delimitation of roads and rural estates; the threshing floors where the grain dried up; the caterpillars used in the manufacture of olive oil; the wells and their respective daughters; ovens, hermitages, traditional dwellings and numerous agricultural supports, huts and wallows, which served as an example to the space that serves as nursery and communication in the Andanças.
Relatively the flora is populated by cork oaks, holm oaks and areas cultivated of olive trees and vineyards. Facing north, the slopes have Atlantic characteristics, more somber, with higher humidity rates, where black oak and chestnut prevail. These have great patrimonial value because they are determinant for the conservation of nature. As for the fauna, there are numerous communities of birds: some considered rare, such as the black stork, the Bonelli’s eagle and the Griffin; and other more common ones, such as the hawk, the copper eagle, the kestrel, the kite, the tortoise, the bufo-real and the owl-of-bush. It is also possible to observe a great variety of mammals, such as the wild boar, the deer, the badger, the toad, the tails, the rider, the wild cat, the fox, and the rabbit.
The Póvoa e Meadas Dam is located about 11 km northwest of the town of Castelo de Vide. It was built in 1927 to produce electricity and was the first hydroelectric power plant in the country. Its reservoir is fed by the longest river in the county, the Ribeira de Nisa, and by a series of other small waterways. It occupies an approximate area of 236 hectares and 6 kilometers in length.
The lagoon bed is characterized by the existence of granite rock outcrops that contribute to a unique scenario. In the surroundings of the dam it is possible to visit dozens of archaeological monuments and others of a more ethnographic character, namely rock tombs of different periods (excavated in the rock or slabs) some forming necrópoles, tapirs, a medieval bridge, walks, huts, geckos). It is also a privileged area for the observation of species linked to the aquatic environment, birds, amphibians and reptiles, some in extinction (such as the otter and the black stork).
The village of Póvoa e Meadas is located 12 kilometers northwest of Castelo de Vide and has been inhabited since ancient times, as evidenced by the numerous archaeological remains of practically every epoch, from the Paleolithic to the present day. Located in a plateau area, approximately 350 m above sea level, predominantly covered by cork oak groves, olive groves, agricultural areas and riparian formations.
Once an autonomous municipality, it is currently the only parish that is not part of the town of Castelo de Vide. It is thought to have been founded by the Templars around the 13th and 14th centuries, around the current Misericórdia Church ( 16th to 17th centuries). The urban nucleus was built along the main road connecting Castelo de Vide to Montalvão. It also grew adjacent to the road that takes us to Nisa and another, in the opposite direction, that connects to the municipality of Marvão. It resulted, then, in a cluster compact and with very extensive arms.
This village owes its existence, essentially, to agriculture. The large landowners owned large headquarters buildings of the farming houses, splendid examples of rural architecture of agricultural function. The other dwellings, of humblest origin, belonged to the salaried population. Of the symbols of communitarianism, the one that more resisted was the Oven of the Passage, besides being used for baking bread, served to warm those on the winter nights who returned from the countryside and sat down before returning home.
Realçam-se ainda alguns elementos patrimoniais de referência como: a antiga Torre Municipal, as diversas igrejas e capelas, as numerosas fontes, o Sobreiro e a Anta do Pai Anes e outros vestígios arqueológicos de entre os quais se destaca o Menir da Meada, o maior da Península Ibérica.
Located 12 kilometers away, the village of Marvão, one of the most impressive in the region due to its location at the top of the Serra do Sapoio, is at an altitude of 860 meters. From Marvão to the ancient Roman city of Ammaia are only 6 kms to visit that which is one of the most important vestiges of the Roman civilization in the North of Alentejo. We suggest a refreshing stop at the Portagem Natural Pool, a picturesque rural village in the parish of São Salvador da Aramenha, bathed by the Sever.
Only 20 kilometers away, is Portalegre, the capital of Distritc, where it is worth visiting the Cathedral, the Municipal Museum, the Casa Museu José Régio, the Museum of the Tapestry, among others of which we highlight the Castle.
Nisa is 12 kilometers from the Póvoa e Meadas Dam. Of very ancient origins, Nisa has a vast heritage, such as what remains of the thirteenth-century Castle, the Portas da Vila (the Vila and Montalvão), the 15th-century Mother Church and the 16th-century Misericórdia Church an interesting Museum of Sacred Art), the Chapels of Calvary of the seventeenth century and that of Our Lady of Pleasures of the sixteenth century, or the interesting Anta de S. Gens, integrated in a set of four megalithic monuments. At the top, about 3 kilometers, you can visit the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Graça, with its viewpoint of unmissable views of the Alentejo plateau. And do not leave the village without sampling the typical sheep cheeses.
For those who want to continue the historical itinerary, you can also visit the beautiful villages of Crato and Alter do Chão.More information about the region and its points of interest here.