Like any other country, Portugal has its fair share of mountains, some known better than others. Serra da Lousã is quite famous, being home to one of the main attractions of Portugal’s mountainside, the schist villages.
Together with Serra do Açor and Serra da Estrela, Serra da Lousã is the third element in the most imposing Portuguese mountainous formation, Cordilheira Central ou Central Mountain Range.
Within these mountains, we find a path filled with authentic traditional schist villages, immersed in wildlife and nature.
This mountain range dates historically to the Pre-Cambrian period, and is considered to be quite old geologically. It is also one that, among all the mountain formations of the Central Mountain Range, stands out for being mostly schistose.
Historically, these villages began to emerge and settle in the middle of the mountains for pastoral and agricultural needs. The populations moved to these places because of the abundance of nature, vegetation and environment conducive to these activities.
The emergence of these villages along the territory of Serra da Lousã is also related to the geographical location on trade routes and the connection to religious orders.
These are unique villages because of the way the whole village structures, all the residential and agricultural buildings are made of schist. Even the roofs sometime have a base of schist combined with tiles.
To complete the schist look of the houses, an old and rustic style, wood is used a lot in their interior. From the floor of each level of a house to the furniture and decorative pieces, wood is very much in demand in these villages.
Another characteristic are the small eiras, typical schist floored squares scattered throughout the villages. Eiras are places of common use, sometimes with natural fountains from the mountains or wells. They are spaces for receiving visitors into the villages, for socialising or, more recently, for small restaurants.
The houses are not particularly spacious in length, but rather in height, and almost always have several floors. Historically, the basement floor was designated the lojas as a place where animals were housed. These subterranean floors continued to be used, now renovated as bedrooms or kitchens.
There are a few more features that characterise these schist villages. They are built on sloping terrain, with lots of stairs and narrow paths that connect every village to each other.
The coming and going of people
The schist villages are often subject to the flow of events and necessities of the people. Historically, after a while, these villages become mostly deserted and ruins. Cities were economic and commercial centres, therefore if you wanted the chance to grasp a better job opportunity and prosper, you had to be based there or close by.
With the 21st century, this scenario has changed dramatically. The schist villages began to undergo extensive rehabilitation in order to increase tourism in the area and stimulate the surrounding economy.
Individually, there has also been a growth of private individuals who have decided to buy land or ruins with land, to make a second or vacation home there.
With the city of Lousã only a few minutes away, depending on which village you are in, these villages of this bring together the best of both worlds. The calm and tranquility, the fresh and unpolluted air, that you can only get in the middle of nature. The proximity of a city, with all the diversity of services and goods that it provides at a safe distance, so it does not disturb the calm of the mountains.
A customised ready to go trip, just waiting for you!
Portugal has a wide network of registered schist villages, 27 in total in the Central Region of the country. And 12 are in Serra da Lousã.
Some schist villages are more famous than others. Nowadays, most of these mountain villages have undergone rehabilitation work. You can count on the diversity of services already located within the villages, from restaurants to small groceries and B&B’s.
If you’re visiting for the first time, there are three villages you cannot miss: Casal Novo, Talasnal and Candal. Each with their own distinctive features, they share the same tendency, as they extend along the steep slope of their respective hillsides.
If you need some geographical points along the way, to keep the tour diverse, you can count on:
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