In October temperatures tend to decrease a fair bit, particularly in the mountainous regions. When the thermometer lowers people start craving for hot beverages, blankets and a cosy fireplace to stay warm. Aldeias do Xisto are a great destination during this time of the year. There you’ll find a curious mix of genuine people, comfort food and beautiful natural landscapes, which creates the perfect scenario to really unplug from the frantic rhythm of the daily routine.
Aldeias do Xisto, which directly translates to Shale Villages, is a network of 27 little villages located on a mountainous range right in the heart of the country.
Back in the days they were pretty much abandoned and forgot about, but in the year 2000 a rehabilitation project invested in the region and took the challenge of rebuilding the typical shale houses. At the same time, there was an effort to preserve the natural landscape, promote the cultural heritage and develop local experiences. This combination of achievements generated the platform Aldeias do Xisto, where you can find all the information regarding each village. Below are only a few of the many reasons to visit.
Long and Rich History
Traces of pre-historic occupation, archaeological findings, constructions and other artefacts that transport us to the roman, barbarian and moorish periods are proof that the region has been occupied for a long, long time. However, the main development of the shale villages was during the medieval time, mostly due to commercial, agricultural and religious reasons.
In the mid 20th century the villages were pretty much left behind, when the locals decided to leave and search for a better life. Lately there has been a movement on the opposite direction and more people are choosing this enchanted little villages as their home. Also, some interesting touristic projects have been drawing visitors from all over the country and the rest of the world.
Mesmerising Natural Heritage
The territory where the shale villages are located comprises four protected areas. This means biodiversity is a given around here. Conservation efforts have ensured a magical environment keeps wowing whoever visits, which includes riverbank beaches hid between massive rocks, waterfalls, beautiful viewpoints, dense forest and many rare plants. Also many species of animals share the same land and live in harmony, such as wild boars, deers, otters and many birds.
Great Comfort Food
The ingredients are locally sourced and the typical dishes are prepared with time and a lot of care. Flavours tend to be bold and heart-warming and most of them are perfect for colder days. There are many worth a mention, but the most famous ones are chanfana (oven roasted kid with wine cooked in a clay pot) and tigelada (woodfired treat made with custard and sugar), the perfect way to end a long meal! Restaurants around here are usually family ran and very rustic, which adds to their charm.
For adrenaline seekers and sport enthusiasts the mountains are a perfect place to unwind and get immersed in nature. There are many hiking trails with various difficulty levels, mountain biking paths, natural rocks perfect for climbing and rivers where canoeing is a delight. The less adventurous can venture on a jeep tour to travel across the natural areas and discover hidden gems.
If you need help planning an escape to the villages where the clock seems to have stopped ticking, let us know! You “shale” not regret it :)
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