Murteiras Archaeological Complex

Photography: © José Manuel Rodrigues

Versão portuguesa  
   

English version

 

The Central Alentejo is one of the most important regions in Europe in terms of megalithic remains, with nearly a thousand known sites. The Herdade das Murteiras Archaeological Complex comprises the remains of settlements and different types of burial sites at a single site. Excavations have revealed fascinating information about the dynamics of land use and cultural continuity at the site spanning several millennia.

Megalithic structures represent a type of ceremonial architecture whose origin is associated with the emergence of neolithic societies: the first pastoral and arable farmers in the Atlantic coastal regions of Europe.

The neolithic revolution led to the establishment of the first sedentary settlements in these areas and the construction of the first megalithic structures, although most of them – burial chambers and sites – were actually built later, during the 4th millennium BC.

The many different types of megalithic monument all feature the use of large stone blocks. These structures were designed to make an indelible mark on the landscape, and many had a role to play in the ritual systems of the societies which later populated these regions.

The Herdade das Murteiras estate is situated in an exceptionally well-preserved rural environment, forming the frontier between two distinct types of landscape which are typical of the Alentejo region.

To the south, there is an area of granite, with dense cork-oak and holm-oak montado, or dehesa, landscape, a typical feature of the Alentejo region. This is where the main Neolithic settlement is located, set in a maze of striking naturally-sculpted outcrops whose fantastic shapes fire the imagination.

To the north, there is an extensive area of farmland, extending in places as far as the city of Évora, in which granite outcrops are notable by their absence.

The exceptional nature of the region's megalithic remains is largely due to the fact that it is where the basins of the three main rivers in southern Portugal meet: the Tagus, the Guadiana and the Sado.

 

 

 

The Herdade das Murteiras Archaeological Complex is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty due to the landscape and forest cover. During your visit, please help to conserve the area by taking great care and keeping in mind environmental preservation. This is an agricultural estate, so beware of farm traffic and the presence of farm animals. When driving or walking on the estate, please remember to close gates after you.

 

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