Jo’s Monday walk : Sunkissed in Serpa

Meet Serpa!  Small town Alentejo at it’s very finest. You may think I’m leading a slothful life, induced by food, wine and intoxicating sunshine, here in the Algarve, but I do occasionally stir myself to take you somewhere special.

It’s an easy whizz up the IC27 from Castro Marim, on a switchback road of magnificent views.  Suddenly you reach the extremity of the Algarve, glide across the border and hit a narrow country road.  Straights, twists and turns, endless eucalyptus trees, nesting storks and lazy cows.  Almost no people, and often you can see for miles, beyond an isolated farmhouse.  This is rural Alentejo.  A searing hot place in Summer, but a good place to be on a sunny Spring day.  Skirting around Mertola, a right turn and gentle persistence (known as N265) will bring you to sleepy Serpa.

Don’t you love these heroically gnarled olive trees?  Following signs to the historic quarter, I note the unusual chimney pots.  Narrow streets, with deep pools of shade, cutting off the sun’s glare, are very typical of this region.

It’s always a surprise to step out of the shadows into the magnificense of Praca da Republica.  Bathed in sunlight, the grey and white loses its solemnity.  Meanwhile Cafe Alentejano dispenses food to all comers, especially when it’s lunchtime for those in the grandiose council offices.  I recline, with wine, happily adjusted to this pace of life, and then nonchalantly wander, pausing to appreciate window delights.

Steeped in history, Serpa dates back to the pre-Roman era and has, at various times, been occupied by Celts, Romans, Moors and the Spanish.  Just 30 kilometres away, Beja (known to the Romans as Pax Julia) was their southern capital of Lusitania.  Near to the Guadiana river and the border with Spain, Serpa was a defensive stronghold, belying its current peaceful nature.

Leaving the square, I’m confronted by the bell tower of a church and a mighty flight of steps.  Mounting them, I am level with the rooftops.

But the surprises don’t end there.  Turn a corner, and how about this for a castle entrance?

A nervous glance overhead and I’m into the castle forecourt and gazing around.  Plinths display remnants of gleaming stone frieze and a flight of steps leads tantalisingly aloft.  Since I was here last work has been carried out to make the castle walls more accessible (including a lift).  I climb with mounting excitement until, finally…. I can see for miles!

The castle keep was damaged  by Spanish invasion, and in 1295, following the Reconquista, King D. Dinis ordered the reconstruction of the castle and a walled fortification.  These were added to in 17th century.  I stay up there for a long time, examining each and every angle, entranced by all that I can see.  Can you spot my final destination?

Eventually the aqueduct lures me off the wall.  I can really do no better than let Becky tell you all about it.  She and her husband are enthusiasts.

My idea of a grand day out, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  Our road home through the Alentejo was enhanced by a brief visit to Mina de S. Domingo, with it’s striking church and lakeside walks.  An adventure for another day.

It’s a stormy prospect in the Algarve this week.  Part of me hopes that it won’t disrupt tomorrow’s challenging walk, but part of me won’t mind if it does.  Becoming lazy in my old age!  Not sure if I will share a walk with you next week as I’m off to the lovely city of Jerez on Wednesday.  When I return I’ll only have a few days left in the Algarve, and plan to enjoy them.  Meantime, thanks to all my contributors.  It must be time to get that kettle on and settle in for a good read.

…………………………………………………………………………….

 

Starting our walks with Anabel this week.  A little damp but lots of diversions :

Amsterdam: walking East

You could say that Jackie has a fondness for food, as well as sunshine :

Frijoles Refritos

Lady Lee loves both of those.  This is a wonderfully colourful post :

More of Singapore

It’s a white world, in Irene’s eyes, whichever way you look at it :

Opposite Sides

Something completely different from Geoff (and his Dad) :

The Old Road (with random pictures…) #dad’spoems

And from my lovely friend, Drake, who recently lost his Dad :

Cold or cool

Becky’s walk last week ended in tears, or certainly a great degree of discomfort.  Hope you’re back to normal, Robert!

Sunbathing goats, snakes and Little Owls

Staggeringly beautiful in the sunlight, join Carol, Down Under :

More than a Walk in the Park

Eunice was losing sleep over this one.  Last Drop Village sounds tempting :

A local walk in the sunshine

That’s it from me, for now.  Take good care, and join me soon for another Jo’s Monday walk!

 

105 comments

  1. Sincerely, your photos and your tour are as beautiful as I am there and I see them !!!

    Be good and travel to us … even mind!

    My love from Greece I send you !!!

  2. The views from the castle walls are stunning. Thank you for sharing them. It’s overcast here today, so the blue skies in your photos are much appreciated.

  3. Goodness that’s a formidable castle, I don’t understnd how some of the big chunks are staying up! i rather like the look of that cheese, add some bread, fruit and a lottle glass, I’d be a very happy girl. Of course I’d have to walk first to earn it.
    Hugs darling x

  4. My idea of a perfect day out as well, unless I’d kick one of those “cannon balls” on the plaza and trip, because I am looking up and around at all the beauty of the town center! That fort, wall and aqueduct are fantastic. Exciting to explore and attractive to photograph. Enjoy the rest of your Algarve stay, Jo. I don’t blame you for being a tad lazy.

    1. Made recompense for the laziness with today’s hill walk, Liesbet. The company was good and the weather not too awfull (15C with a bit of mizzle is better than the snow at home 🙂 ). Jerez tomorrow and I’m excited. 🙂

  5. And what’s wrong with a bit of slothful life, induced by food, wine and intoxicating sunshine? As usual, fantastic photos, and the warmth they convey is helping me combat the incessant media threats of incipient snow-horror about to descend on us. I don’t quite believe it, but it’s enough to unsettle one.

    1. I’ve just been viewing snowy photos from home on Facebook, Mari. Horrors, indeed! Still 15C here. A gentle sprinkle of rain at the end of this morning’s walk, followed by a wonderful, convivial meal. We’re off to Jerez tomorrow and hoping the weather Gods are kind, but we’ll take whatever we get. It’s been glorious so far. 🙂 🙂

  6. Wow Jo just Wow, my sort of place from that amazing old gnarled olive tree to the steep steps and interesting rock entrance and what a great day for looking at and taking photos of those views that just stretch forever. Enjoy your last few days, hope it stays fine for you.

  7. You ALWAYS walk somewhere special – and I’m very fond of sloths. Although in all honesty I can’t conceive of you as one! I love the way you weave history and sights unobtrusively together. The sights I particularly love are the olive trees, the chimney pots, the rooftops, and the castle – is that broken masonry, or incorporated rock? A grand day out indeed. But then all your days are. A hug or two from incipient autumn.

    1. Sitting here clutching my first coffee of the day, I’m a bundle of weary bones this morning, Meg. 🙂 🙂 Not sure if today’s arduous walk will be on or not. It’s dry at present so, probably. I may enjoy it in spite of myself but I could easily be swayed and cut straight to the restaurant. Of course, we Striders don’t do such things 🙂 It is beautiful up there but ‘rugged’, and my mountain goat days have pranced away. Moans and groans over, it’s good to be alive, isn’t it, and Serpa is the most delightful place. You would appreciate a stroll there. The wise one has just arisen and says it’s broken masonry. Coffee fueled hugs. Ready to march! 🙂

  8. I could get very quickly become used to the relaxing lifestyle you’ve described here, Jo. It sounds delightful and I look forward to that time of life very much. The view at the end of all these steps and uphill paths was certainly worth the effort. It’s stunning.

  9. Gnarled olive trees are the best, Jo. But so are wine, good food, the blue sky, a ditto sea, lovely white villages… I’m afraid I could go on 🙂
    I wish you a superb pleasant stay and thank you for taking your time to remind us in the cold North about another temperature 🙂 🙂 ❤

    1. The weather is catching us up a little this week, Hanna, but still I’ve wandered back from a restaurant in Tavira tonight thinking how very lucky I am. 🙂 🙂 And I do appreciate your company.

  10. What a beautiful & interesting destination Jo! Even though I love all of your fabulous shots, I have to say the gnarly trunks of those olive trees are simply stunning! I am fascinated by old trees, I often imagine the stories they could tell!

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