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Almendres Cromlech: Meet the Portuguese Stonehenge

6 de March, 2023

Almendres Cromlech: Meet the Portuguese Stonehenge

Portugal has one of the oldest megalithic monuments in the world: the Almendres Cromlech, known as the Portuguese Stonehenge.
Reading: 6 min

The megalithic structures of prehistoric times have always intrigued humans, generating numerous theories for their existence and function, some of them immortalized in literature, as is the case of the classic book “Were the Gods Astronauts” by Erich von Däniken. The most popular structure of this kind in Europe is Stonehenge in England. But there are other interesting monuments scattered across the continent. And a curiosity: Portugal has the most impressive ensemble of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in the world: the Cromeleques dos Almendres, located in Alentejo, known as the Portuguese Stonehenge. Learn more about this fascinating monument.

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Where is the “Portuguese Stonehenge”?

There is no “Portuguese Stonehenge” exactly, but there are several megalithic monuments scattered all over the country, which are similar in some aspects to the famous Stonehenge in Wiltshire, near London in England.

O Almendres Cromlech is one of the largest set of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most important in Europe. It is located about 13 kilometers 13 kilometers from the city of Évora, in Alentejo, southern Portugal continental Portugal. It is formed by a set of about 90 menhirs, in cylindrical shape. At its height it would have had about a hundred. Many of the stones were removed and destroyed over the centuries. However, the number of stones that remained is still impressive.

Some of the menhirs are arranged in concentric circles, while others appear to have been placed in a straight line. The two rows of aligned menhirs are about 120 meters long and were arranged parallel to the central circle. Most of the stones are made of granite and are between 1 and 3 meters high, although some reach almost 4 meters.

This archaeological site was discovered in 1964, by researcher Henrique Leonor Pina, while he was working on the Geological Map of Portugal.

Almendres Cromlech, Alentejo.

Almendres Cromlech Interpretive Center

In 2019, the Almendres Cromlech will have an interpretive center to support visits to the space, welcome tourists, and offer educational services and interpretive content about archeology and nature.

At the Center you can see reproductions of Paleolithic shelters and a Neolithic hut (full scale and built with the original materials and techniques). In addition, it features replicas of objects from that time, such as hunting weapons, chipped and polished stone tools, pottery, votive objects, among many other items.

It is also possible to picnic on site and participate in workshops on pottery, stone carving, shale slab decoration, and the use of prehistoric weapons.

The Cromeleque is a tourist attraction open to the public every day of the week, all year round. It is recommended to check the updated schedule before you go.

Hours of Operation: Summer (May 1 to October 31) – 10am to 7pm Winter (November 1 to April 30) – 10am to 5pm.

Price: Access is free, but workshops and guided tours are charged.

How to get there

The center is on Rua do Cromeleque in the village of Guadalupe with the following GPS coordinates: 38.567801, -8.027456.

By car: The easiest way to get to the Almendres Cromlech is by car. From Évora take the national road to Lisbon and after 8 km take the turnoff to the left towards Guadalupe. From there it is 3 km to the village of Guadalupe. There is a parking lot close by.

By public transport: You can also reach the Almendres Cromlech by public transport. There is a bus line (number 8) that runs from the center of Évora towards the cromeleque. However, the frequency of these buses may be limited, and there may be waits.

Megalithic structures: what are cromeleks?

A megalithic monument (from the Greek mega=large, and lithos=stone), is a monumental construction based on large blocks of rough stones. They are typical of prehistoric societies, especially the Neolithic. Portugal has countless megalithic monuments, formed by dolmens, dolmens, dolmens, tumuli, cromelechs, menhirs and fools.

Cromeleques

They are concentric circles of stones, where the highest stone usually stands in the center of the circle. It is believed that cromelechs were used for religious or ceremonial purposes.

Antas

They are funerary structures composed of an access corridor and a burial chamber. They were used for collective and individual burials.

Mamoas

They are also funerary structures, but usually consist of a large stone dome with a side entrance. They were also used for collective and individual burials.

Dolmens

They are funerary structures composed of two or more vertical stones that support a horizontal slab, forming a kind of table. They were used for collective and individual burials.

Menhirs

They are vertical stones placed on the ground, usually alone or in groups. They may have been used to mark territorial boundaries, for religious or ceremonial purposes.

Does the Almedres Cromlech possess any magical power?

There is no concrete evidence that the Almendres Cromlech possesses any magical or supernatural power. While the exact purpose of the monument remains a mystery, scholars believe it was built for religious or ceremonial purposes, such as a place of worship or an astronomical calendar to mark solstices and equinoxes.

It is possible that the people who built the monument believed in spiritual or supernatural forces, and that the cromelech was considered a sacred site or one of great spiritual importance. However, there is no evidence that these beliefs were associated with any specific magical or supernatural powers.

Today, the Almendres Cromlech is valued primarily for its historical and archaeological importance, as well as for its beauty and fascination. As an important megalithic monument, it continues to attract visitors from all over the world, who come to admire its ancient art and architecture and try to unravel its mysteries.

Other megalithic monuments in Portugal

Portugal has a rich megalithic heritage and is home to many such monuments in its territory. Some of the most famous are:

Almendres Cromlech: Located near Évora, it is the largest stone circle in Portugal and one of the most important megalithic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula.

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro: Located in Valverde, it is one of the largest tapirs of the Iberian Peninsula, weighing about 70 tons.

Barrosa Dolmen: Located in Alcácer do Sal, it is one of the largest dolmens in the country, about 6 meters long and 3 meters high.

Almendres Menhir: Located near the Almendres Cromlech, it is one of the largest menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, with a height of about 4.5 meters.

Anta da Comenda da Igreja: Located in Évora, it is one of the best preserved dolmens in Portugal, with a burial chamber covered by a stone slab almost 6 meters long.

These are just a few examples of the many megalithic monuments that can be found in Portugal. Each of these monuments offers fascinating insights into the country’s prehistoric past and are important archaeological and tourist treasures. If you wish to live in Portugal, and have all the historical and cultural beauty of this incredible country close to you, talk to our consultants! Atlantic Bridge has the perfect alternative for you.

*Silvia Resende is a journalist at Atlantic Bridge. From Bahia, she arrived in Portugal in 2015 to build a new life together with her family. She has a degree in Communication from UFBa, in Brazil, and a Master in Communication Sciences from the University of Porto. She has worked as a TV host, reporter, event producer, public relations and tour guide in Porto. She loves to travel and to discover the cultural and natural heritage of each place she goes. She visited the Almendres Cromeleque in 2019 and loved the experience!

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