Albufeira do Alqueva is one of the references for those visiting this region of Alentejo, whose landscape has been completely transformed by Lake Alqueva. If you are visiting this destination, All About Portugal has prepared an itinerary for you with what to see near Albufeira do Alqueva. Water is synonymous with life and the reservoir not only enhanced the Historic Heritage but also contributed to countless cultural, sporting and gastronomic activities, which make this region a top destination. However, so that you really get to know how it all started, we propose a visit to Aldeia da Luz, a symbolic start, but of great importance that marks the before and after the construction of the Alqueva Dam.
Aldeia da Luz
We chose Aldeia da Luz as the starting point for this trip, especially because of the comparison with the past that the visit offers to those who arrive here. Located in Mourão, it was built from scratch to relocate the inhabitants of the former Aldeia da Luz, submerged by the waters of Lake Alqueva after the construction of the dam. Despite the attempt to make a replica as faithful as possible to the old village, there was a need to create the Museum of Light so as not to forget the past.
The award-winning Museu da Luz asserts itself as a space of culture and identity. Built between Aldeia da Luz and the shore of Lake Alqueva, it has exhibits that promote the identity, history and landscape of the ancient village submerged in the lake. Perfectly integrated into the landscape, the Museum building was built in shale blocks and was designed by the architects Pedro Pacheco and Marie Clément.
The surrounding landscape of Lake Alqueva is rich in monuments that have lasted through time, and in good condition, such as the Castle of Mourão. It benefits from a privileged location next to Lake Alqueva, whose water flows over land where once only the vineyards and olive groves could be seen. Outside its walls, the Matriz Nossa Senhora das Candeias church stands out. From the Castle of Mourão, you can see the magnificent fortification of Monsaraz.
Located on top of a hill, Monsaraz is a fortified medieval town that offers us two authentic postcards: the Alentejo plain and the lake of Albufeira do Alqueva. The view to the outside of the fort is absolutely breathtaking, but if we look inside, we will also be enchanted. The houses are whitewashed and, we venture to say, almost all have flowers or vines on the door and are the perfect setting for taking pictures.
Dark Sky Official Observatory
If you like stars, know that the Alqueva sky was the first place in the world to be certified by the
Starlight Foundation as a “Starlight Tourism Destination”, which stands out above all for its low light pollution. To learn more about all the experiences you can have under the Alqueva night sky, we suggest a visit to the Official Dark Sky Observatory, located in Cumeada, in Reguengos de Monsaraz. In 2021, the village was classified by the World Tourism Organization with the seal of Best Tourism Village.
Heading south, and around the reservoir, we suggest a visit to the Castle of Moura, which has a keep dating from the time of Dom Dinis and the ruins of the Convento das Freiras Dominicanas. Within the castle walls there is a large grassy space. Don't forget to climb the Clock Tower where you can enjoy the view of the urban center of the city of Moura.
Fortress of Juromenha
Heading towards Alandroal, we find the Fortress of Juromenha. With a polygonal model, it has several observation points that offer magnificent views of the Alqueva water body, both to the Portuguese and the Spanish sides. From the castle of Moorish origin, only the remains of the fence remain. Inside the enclosure there are still the ruins of two churches, the jail and the old Town Hall.
Like most castles, it is located at the highest point of the historic town of Alandroal. In Gothic style, Alandroal Castle is one of the architectural works of the reign of Dom Dinis. In the Torre da Cadeia and Porta Legal there are remains of Moorish architecture and Gothic tombstones commemorating the work.