There are natural phenomena that leave us speechless, due to their size, their natural beauty or the way in which chance created elements that seem to have been sculpted by the hand of Man. From north to south of Portugal, we find many examples, almost always associated with legends and superstitions. From stones that “give birth”, to human-shaped rocks, to dragon-shaped rivers… Join All About Portugal and let yourself be enchanted by these natural phenomena, which are true masterpieces of Mother Nature.
Birthing Stones - Arouca
A stone giving birth to another? It seems impossible, but it happens, and it is a unique geological phenomenon in Portugal, rare in the world and one of the most emblematic geosites in the Arouca Geopark. Here, from a huge mother stone, of a rare granite, other pebbles measuring around 1 to 12 centimeters in diameter are born, detaching from the “progenitor” and spreading around it, leaving it with small dimples. To better understand these enigmatic rocks, visit Casa das Pedras Parideiras – Interpretation Center, in the village of Castanheira, in the middle of the Freita Mountain plateau. In the ancestral tradition of the region, it is believed that sleeping with a birthing stone under the pillow increases fertility.
Old Woman's Head - Seia
Sculpted by the hand of Nature, this natural beauty reminds us of the image of an old woman, without teeth, immortalized in a huge block of granite. Located near the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Desterro, in Seia, and at the gates of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, it is associated with the legend of a maid, named Marta, who is turned into stone for betraying the secret and prohibited love of a young couple, Leonor and Afonso. Regardless of its origin, it's a good excuse to discover the region and go on an adventure to the highest point in mainland Portugal.
Boca do Inferno - Cascais
This place is so impressive that, in 1930, it served as the setting for a bizarre event, which left the Portuguese press in an uproar. Aleister Crowley, an eccentric British man connected to the occult, simulated his death here. The poet and writer Fernando Pessoa was an accomplice, who participated in this pre-fake news farce, hyping up the event with his writings. Novels aside, it is one of the most surprising viewpoints in Portugal and its name (Hell's Mouth in English literal translation) is due to its shape (mouth) and the frightening impact of the waves in this place, especially in winter. It is thought that it was a cave, which, due to the wear and tear of the impact of the Atlantic Ocean, opened to the sea. Today it is one of the most emblematic places in Cascais and a privileged point to enjoy magnificent sunsets and take interesting walks.
Odeleite – Castro Marim
Sometimes we just need to change our point of view to see things from another perspective. That's what happened in 2015, when an aerial photograph revealed to the whole world a secret that was in plain sight, in Castro Marim, in the Algarve: the shape of an imposing blue dragon from the reservoir of the Odeleite Dam. Since then, the phenomenon has attracted visitors from all over the world, especially Chinese, for whom the animal is a symbol of power, strength and luck, and has earned the epithet “River of the Blue Dragon”. Superstitions aside, make the most of your visit and discover the beautiful village of Odeleite, the wind and water mills typical of the region and let yourself be surprised by the charms of the Algarve mountains, another of Portugal's best kept secrets.
Benagil Cave - Lagoa
It is one of the most iconic natural phenomena in the Algarve and can only be visited from the sea. Visiting it from the inside, by boat or kayak, is an unforgettable adventure, but alternatively you can climb to its top to peek inside, where you will find a kind of skylight that illuminates the cave. Although science explains the phenomenon through the force of Nature, popular imagination tells the story of two lovers (she, a princess and he, a commoner), who – once again – saw their love forbidden. He ended up murdered in this place and his loved one's tears were so many that they excavated these huge graves in the rock, today one of the most shared images by tourists from all over the world on social media.
Lagoa das Sete Cidades – São Miguel
It is one of the most photogenic natural phenomena in Portugal. Located on the island of São Miguel, it is the largest freshwater lake in the Azores and was formed in the crater of a volcano that had a historic eruption in 1445. But what makes this natural wonder unique is the fact that its waters have two colors different colors, blue and green. Science explains that the colors differ depending on the depth and concentration of the algae that exist in the ponds, which, by reflecting the sky, end up revealing the color of the algae. But legend tells us another, much more romantic version. That of a princess with blue eyes, who fell in love with a shepherd with green eyes, who, upon seeing their love forbidden by the king, said goodbye forever in this place and filled the ponds with tears, and each one of them acquired the color of their eyes.