Golden plains that disappear out of sight combine with the sun and the heat to impose their own slow, steady rhythm. This is the Alentejo.
Inland, the vast golden wheat fields undulate in the wind; along the coast, unspoilt beaches look rugged and unexplored.
The open, ample landscape is peppered with cork-oaks or olive trees that have withstood the ravages of time. Occasionally sturdy fortress walls rise up from hills, as at Marvão or Monsaraz, or you’ll see just a simple dolmen reminding you of the magic of the place. Atop small hills stand white one-storey farmsteads, while the castles are reminders of the battles and conquests that once took place here. The patios and gardens bear witness to the influence of the Arabs, who helped to shape the people and the nature.
In the Alentejo, the brute force of the land dictates the march of time. Perhaps this is why the region’s culture has its own particular character. All you need to do is visit Évora and discover its Roman roots and the delightful charm of its heritage to understand why the city has been classified as a world heritage site. When you see the temple of Diana and some of the city’s churches, you’ll regard your time as well spent.
But don’t travel northwards or southwards without exploring the region’s coastline. There the landscape consists of high sheer cliffs sheltering tiny beaches. And there are also the sweet smells of the countryside, the herbs and spices used to season fish and seafood dishes. Here the time passes slowly, because the Alentejo follows the rhythm of the land itself.