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Alentejo on the Way to the Stars

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2 Days
From850€785€
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2 days
Availability : Mar 20’ - Dec 20’
Lisbon
Lisbon
Max People : 6

Feel the first warm rays of the sun with the break of dawn as you rise above the immensity of the Alentejo landscape.

See Évora like you have never seen before, as you wander through its ancient historic landmarks and streets lined with whitewashed houses. Visit Alqueva and admire the mysteries of the Universe as you learn about astronomy and astrophotography in one of Europe’s least light polluted areas. Explore the village of Monsaraz, perched high over the surrounding countryside, and enjoy the beauty of its houses on the banks of the water mirror of the Great Lake  Alqueva.

Tour Details

Departing from Lisbon, begin this tour with a stop in the rich historical city of Évora, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, known for its beautifully preserved ancient Roman temples and medieval cathedrals surrounded by narrow cobbled streets.

Visit the Great Lake Alqueva region, the village of Monsaraz and gaze at the stars and how they shine in the night sky in the Lake Alqueva Observatory.

Observe the green planes below and the morning sky reflected on the Alqueva Lake while you fly high in a hot air balloon as the dawn begins to break.

Experience the great Alentejo in a way you never thought possible!

Departure & Return Location

Day 1 – Pick up at 9am at hotel door in Lisbon.

Overnight in Monsaraz

Day 2 – Drop off at 8pm at hotel door in Lisbon.

Price Includes

  • Two lunches and one dinner at a typical restaurant
  • Regional wine tasting
  • Refined rural accommodation
  • Private tours in a Luxury car or Sedan
  • Professional Driver
  • Mandatory Insurance
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • All transport at destination

Price Excludes

  • Guide Service Fee
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Meals not referred
  • Entrances or Tickets not referred

Complementaries

  • Bottled Water
  • Wifi
What to Expect

Be prepared for new adventures and experiences!

This two day tour days begins with a visit to the capital of Alto Alentejo, the delightful city of Évora, that exudes Portuguese charm and brims with fascinating ancient historical monuments.

Then visit the medieval village of Monsaraz, one of the oldest in Portugal, which maintains its magic of yesteryear as few places in the world do.

The regions surrounding the Alqueva Reservoir are protected against the light pollution of the larger cities, making it a superb location to observe the stars, constellations and distant galaxies above for the most part of the year, and where you can learn about the Universe, astronomy and astrophotography.

Still in Alqueva, there is no better way to start a new day than to fly high up in the sky in a hot hair balloon over the vastness of the Alentejo landscape, as you feel the soft warm rays of the sun beaming through the horizon with the break of dawn.

Itinerary

Day 1Évora

Arriving in Évora, begin by visiting the great gothic Cathedral of Évora and its medieval cloisters, whose construction began in the 12th-century. The climb to the top of the building provides an excellent panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

Then stop by the Roman Temple of Diana, constructed between the 1st and 3rd-centuries, it was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Augustus. Located at the highest point of the city, it was part of the Roman forum.

Explore the Church of St. Francis, built between the 15th and 16th-centuries in the Gothic-Manueline style, and closely linked to the historical events that marked the period of maritime expansion of Portugal, evident in the symbols that make up the monumental nave of ogival vault.

Next to the Church of St. Francis lies the mysterious 18th-century Chapel of Bones, named so because its walls are completely lined with human bones. By the entrance is the following warning “We bones that here are, for yours await”.

Of the Royal Palace of Évora, built by King Manuel in the early 16th-century, the only surviving part is the so-called “Galeria das Damas”, where Mudéjar, Manueline and Renaissance influences blend.

Take a look at Convent of the Lóios and its cloisters, currently housing a pousada, and excellent examples of Mudejar and Manueline styles.

After having lunch on your own, discover the Roman Villa of Tourega, an old Roman farm. Then continue to the Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro, which at 6,000 years old is the oldest dolmen in the Iberian Peninsula.

Finally, visit the Almendres Cromlech, the largest group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the most important megalithic monuments in Europe, which was probably used for sacred rituals.

Day 1The Lake Alqueva Observatory - OLA

The region of the Great Lake Alqueva is among the ten best worldwide destinations for astronomical tourism. The region has been certified as “Starlight Tourism Destination” and is now denominated Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve is among the three Portuguese nominees that compete for the prize in the category of Best European Tourist Attraction 2018 of the World Travel Awards, known as the “Oscars of Tourism”, which every year recognizes and rewards different segments of the sector.

The Lake Alqueva Observatory is located at the center of the Reserve between the medieval village of Monsaraz and the Great Lake Alqueva. It is equipped with telescopes for solar and astronomical observations, allowing a unique visual experience of planets, galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. The guides have a vast experience as science communicators, are fluent in several languages and use accessible language using everyday life examples to explain physical and astronomical concepts.

Activities at OLA include:

Stargazing sessions

A stroll of the magnificent night sky of Monsaraz, where one can learn the orientation by the North Star, identify the constellations and know their legends, relate stellar colours with their ages, observe star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies with the help of telescopes. The explanations are presented with clear examples and language by OLA’s guides. When the weather is cloudy, OLA resorts to a simulation using astronomy software.

Astronomer for one night

During this night the participants are the on duty astronomer of the observatory. The participants learn how to use the main telescope of OLA to acquire images and process them in order to obtain superb images of distant galaxies and nebulae that they can take back home.

Astrophotographer for one night

During two hours the participants learn the basic DSLR camera definitions that will allow them to acquire landscape night photos. The session starts with a brief theoretical introduction followed by exercises in OLA’s field.

Day 2Hot Air Ballon ride

Start your day flying above the horizon in a hot air balloon, as these woven wicker vessels carry you to the highest of highs to see landscapes from awe-inspiring angles.

Feel the irresistible joy of flying over the mountains, viewing Monsaraz atop the hill and enjoying the beauty of the oak tree-lined fields, as you witness the break of dawn reflected on the Great Alqueva Lake, the largest artificial lake in Europe.

Join us and discover this scenery aboard a hot air balloon.

Some restrictions:
All flights are weather dependent.
Children under 6 should not fly.
Participants should be physically able to climb up and down the basket, stand for 1 hour standing, and have the physical ability to withstand an impact that a windward landing can cause.
People who have recently undergone surgery should not fly.
People with medical restrictions must inform us at the time of reservation.

Day 2Monsaraz

The medieval village of Monsaraz is one of the oldest in Portugal, maintaining its magic of yesteryear as if it were suspended in time. It is considered the museum village of Alentejo, winning in the category “Aldeias Monumento” of the contest 7 Wonders of Portugal – Villages.

The walls that surround the Monsaraz, erected during the Restoration War, guard a welcoming village with its ancestral streets, lined with the white facades of its houses and filled with wonders. See the 19th-century Pillory, the Chapel of St. Joseph, the House of the Inquision, the House of Juiz de Fora, the Church of Santiago, the old Cistern and the Chapel of St. John the Baptist.

The 14th-century Castle of Monsaraz is one of the best viewpoints on the Great Lake of the Alqueva, classified as a National Monument.

Visit the stunning Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Lagoa, built in the 16th-century in the Renaissance style, with a beautiful pediment decorated with a panel of tiles and a Cross of the Order of Christ. In its interior resides the tomb of Gomes Martins Silvestre, Knight Templar, and first alcaide and settler of Monsaraz.

Day 2Moura

Still in the route of the Great Lake of the Alqueva Reservoir is Moura, a city with centuries of history, located in the extreme east of the Alentejo, in the left margin of the Guadiana River.

Having been taken to the Moors in 1166, it was lost and reconquered several times until it was finally conquered in 1295.

It is considered a city of contrasts, with its streets being filled with majestic churches and discreet chapels, white houses in the traditional architecture and aristocratic palaces.

Visit the Church of St John the Baptist and the Mother Church of Santo Aleixo, recognized as national monuments, and the Castle of Moura.

Day 2Beja

Before arriving in Lisbon, visit the city of Beja, capital of Baixo Alentejo, located at the highest point of the Alentejo plains in the surrounding area.

Founded by the Romans and later dominated by the Moors for almost 500 years, its historical testimony has been preserved through an archaeological diversity of great significance.

Surrounded by a vast landscape of cork oaks and olive trees, it is known for its whitewashed buildings in the traditional Alentejo style, adorned with Moorish chimneys and elaborate tiles.

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