In this magical world, where time passes more slowly, the hospitable people always have the time to welcome visitors and to share their stories, crafts, and traditions. In fact, here you can have a range of tourist experiences to learn and discover, with your family or by yourself, about weaving, woodworking, introduction to pottery, ceramics and design, or more scientific activities, such as the identification of local flora and fauna. There are even workshops that relate to the villages’ local foods, at which you can learn how to make traditional goats’ cheese or bake bread in wood-fired ovens. You can experience these activities in almost every Schist Village, especially in Cerdeira village, where there is an open-air gallery. Through effort and imagination, the local artisans have created a space where art and creativity can flow freely. It is a place of artistic creation through international artistic residencies, training workshops and creative experiences.
The 27 villages scattered across the Lousã and Açor ranges and quite close to Serra da Estrela are called Schist Villages because this is the abundant local stone used in construction. Each village has its own identity and is a destination not to be missed. The various shades of the schist, also used for paving the narrow winding streets, mingle seamlessly into the colors of the natural landscape. It’s not always easy to distinguish them, but it’s worth a try!
Much of the villages’ charm is in the pure nature surrounding them, for instance the river beaches with crystal clear water where you can find moments of relaxation. In the forests, you can explore on foot following the Schist Trails, or on the bike trails labeled according to their level of difficulty by the Mountain Bike Centres, which also provide other support to cyclists. You can equally participate in more extreme sport alternatives such as canoeing, climbing, abseiling and rope slides.
The center of Portugal has preserved castles that appear to emerge out of the mist, straight out of fairy tales, and museums and monuments that bear witness to what life was like many years ago.
During your visit, take a moment to savor local gastronomic delights made from recipes passed down from generation to generation. Don’t forget to take home with you a handmade article of linen or wood into which the local craftsmen have put all their skill and knowledge.
To organize your trip better, take a look at the activities and accommodation that the Schist Villages offer you on their website, or check the list of accommodation options by municipality at Visit Portugal.
Come and learn something new, or “re-learn” an art most people have forgotten – and lose yourself to the charm of these amazing Schist Villages.