Thursday, April 18, 2013

Alentejo, the forgotten part of Portugal

End of March, I spend a week in Portugal; 2 days of shooting in Lisbon followed by a 1000 km photography trek around Alentejo.

Winding roads of Alentejo

Probably one of the least known areas of Portugal, Alentejo is largely an agricultural area.

Cork trees near Nossa Senhora

Since about 50% of the worlds cork production is harvested in Portugal, the area is literally dominated by thousands of cork oaks. 

Cork trees near Nossa Senhora

These trees which live up to 200 years, need to be minimum 25 to 30 years before they can be harvested for the first time. Subsequent harvests  then happen only every 9 to 12 years. The more reddish trunks are the ones that have been harvested more recent. To keep track, the year of the last cutting of the cork, is painted on the trunk; e.g. 8 for 2008, etc... 

Olive trees at Montemor-o-Novo

Beside the cork production, the area also has vast numbers of olive trees. Some of these are hundreds of years old with one particular one near Lisbon, being classified as being 2850 years!

Lonely street at Estremoz

Even though Alentejo covers a third of the countries total area, it only holds 7% of the population. I guess the image above tells it all!

Aqueduto da Amoreira - Elvas

Close to the Spanish border, we visited the city of Elvas, where I photographed the Amoreira Aqueduct. This architectural wonder, with towers rising more than 30 meters, was started in 1498 and was finally finished 124 years later.

Aqueduto da Amoreira - Elvas

There are plenty of photographic opportunities along this 8 km long structure, which rightly has become a National monument.

 Stork building nest, at Comporta

Part of Alentejo is also a huge breeding ground for thousands of White Storks. While most of these birds used to be migrating to West Africa for the winter, some of them are now staying in Portugal all year round.

Landing stork, Alentejo, Portugal

Over the years, there has been a huge effort by the electricity companies to make electricity pylons safer for Stork nests.

Black pig, Setubal district
A culinary delight is the "Black Pork", a speciality of the region...  

Wild coast at Porto Covo

Towards the end of the trip, we paid a visit to the wild coastline of Alentejo. Porto Covo, 170 km South of Lisbon, proved perfect for some long exposure photography. 

Lonely tree in ALentejo, Portugal

When I first started planning the trip, I had visions of wide open colourful spaces with a single tree. Pretty much like the image above.

Even though the weather did not fully cooperate, the weeklong trip to Alentejo and Lisbon was another interesting travel photography adventure.

Remember; " The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist only sees what he has come to see" - G.K Chesterton


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