Prehistoric Portugal and the Iberian Mesopotamia

Hidden away in the cork forests and olive tree covered hills of Alentejo are some real historical gems — especially in the area around Guadaloupe near Evora which is known as the “Iberian Mesopotamia.” The most famous of these is the Cromlech of the Almendres megalithic complex — an ancient stone circle, and to the South the amazing passage mound — The “Anta Grande do Zambujeiro.”

The double stone circle at Almendres is considered one of the most important stone circles in Europe. It dates from 5000-4000 BC and consists of 92 standing stones arranged in an oval.

We visited the stone circle early in the morning before all the tourists arrived.

We walked up through the trees to find this beautifully preserved historical site in front of us.

The stones are arranged in two oval circles and nearly all of them have flattened heads which face towards the sun.

This is a beautiful magical place full of earth energy.

The passage mound to the south is equally fascinating but not as beautiful in itself as it has to be supported and boarded up to keep out unwanted visitors.

The Anta Grande do Zambujeiro (Great Dolmen of Zambujeiro) dates from c.4000-3500 BC. It is the largest dolmen in Europe.

The dolmen is located in a peaceful setting among olive and cork trees. The main chamber — measuring 8 meters high and 6 meters in diameter — is formed by eight standing stones leaning inward. Leading to the chamber is a 12-meter-long approach corridor made of smaller standing stones.

The capstone has been removed by archaeologists and the artefacts found here (pieces of pottery, flint tools, beads and other items) are on display at the Museum in Evora.

We are hoping to return later this year with the 4-wheel drive so we will be able to explore other areas and sites nearby which are “off road.”