Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Portuguese Stonehenge

Cathedrals.  Medieval-walled towns.  Beautiful beaches.  Grilled sardines and madeira.  Colorful azulejos (painted tiles).   Castles.  Roman aqueducts.  And even a megalithic stone circle.  For such a small country, Portugal can hold the interest of a traveler for weeks.

The above group of boulders were placed on this hill about 5,000-6,000 years ago.  That fact alone is a puzzle.  Who put them here?  And how did prehistoric man have the means to haul such enormous stones up a sloping hill?  They are located outside the town of Evora, and no one knows for sure what they represent.  Theories include both astronomical possibilities or religious rituals.  The placement of several concentric circles suggests observation of the stars and sun, but the symbolic engravings hint at fertility rites.

For me, it was a nice break from the cities.  Besides the views being panoramic and beautiful, we had the place mostly to ourselves.  I could not believe we were allowed to wander among these monoliths and touch them.  The real Stonehenge is now off limits.  Just one more reason to visit this incredible country!

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