Over the last few years, the Central region in Portugal gained new life thanks to the recovery of 27 traditional villages. Led by ADXTUR – Agency for the Tourist Development of the Schist Villages, and with the cooperation of 21 municipalities of Central Portugal, the locals committed themselves to this project of recovering of their villages.
Little by little, schist houses, the trademark of the region, were restored using traditional techniques, tourist landmarks were improved and new commercial activity centres managed by local inhabitants were created. Rural tourism areas, extreme sports offers, restaurants invested in traditional food and local handicraft was recovered in order to turn Schist Villages into one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Portugal, revitalising the region and bringing those who wish to be amazed by the natural charm of the Beirã region into the interior of the country.
The Schist Villages are located in 4 main areas:
Lousã Mountain: Aigra Nova, Aigra Velha, Candal, Casal de São Simão, Casal Novo, Cerdeira, Chiqueiro, Comareira, Ferraria de São João, Gondramaz, Pena, Talasnal
Açor Mountain: Benfeita, Aldeia das Dez, Fajão, Sobral de São Miguel, Vila Cova de Alva
Along the Zêzere river: Barroca, Álvaro, Janeiro de Baixo, Janeiro de Cima, Mosteiro, Pedrógão Pequeno
Along the Tejo-Ocreza: Água Formosa, Figueira, Martim Branco, Sarzedas
In these small villages, distributed over 14 municipalities in the country, there is always something to do. Stroll through the winding streets of the villages, see houses made of schist, where life still follows rural routines and farming, and cattle breading are essential to the everyday life of its inhabitants. Visit its many overlooks and see the stunning landscapes where the villages become little more than rock formations surrounded by green vastness.
Learn about the traditions of these people who, living isolated, independent and always keeping their faith in God, built and brought to life a rich cultural heritage which can be seen in the number of churches and chapels, the bright colours of popular fairs and pilgrimages as well as in their daily habits. Discover the natural wonders of this land; explore mountains and rocks, caves and waterfalls, rivers, dams and river beaches, fauna and flora in ideal scenery for all type of open-air sports. Taste the wonderful food of Beira which is a part of the Gastronomic Charter of Schist Villages, by taking a tour through the traditional restaurants which will always welcome you. Enjoy the available activities offered by the local cultural agenda which include exhibitions, theatre, pedestrian walks, meetings, music, markets and festivals. They offer a different way of enjoying the region to all tastes and sensibilities. Thus, it is worth your while to live the interior of Portugal.
The diversified choice Schist Villages have to offer you relies on the support of a solid structure of qualified agents. They really boast local economies, are organized under an effective and concerted structure which, thanks to the gradual experience acquired over years, offers you a network of villages with bodies affiliated with them. Things like Schist Villages Stores, the River Beaches Network or the Rock Art Network allow, on a sustainable development level, an association between tradition and innovation, everyday maintenance and tourist offers. Born out of a dream, Schist Villages are now a reference in quality, renovation, creativity, preservation and good practice. They are the best of Portugal at the disposal of those who want to discover the Central region of the country.
This is the smallest group of Schist Villages, as well as the most spread out. The proximity to the Alentejo plain can be utterly felt in the landscape.
The dazzling protected landscape of Açor Mountain is the home of 5 enchanting Schist Villages. A pristine nature that takes us back in time, embraced by a soul-soothing silence.
Precious jewels at the heart of an inspiring nature! The stunning landscape of Lousã Mountain is the perfect setting of 12 enchanting Schist Villages: Aigra Nova, Aigra Velha, Candal, Casal de São Simão, Casal Novo, Cerdeira, Chiqueiro, Comareira, Ferraria de São João, Gondramaz, Pena and Talasnal.
A deep immersion in the natural and cultural diversity that makes the Zêzere river valley a unique landscape in the heart of Center of Portugal.
The Schist Villages have been certified by the Starlight Foundation as an International Starlight Tourism Destination thanks to the Dark Sky Schist Villages project.