silves pr, vale fuzeiros, 6,4 km
PR Archaeological circuit of Vilarinha
A surprising and interesting walk can be done at Vale Fuzeiros, not far from São Bartolomeu de Messines, Silves council. The village and valley are situated in between the Arade and Funcho reservoirs on one side and the Silves-Messines road on the other. Offering good agricultural conditions the valley has been populated by several peoples through the ages. Along the walking route several sites can be observed with remains from these times which is what makes this walk interesting. Other than that it is a lovely walk for the views of rural scenery and it makes a good hilly work out.
Leaving from the centre of the village, not far from Café Restaurant Casa da Vinha, we pass immmediately through orange and lemon groves to show that the citrus culture is the main agricultural activity around here. The path starts climbing and almost on top of the hill we turn south to find the necropolis of Pedreirinha just off track. In the 6th and 7th century AC inhabitants under Visigothic influence used the big local stones to construct graves for certain members of their agro-pastoral society. Back on track a steep climb to the top brings us one of the Vilarinha menhirs. It is the first of four menhirs aligned along the ridge of the Vilarinha hill range. The menhirs are far older than the necropolis we saw before. Supposedly dating back to early Neolithic times, the new stone age, some 6000 to 5000 years BC. After being erected several later peoples contributed to these symbols with various kind of engravings. The route passes all 4 menhirs of the Cerro da Vilarinha. From the hill tops we have great views south towards Portimão and Praia da Rocha. Soon after passing the 4th and biggest menhir we descend until the Gregórios road and a small stream, tributary to the Arade river not far away. Vegetation becomes higher here. A small eucalyptus forest is being explored for its wood and after that the dominating rock rose shares the schist rock soil with cork oak, arbutus (medronheiro) and lots of lavender explaining the many bee boxes in the area. The Gregórios road takes us back to the southern side of Vale Fuzeiro village near Café Silva. However there's more fun to come since the route continues on the western high side of the valley. The soil changes from the thin sliced schist rock into bigger red coloured stones. This local stone is often used in construction in the Silves and Messines area and is also known as Grés de Silves. Pre-moorish inhabitants as the Visigoths were probably already aware of this application since the Carrasqueira necropolis where we are looking at consists of these big blocks. The walking route continues along the outer line of houses from the village offering serene western views towards the Funcho reservoir. We follow and cross the road that leads to the reservoir and recently opened reproduction centre for the endangered Iberian lynx. Unfortunely we did not encounter one this walk. The odds are very small. This animal (lynx pardinus)is on the verge of extinction in Algarve. After some more surprising turns and single track our walk comes to an end following the main road from Café Restaurant O Gralha back to the starting point in the village.
To complete the archaeological circuit one should still visit the Amorosa necropolis on the southern slope of the Pedreiras hill. It can be made part of the walk, however to avoid a fair stretch up and down the straight main road visitors can stop off when they leave Vale Fuzeiros in the direction of Amorosa and São Bartolomeu de Messines. The necropolis is indicated well before the Amorosa crossings. It is again a noticable leftover from agro-pastoral societies in late Roman or Visigothic times 8 to 6 centuries BC.
Distance: 6,38 km.
Accumulated ascent: 170 m.
- Difficulty: 3/5
- Scenery: 3/5
Points of interest:
- Necropolis of Pedreirinha
- Menhirs of Vilarinha
- Necropolis of Carrasqueira
- Necropolis of Amorosa
- National centre for reproduction of the Iberian lynx (CNRLI) on the road from Vale Fuzeiros to the Funcho reservoir, www.icnb.pt, www.aguasdoalgarve.pt
Food & drinks:
- Café Silva, Vale Fuzeiros south
- Café Restaurante Casa da Vinha, Vale Fuzeiros centre
- Café Restaurante O Gralha, Vale Fuzeiros north
Track author: Municipality of Silves, www.cm-silves.pt, Associação In Loco, www.in-loco.pt