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Church and Castle of Santiago do Cacém

Starting from the north, Rota Vicentina begins at the beautiful church of Santiago do Cacém. The panoramic views over the city are inspiring and the view from the hillside with the Castle and the Church, a constant presence as far as the outskirts of the convent of Loreto. Have a good trip!

Montado and Forest

It is possible to observe cork oak forests along the route in two types of distinct formations: montado and forest. When cork oaks grow on open land associated to large areas of pasture or field crops, it is called montado. When they grow on land covered with bush, grasses and vines, it is called a cork oak forest.

Ruins of the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Loreto

It was probably built at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and is a testimony to the strong following of St. Francis in this area. They’ve also established settlements in Sines and Odemira (Convento de Santo António), as well as in some isolated shrines. Feel the scent of History and linger for a while.

What means the white numbers painted on the cork oaks?

White numbers painted on the trunk represent the last year the cork was collected. A cork oak has an average life span of 200 years, and is collected approximately every nine years. The cork only starts producing high quality cork when the tree reaches its 40th year.

Archaeological site of Miróbriga

Just 1.5 km from the city of Santiago do Cacém, the archaeological site of Miróbriga, at which there is a reception and interpretation centre, is a visit not to be missed. These are the ruins of a Roman settlement, with the necessary infrastructure to support pilgrims:  thermal baths, houses and a Hippodrome for festivities.

Historical Way


 

Santiago do Cacém » Vale Seco

18 km

 
 
 

This long distance path along Sw Portugal begins at the emblematic Santiago do Cacém Church, a city with a strong connection to the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. Since the Middle Ages pilgrims pass here coming from the Promontorium Sacrum, the mythical destination of this historic journey now recovered through Rota Vicentina

 



 
OPEN MAP

This section of the trail is dominated by cork trees, the Alentejo’s emblematic species. Vieira Natividade, a well-known Portuguese forester, said: “No other tree gives us so much while requiring so little”. The cork tree is crucial to the local economy and supports an extraordinarily wide-ranging ecosystem.

Cork oak forests also support various economic activities such as beekeeping, Nature orientated tourism, the collection of edible or medicinal mushrooms, (and even mushrooms used in the making of cosmetics), as well as husbandry of local animal breeds such as the famed Black Pig of the area and several different species of Alentejo cows.

Being an evergreen species, cork oaks provide shelter and food right up the food chain the whole year around. They are home to numerous insects and spiders which provide food for a wealth of different birds and there are over fifty different species that commonly nest in cork forests, among which can be found at least three different species of eagle, the Short-toed, Booted and Bonelli’s.

Other species of wildlife, such as the Wildcat, Genet or Weasel can also be found.

 

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Tips


Refreshments along the way

At 12.5 km, making a detour of 1 km, you will reach the village of Paiol.


Accomodation at Vale Seco

Vale Seco has few accommodations in the area. Request a transfer or taxi to reach the chosen accommodation, or opt to sleep in Santiago do Cacém or Cercal do Alentejo.

 
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Where to start

Santiago do Cacém:

At the Church of Santiago do Cacém, descending towards the Parque Urbano of the Rio da Figueira.

Vale Seco:

On the N120 between Cercal and Santiago, on the road to the Campilhas reservoir. 1st crossroads on the dirt track.

Fact Sheet

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY
DISTANCE: 18 KM
APPROXIMATE DURATION: 6 HOURS
ACCUMULATED CLIMB: 332 M
ACCUMULATED DESCENT: 389 M
MAXIMUM ALTITUDE: 281 M
MINIMUM ALTITUDE: 119 M
RECOMMENDED SEASON:
SEPTEMBER TILL JUNE
 
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Warnings

To all mountain bikers

If you are making this journey by mountain bike, you should start at the exit of the Park, since cycling is not permitted inside the Parque Urbano of the Rio da Figueira, and the Church access to the Park passes through several flights of stairs and a fairly steep descent. 

 
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RULES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

THE CIRCULATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES PUTS WALKERS AT RISK
AVOID DOING THE HISTORICAL WAY ON A MOTOR CYCLE OR IN A JEEP, LOOK INTO OTHER OPTIONS
DO NOT LIGHT FIRES
SEVERAL FARMS AND CATTLE HERDS ARE PROTECTED BY GUARD DOGS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
BE CAUTIOUS WITH CATTLE, ALTHOUGH GENTLE, THEY DO NOT LIKE STRANGERS APPROACHING THEIR CALVES.
THESE TRAILS PASS BY PRIVATE PROPERTY. RESPECT IT AND CLOSE GATES AND FENCES YOU WILL FIND ON THE WAY.
THERE ARE VERY FEW SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE TRAILS. BRING WATER AND FOOD SUPPLIES WITH YOU.
IN SOME PARTS OF THE TRAILS YOU WILL HAVE TO CROSS PAVED ROADS. BE CAREFUL!
YOU WILL FIND SEVERAL LOCATIONS IDEAL FOR PICNICS. DO NOT, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LEAVE TRASH BEHIND.
BE FRIENDLY WITH THE LOCALS, TELL THEM WHY YOU’RE THERE AND SHARE EXPERIENCES.