This stone circle outside Évora is known as “the Portuguese Stonehenge”
Huge oval boulders, looking like gigantic stone eggs (some 3 meters/10 feet tall), stand on the ground, forming a mysterious circle. It's one of Europe's largest prehistoric monuments and said to be one of the continent’s (and humankind’s) oldest, formed about 7,000 years ago with close to 100 stones. Most were unearthed in the 1960s, and scholars repositioned those that had tumbled.
The cromlech is one of Europe's largest and oldest prehistoric monuments
Geometrically aligned in relation to the equinox, it’s believed to have been associated with astronomical observation and sacred rituals, especially during the sunrise on the summer solstice. About a dozen monoliths still show carved drawings (snake-like shapes and circles), which have miraculously survived to this day and remain a mystery. A couple of them have human-like figures that possibly represent gods or deities, and are believed to have been used for cult purposes. They have their origin in an Iberian culture that spread north as far as Denmark, and that had a good understanding of the stars and the seasons.
The stones have been studied since the 1960s
Often called the “Portuguese Stonehenge,” it’s actually 2000 years older than the famous monument in England. It’s found about 13km (8 miles) west of Évora, and there’s a “visitor center” nearby, in a building covered with cork from the region. Several displays provide historic information about the site, and a shop offers products from the area.
Before you go, pass by Centro Interpretativo do Megalitismo, an exhibition in a former convent in Évora, located just outside the walls, down the road from the bus station (on Avenida de São Sebastião). It explains the megalithic culture of the region, and displays a few artifacts found at the different sites, as well as models of the Almendres cromlech and of the houses of those who lived in the surroundings.
Insider's Tip: If you enjoy the cromlech and similar sites, stay at the Vitoria Stone Hotel, which is a contemporary design hotel, but with a stone interior inspired by megalithic culture.
How to Get to the Almendres Cromlech
The Almendres Cromlech is easy to reach, taking the N114 road, which connects Évora to the town of Montemor-o-Novo. The journey time is about 25 minutes, but you need to rent a car, as there is no public transportation. Just follow the signs, and eventually a dirt road leads directly to the site.
Admission and Tickets to the Almendres Cromlech
Both the visitor center and the actual site are free.
The exhibition in Centro Interpretativo do Megalitismo opens on weekdays from 9:30am to 12:30pm and again from 2pm to 6pm. On Saturdays it’s open in the afternoon, from 2:30pm to 6pm. It’s closed on Sundays.