Drawing on a pool of expert guides, we can organize for you to go birdwatching at sites either close to Lisbon, or near the major battlefield sites. Species that can be relatively easily seen include: Flamingos, Avocets, Black Ibis, Ospreys, Marsh and Montague Harriers, Griffon Vultures, Greater and Lesser Bustards, Stone Curlews, Purple and Squacco Herons, Azure Winged Magpies and Bee Eaters, not to mention the ubiquitous White Storks.
Portugal is steeped in history and has a unique collection of over 200 castles and fortresses, many built by the Moors in the 8th Century and others by the Portuguese as a defence against the neighbouring Spanish. Many castles which have remained unspoilt over the centuries can be found near all the battlefield sites we visit. For instance, an hour’s drive to the west of the Northern Corridor, at least five medieval castles can be visited within a relatively small radius in under a day: Trancoso, Marialva, Penedono, Longravia and Numão.
We can take you to visit a variety of historical gardens close to most of the battlefield sites. Near Lisbon, one can visit the Palácio de Queluz near Lisbon and both the Monserrate Gardens and the Palácio de Pena at Sintra. Moving north, the forested gardens of the Palácio Hotel at Bussaco are well worth a visit, as are the gardens at the Serralves museum in Oporto. East of Oporto is the magnificent Casa de Mateus. To the south, Vila Viçosa near Elvas is also worth a visit.
It is little known that the oldest fossilised dinosaurs’ embryos in the world were found in Portugal and are on display at the local museum at Lourinhã, together with the second largest collection of fossilised dinosaur eggs in the world. Lourinhã is close by to the battlefield of Vimeiro. Dinosaur footprints can be seen at Cabo Espichel, south west of Lisbon and the Serra de Aire, on the drive to the North from Lisbon.
The Portuguese Lusitana is related to the Spanish Andalusian horse, well known from the Spanish Riding School at Vienna, Austria. There are several breeding centres that can be visited, three of which are interspersed along the Lines of Torres Vedras. We can also arrange for a ride on a Lusitana and in the summer we can visit the impressive display of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at Queluz, near Lisbon, where riders dressed in seventeenth century costumes perform classic dressage and dance manoeuvres.
Fine examples of stone circles, tombs and dolmens ("antas") can be visited near the battlefield sites of the “Southern Corridor”. The earliest stone-circle in Europe is at Almendres, near Évora and the passage-mound with the largest stones in Europe is nearby at Zambujeiro. The Menhir de Meada is the largest in the Iberian Peninsula, standing just over 7m high. Not too far from Bussaco and the Northern Corridor we can visit the Anta de Cunha Baixa dolmen, close to Mangualde. The Prehistoric Rock-Art sites of the Côa Valley are considered to be the best open-air Paleolithic archaeological sites in the world. They date from 22,000 to 10,000 years BC and are situated along the Portuguese-Spanish border, not far from the battlefield sites of the “Northern Corridor”.
Conimbriga, not far from Bussaco, is the best preserved archaeological site in Portugal, covering 9 ha. For those visiting the battlefield sites of the “Southern Corridor”, a detour can be made to see the Temple of Diana at Évora, as well as the ruins at São Cucufate and Ammaia, also in the Alentejo region. The ruins at Troia and Mirobriga are relatively close to Lisbon. The Spanish town of Mérida, 60 km to the east of Badajoz, used to be the capital of Roman Lusitania and has a host of well-preserved ruins including a Forum, Amphitheatre and an impressive bridge.
We take very opportunity to introduce the most characteristic local wines during the battlefield tours. There are many good wineries that can be visited along the way, some open to the public and others privately-owned. The oldest demarcated wine region in the world is the Douro region, which is easy to visit from Oporto. The Alentejo region is home to full-bodied reds and can be visited on the way to the “Southern Corridor” battlefield sites. Even along the Lines of Torres Vedras one can visit plenty of wineries, including several at Bucelas, home to the white wine that was so much appreciated by Wellington, that he helped popularize it in London, where it became known as “Portuguese Hock”, on Account of its similarity to German Rieslings from the Rhine.
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