Alter do Chão
guide to visit
Alter do Chão
Supposedly, Alter do Chão was a Roman settlement named “Abelterium”, founded over another previous settlement from the Iron Age. “Albeterium” would have been crossed by one of the three main Roman roads that linked Lisboa to Mérida. From this roman period of occupation there are several vestiges in the region, the most important ones are the Ruins of the Thermal complex just by the entrance of Alter do Chão.
Alter has an elegant and charming heritage, in between the lovely small white houses with coloured bands with one or two floors, along with the opulent manor houses from the 17th and 18th century like the Álamo Palace and Gardens where nowadays functions the Tourist Office, an art gallery and a library, or even the Nobre da Barreira House.
There’s plenty to see in Alter, like the Castle which construction dates back to the 14th century, and even served as a residence to nobility; the Nosso Senhor Jesus do Outeiro Church (17th century), the Misericórdia Church (20th century), the Santana Chapel (17th century), the São Francisco Church (17th century), the Nossa Senhora da Alegria Church (16th century) settled apparently over the first church built in Alter, rhe Church of the Santo António Church (17th century) or even the Santo António dos Olivais Chapel dated from the 16th century.
Nevertheless, Alter do Chão is mainly famous for its “Coudelaria” (a big farm where racehorses are bred), founded in 1748 by King D. João the 5th, in order to breed the “Lusitano” horse for the Royal horsemanship. The Lusitano is an ancient Portuguese breed of horse, with ancient origins, developed for use in war, dressage and bull fighting.
Nowadays the “Coudelaria de Alter” houses several features like the Professional Agricultural School, the Equestrian Art Portuguese School and a campus of the Évora university, among many other features.
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