Campo Maior


guide to visit

Campo Maior

Campo Maior is a lovely calm village situated in the vast Alentejo region, nearby the border with Spain. A land of history, tradition and costumes where peace of mind and tranquillity are the rule.

The origins of Campo Maior are quite ancient and, according to a curious legend, the settlement got its name when three families decided to settle together for greater protection in a place they all could comfortably fit, as this region was in war between Muslims and Christian, and one of them exclaimed when they discovered a clearing in the brushwood: "This is our bigger field (campo maior)!"

Nevertheless, Campo Maior has vestiges of previous occupation, such as Roman and even Moorish, with its white small rural houses with coloured bands in narrow streets that breath history.

Several episodes marked the history of this town and of the Alentejo region as well, and in the 17th century, Campo Maior was the second most important military centre in all the Alentejo (after Elvas). In 1732 a huge explosion on a powder magazine destroyed much of the city and more than one thousand people died. Much of the town was afterwards restored, reconstructed and rebuilt.

The heritage of Campo Maior is the living testimony of this rich history, as one can observe through its Castle, or through the beautiful Mother Church with its macabre Bone Chapel (Capela dos Ossos) built after the big explosion, or the São João Baptista Church, the República Square with its lovely Pillory, or through the interesting 18th century Santo António Convent.

In a region marked by plain landscapes, the Campo Maior region has two dams (Caia and Abrilongo) that change all the panorama and provide great conditions for the most diversified type of leisure, sport and nautical activities.

In Campo Maior is located the biggest Industrial zone for roasting coffee in the Iberian Peninsula, with all the information and interesting features provided in the remarkable Coffee Museum.

Campo Maior is famous for its amazing “Festas do Povo” (People’s Festivities) when all the village is dressed by colourful paper flowers handmade by all the population that artistically ornament the streets, transforming the village in a wonderful handmade garden.
These festivities used to be held every year in September, but nowadays they only take place whenever the “people decides”.

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