Visiting Rio Maior – salt and more
Rio Maior ?
No, Rio Maior it is not a touristy destination! If you forget the Park of Candeeiros, the salt mines, the quietness of sleeping in Alto da Serra, the food at Cantinho da Serra, Pátio do Nicolau and other, what do you have?
Nothing, except its people, and cultural events, churches… shops… bars… not much!
Casa da cultura
“Baptized” as the house of culture, this modern building is an auditorium with 250 places, built in 2006 by the municipality.
There is really nothing astonishing in Rio Maior but the old centre of town still has some personality, with old churches and mansions recently recovered.
I remember the old small and nice church of Rio Maior and entered for the first time in the new one.
What a difference…
Wide, modern lines, the best of it is the access (easy to reach) and… parking.
Fifty years ago, Rio Maior was, for me, a garden surrounded by houses, with a small sporting field, where I went a couple of times to play Hoquei on wheels or handball.
Nowadays the field is gone replaced by modern pavilions, and the garden won an also modern church, but it is still there, respected by the city’s development.
Salinas (salt mines)
More than 200 meters above sea level, in a large valley in the southern end of the Natural Park of Aire and Candeeiros, a very salty spring is an odd event, that becomes the most distinguished reference of Rio Maior.
Locals trade salt (and anything else tourists decide to buy), in a line of wooden cabins, to resist to the salt.
In one of those cabins, a friend of mine started selling a new sweet pastry, his secret – “Pastel de Ló”.
Natural Park of Aire and Candeeiros
When entering the natural park of “Serra de Aire e Candeeiros” you may be hit by the strange landscape, where aeolic generators dispute the domain of antennas and tourist adaptations.
It’s a wrong idea, and the park still has some wild areas.
It’s especially impressive the descent from Casais Monizes to Alcobertas.
The road is surprisingly straight, and the descent is done in a wide scenery, almost giving the sensation that you are flying.
About 10 km distant from town, the village of Alcobertas has a strange presence of a “cyst” in the church.
It’s a prehistoric dolmen with a silly top: a modern roof.
I don’t like the idea, but it is funny to see.
Taverna da Raposa
Today I had a great experience!
Returning from Santarém, I discovered that the usual restaurant was closed, and decided to try something new, around Rio Maior.
I remembered that a few weeks ago I was surprised by the references (I didn’t remember where) to two good restaurants in Rio Maior.
I live in the area, have some friends from there, and their names were never mentioned in our conversations – strange!
I decided to try one of them but, as it usually happens, didn’t remember the names, only a ténue idea of their location, close to the center.
Walking in the area, I saw a name that, for sure, was one of them – Taberna da Raposa. That was it!
Well… a great lunch.The ambiance nice, small and cozy with a typical look, discreet and with good taste, and the service was gentle. We ordered grilled fish and meat, and it took some minutes, but the starters where excellent.
The best way to describe the two dishes is “look at the picture”. Everything was delicious, leaving no space for desert, only a good coffee.
I couldn´t believe in the price – 20.50€ for all.
Cantinho da Serra
Ups and downs
Sometimes, in this restaurant, you have an experience to remember. Next, another one to forget.
I never met a restaurant with such an unbalanced service, but ups are high, and downs only regular, so you may take a chance, expecting to coincide with one of the positive days.
Address: EN 1 – Alto da Serra
Phone: 351 243991367
It’s a big restaurant, prepared to large groups and special events. I was there in a marriage, everything was good, but I don’t know the regular and common service
Self-catering in the park
In the southern end of Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park, close to Rio Maior, two rural houses and windmills were adapted to short term renting. The place is isolated and steep, but cheap and close to most attractions of central Portugal.
Address: Alto da Serra (well signposted)
Directions: Close to Venda das Raparigas, 500 meters after the turn in IC2 to Rio Maior, the signs will be at your left, just before reaching the Alto da Serra.
Website: Casa do Moleiro
Oh my God!
I was not proud of our “Cruzeiro” in Turquel, remembering the nationalist purposes of its construction, during dictatorship (and at its service).
Anyway, I accepted that it was a distinguishable element, bad or good, inevitably part of our history, and now, I find in Rio Maior that it has… a twin. In location, I couldn’t find any difference. Back home, comparing photos… there is no difference at all.
Oh my God! How many of those stones did the dictatorship plant in Portugal?
Yes, after Handball and Roller Skating, my actual sport is dance, and we danced also in Rio Maior