Walks & Stories – Aljezur
“ THE SMELL OF THE SALT INFUSED AIR TRIGGERS MY IMAGINATION AND TAKES ME BACK IN TIME, MORE THAN A 1000 YEARS AGO… ”
“I close my eyes as I stand on top of the castle of Aljezur in the early morning hours. Fresh ocean air coming from the Amoreira valley caresses my skin, my ears catch the hollow sound of waves crashing in the background, a seagull’s cry announces the arrival of a new day.
The smell of the salt infused air triggers my imagination and takes me back in time, more than a 1000 years ago. I open my eyes again and stare down at my feet that are supported by brown leather sandals. A rough dark blue linen, waving in the wind, hides my dark tanned skin from the sun. My eyes feel sharp like those of a vigilant eagle hovering in the sky looking for prey. My hands are covered with a green blue ink drawing in an ancient language, resting on the cross-guard of a sword.
I see trading ships sailing upstream under foreign flags, seeking safe harbor after a long and dangerous voyage from the North of Europe. With the wind in their sails, they enter the river valley that is filled up to the bottom of the rocky hills with brackish water. Sailors tired from the rough seas, dried fish and rice meals, are ready to unload the goods and head to the inn to drown their sorrows in wine and gambeling games, while the captain pays his duties at the toll house. My gaze lingers over the horizon, old native forests stretch all the way to the coastline and all I see is water. I feel like I am standing on an island. Streams coming down from the Monchique mountains flow into the rivers that surround the village of Aljezur. The labyrinth-like streets of the old town are buzzing with sounds of commercants and traders. Farmers stroll over the fields, harvesting their crops. One just puts a seed in the soil and waits patiently, everything seems to grow here. Things used to be different for my people, living in arid and hostile desert environments, the abundance in food is overwhelming.”
This short story is an appetizer for the historic walk through the old town of Aljezur. I’ll take you on a journey in time through the old village to rediscover its ancient, Moorish roots. Together we’ll explore a forgotten page of Portuguese history, safe to say a part of the local identity and its cultural heritage.
Throughout the cobblestone streets, lingering next to the old harbors by the ribeira, I share the bits and pieces of tangible and intangible stories of the people who once walked these streets, ate, slept, prayed, traded and culturally enriched these lands. The Algarvian landscape, architecture and vegetation wouldn’t have looked the same today if the 500 years of Moorish presence had never happened. There is no better way than ending the tour together, overlooking the view from the castle with a refreshing glass of natural wine from a local producer and savoring a few delicacies they left us with.
I invite you to walk with me, to imagine and better understand, without necessary prior knowledge, an inspiring part of the history of this beautiful region.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bram Hermans (BE) is a storyteller with a background in Cultural Studies. Having studied Art History in Granada (Spain), once the epicenter of the Moorish kingdom, he got fascinated by the stories and architecture that were left in town. Three years ago Bram arrived in Portugal by bike, fell in love with the country and has been living here ever since. Together with his father, he runs Son of A Collector, a vintage shop with old prints and maps. Intrigued by the beauty in the region, he offers guided walks and private hikes for small groups in the Aljezur area.