Circuit 14/ B - Serra da Estrela, Covilhã, Manteigas


Afer a few days' rest in your holiday home you should launch on a discovery of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park.

Serra Estrela

Serra da Estrela is a granitic mountain range, oriented NE-SW, which is 50 km long and extends into do Açor and da Lousã mountains. It includes the highest mountain top in Portugal, with an altitude culminating at 1993 m, marked by a monument called "Torre". The average annual temperature is 8,5º C and rain précipitations are superior to 2000 mm3; it is the only spot in Portugal where it is possible to practise winter sports. Normally there would be snow from 1450 m upwards from december to may. The ski resort is situated in Loriga, close to the Torre summit.
The landscapes are astonishingly beautiful, the bizarrely shaped crags and gorges, mountain streams and lakes, beautiful forests and magnificent views, make the area one of Portugal's scenic attractions. Rivers Zêzere and Mondego have their headwaters in the range and follow magnificent valleys. Serra da Estrela is in fact a huge 101060 ha natural park, in which the fauna and flora is protected by law.
In this region they make the most famous cheese in Portugal, "Queijo da Serra", a cured cheese made from raw sheep milk following ancestral traditions and using thistle flower for coagulation. The other gastronomical traditions are based on kid, sausages, trout…. The local shops sell many handicraft pieces which all tell stories about the area.

Torre - 1993 m


Sta Maria - Covilhã


The largest town in Serra Estrela is Covilhã. It is the access gate to the mountain, with an altitude from 500 to 800 m. The fortified walls and the large towers of the city were partially destroyed during the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. A Royal Textile Factory was established in Covilhã by Marquess of Pombal in 1763 and the town became an important centre for wool industry, to the point that it became known as the "Portuguese Manchester". The remains of the former textile factories can still be seen along the two streams that cross the city.
Covilhã is still today a reference in the natioanl textile production. Because of its rich history it presents visitors with an interesting heritage, like the "Museu de Lanifícios" considered by UNESCO as the best taxtile museum in Europe.
A public university was established in Covilhã in 1979.
The town now has 53.000 inhabitants and is expanding on the lower end of the valley.


Manteigas is a small spa resort with traditional architecture. Its thermal establishment is fed from two springs of hot (42°) sulfurous water, which is used in the treatment of rhumatism, dermatose, respiratory and bone affections.

There is a number of other small towns, which are all worth visiting.
Penhas Douradas and Penhas da Saúde are ski resorts in winter and holiday resorts in summer, Unhais da Serra is a climatic spa resort, Gouveia ont the sur south side of the mountain is an important centre for cloth production, Seia, lying at the bottom of the mountain, invites visitors into its Bread Museum.



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