22 March 2015

ÉVORA: Capital of the Iberian Megalithic

The outskirts of Évora, and especially the land immediately to the West of the city, make up the most diverse and monumental megalithic landscape in the Iberian Peninsula.

​​​ÉVORA: CAPITAL OF THE IBERIAN MEGALITHIC

The outskirts of Évora, and especially the land immediately to the West of the city, make up the most diverse and monumental megalithic landscape in the Iberian Peninsula.

The amount and size of the megalithic monuments in Évora is related, first and foremost, to the area's privileged location in terms of natural travelling routes: in fact, on the outskirts of the city we can find the only place at which the hydrographical basins of the three largest rivers in the South – the Tagus, the Sado and the Guadiana – meet.

The structural role, for primitive road networks, of waterlines and hills – the lines dividing the hydrographical basins – was certainly a determining factor in the exceptional nature of Évora’s megalithic heritage.

Megalithism apparently emerged as a phenomenon rooted in the cultural practices of the last hunter-gatherer communities, reflecting profound ideological changes, originating in the eastern Mediterranean, along with a new agro-pastoral economy. The specific character of the area around Évora seems, in this context, to be a consequence of the dynamics of the megalithic communities which, in the Tagus and Sado estuaries, just as in Brittany, two of the most important centres of the European Atlantic seaboard.

The monuments/sites proposed in this itinerary are not isolated. Just in the Évora district, there are currently more than ten known megalithic sites, almost a hundred single menhirs (or associated in small groups), around eight hundred dolmens and some four hundred and fifty “megalithic” villages. There are also some rare examples of related monuments, the tholoi, and, in the area of the Alqueva Dam, an extraordinary rock engraving sanctuary was discovered, which is now underwater. There are also around a hundred rocks with indentations, mysterious monuments  that are almost certainly related to megalithism; in effect, the indentations often appear on megalithic monuments.