Megalithic Sites in Evora Portugal are Older than Stonehenge

Stonehenge is probably the most famous of the world’s megalithic sites, yet Portugal is home to several megalithic sites that are older, free to visit, less crowded, and still allow visitors to walk through the grounds. We visited two of these sites, both in close proximity to each other, located just outside of Evora, Portugal.

[Megalithic Sites: large stones that have been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or with other stones.]

The larger of the two megalithic sites we visited is Almendres Cromlech. A circle of 93 huge stones that were strategically placed here from 4000-5000BC making them about 2000 years older than Stonehenge. Visiting here is quite surreal. There are no fences and we are free to stand amongst nearly 100 monoliths and even touch them. Unlike many of the crowded European places we visited, we were alone here. Standing amongst these giants, wondering why they exist.

Almendres Cromlech is one of the megalithic sites in Evora Portugal

Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex in Evora Portugal

Carvings on a stone at Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex in Evora Portugal

On some of the stones, carvings still remain, although difficult to see due to erosion.

Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex in Evora Portugal

Standing in the center of the Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex in Evora Portugal

Information in English and Portuguese about the Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex in Evora Portugal

Information is in English and Portuguese.

Nearby we visited Almendres Menhir, a single monolith that stands 4 meters tall.

The Almendres Menhir is a monolith dating back 6000 years, and standing nearly 4 metres tall outside of Evora Portugal.

The Almendres Menhir is a single stone (monolith). Although it sits about a kilometer away, it is aligned with Almendres Cromlech on the winter solstice sunrise.

Prior to visiting these sites, we had been impressed that Newgrange, outside of Dublin Ireland was 400 years older than Stonehenge. These are not the world’s only ancient megalithic sites. The oldest discovered so far are from the Mesolithic period: Göbekli Tepe in Turkey (9500BC); an unnamed monolith found under the water in the Strait of Sicily (9350BC); and, Quinta da Queimada Menhir in western Algarve, Portugal (9100BC).

The oldest Neolithic megalithic sites are Atlit Yam in Israel (7000BC), followed Almendres Cromlech. Additional countries where megalithic sites older than Stonehenge have been discovered include Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta,Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and Wales.

As we drove out to the site, we saw cork trees. To us, this was new and exciting. We later learned more about them at a Cork Museum in Spain.

Cork tree outside Evora Portugal

Hubby points at the spot separating the portion of the tree with cork from that which has already been removed.

Practical Information:

  • Both Almendres Menhir and Almendres Cromlech are always open and both are free to visit.
  • Located about 18km east of Evora, they are easy to find following the signage. There is no physical address but driving directions from Evora are simple. Head east for about 8-10 km on N114. Then, turning left onto CM1075 you will head Southeast until you arrive. The second road makes many twists and turns. Click here for more detailed driving directions.
  • There is no public transportation to these sites, so the best option is to rent a car.
  • If you are in Evora in the summertime, remember there is no shade at these sites and it will be extremely hot in the afternoons. Plan to visit in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • We used Lonely Planet Portugal.

We visited Evora as we traveled through Spain in 2012 between two home exchange houses – the first in Catalunya, the second in Galicia. It was part of our 250-day overseas adventure. The key stops in Spain were Saragosa, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, Seville, and Vigo. In Portugal, we visited Evora, Sintra, Obidos, and Alcobaca.

Where have you seen megalithic sites?

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Almendres Cromlech and Almendres Menhir are two megalithic sites in Evora Portugal, each more than 2000 years older than Stonehenge.
This post also linked at Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.30.17 pm The Weekly Postcard, Wanderlust Wednesday, Weekend Wanderlust, Travel Photo Thursday, Fly Away Friday, and Photo Friday.

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Comments

  1. says

    We’ve visited a few of these cites in other countries and I’m always amazed at these beautiful rock creations! Hopefully we can make it to this one on our Portugual trip as it looks just lovely. #Weekend Wanderlust.

  2. says

    I think I would much prefer to see Almendres Menhir and Almendres Cromlech than Stonehenge in England. We have visited Derinkuyu and the Nevşehir fortress in the Capadoccia’s in Turkey, and this is now believed to be megalithic city.

    • says

      There are so many amazing places out there that haven’t made it to the main stream yet. Of course, this is part of their charm. If it were as popular as Stonehenge, then Portugal would probably change the access.

  3. says

    Hi Rhonda – what an amazing site … I’d love to see it. It’s fascinating how our early ancients lived and raised stone monuments … probably to the sun … they keep searching for more information … gorgeous photos. I’d love to visit a cork museum … cheers Hilary

  4. says

    Amazing to come across these places especially when you do not have to pay to enjoy them. You mentioned Stonehenge which everyone visits but did you go to Avebury which is free to walk around and much larger than Stonehenge. There are a few other places in the UK like that

  5. says

    Very interesting. I haven’t seen any methalithic rock sites but I have seen some fascinating rocks in Australia. One such site was Murphy’s Haystacks which are inselberg rock formations located at Mortana, between Streaky Bay and Port Kenny on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Google them and you will see why.

  6. says

    It’s so nice to learn about something so great that is easily over looked by bigger more touristy destinations! #Wkendtravelinspiration #WeekendWanderlust

  7. Rachael@safari254 says

    I am a lover of history and would love to visit these sites. What I would really love to know is the reason why such sites exist, I hope that scientists will be able to solve the mystery in my lifetime.

  8. says

    This is very interesting. As a history lover, I am sure I would like a place like this. Plus, the setting is very beautiful. Thanks for highlighting the place.

  9. says

    What an awesome place to visit Rhonda. I had no idea about Megalithic statues to be honest – although I do know a little bit about Stonehenge. Thanks for sharing your lovely pics 🙂

  10. says

    WOW – had no idea about these places! How amazing to explore such history and geology. The cork tree also blew mind mind too! I have never seen one of them too! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. says

    Good info for us, impressive as it may be I have avoided Stonehenge so far as it is hard to justify £40 plus pounds to see the megalith at a distance. I would much prefer to walk among the stones. I am currently planning our trip back to Europe and Portugal was one of the places we thought we would hit first. We will definitely plan to see these megaliths.

  12. says

    I’ve been to Stonehenge and Avebury in England. I didn’t realise there were so many megalithic sites spread throughout the world! Not sure why but I always heard they were associated with Celts so I assumed it was only in the British isles.

  13. says

    Amazing Rhonda! Portugal is now on the list! I loved Stonehenge for the fascinating history, though it was definitely a drawback which took away from the experience that there were huge crowded and you couldn’t walk around. I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open for more authentic experiences which are a little more accessible – Almendres Cromlech sounds perfect! Can’t believe you can touch them. Just wow!

  14. says

    I have not seen any megalithic sites yet, and obviously, Stonehenge is the one I’m most familiar with. These are such interesting finds that I’ve never even heard of. Amazing to see how they’ve lasted throughout time.

  15. says

    I love Portugal, so this is going on my list for next time. It’s crazy to think there are remnants of human activity from 6000-7000 years ago. #wkendtravelinspiration

  16. says

    We have not visited any megalithic sites yet, nor have we visited Portugal but we are desperate to travel there. I’ve never heard of these megalithic sites, it’s great to learn about them, so thank you. I’ll have to add this to the many sites to visit in Portugal.

  17. says

    I saw such a place in Armenia, but it was not so impressive.
    I was twice in Portugal, but as I visited only Lisbon and Porto I haven’t heard of the place.

  18. says

    How interesting!! I’ve never even heard of this!! What a cool spot and will definitely have to check it out when I go back to Portugal! Thank you for sharing on #FlyAwayFriday!

  19. says

    Oh my! How awesome are those rocks?! I had never even heard of that spot – I’ll have to check it out when I’m in Portugal! Thanks for sharing and joining #FlyAwayFriday!

  20. says

    This is so strange.. the stones appear to be more natural and yet with some kind of method to their shapes as well as assembly. To be honest this is the first time I am reading about them

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