Although Stonehenge is probably the most famous of the world’s megalithic structures, Portugal is home to several megalithic sites that are older, free to visit, less crowded, and allow visitors to walk through the grounds.
We visited two of these sites, both in close proximity to each other, just outside of Evora in the Alentejo region of eastern Portugal.
Alentejo region is well known for grape growing, winemaking, and cork. In addition to the sites, which were our destination, we are fascinated by the surrounding cork tree forest.
Aside from the ancient history, we learned a few new terms, all of which were used in the descriptions of what we saw, and knowing the definition of monolithic, megalithic and a few similar terms proved helpful.
- Monolith: a single large stone block
- Megalith: a large stone used to construct a monument or structure, either alone or with other stones without mortar.
- Dolmen: a prehistoric tomb
- Cromlech: a prehistoric circle of standing stones often surrounding a mound or dolmen.
- Menhir: a tall stone standing upright, either alone or in a group.
Three main stops while looking for the megalithic sites in Portugal
- Almendres Cromlech – Cromeleque dos Almendres – (a megalithic site in Portugal)
- Almendres Menhir (a Monolithic Site in Portugal)
- Cork tree forest
Almendres Cromlech (a megalithic site in Portugal)
Almendres Cromlech (Cromeleque dos Almendres) is the larger of the two Portugal megalithic sites we visited. Here, more than 90 huge remaining stones form two concentric rings.
Sometimes it is referred to as “Stonehenge Portugal” or “Portuguese Stonehenge”.
They were strategically placed here from 4000-5000 BC making them about 2,000 years older than Stonehenge.
Carvings can be seen on some of these stone formations in Portugal, although they are difficult to spot due to erosion.
Visiting here is quite surreal. To our surprise, there are no fences. As a result, we are free to stand amongst nearly 100 monoliths. Unlike many of the crowded European venues we visited, we were alone here.
The true purpose of these stone circles is unknown. However, around 3000BC many of the stones were moved. It is believed this was to better align with the stars, moon, and sun.
Almendres Menhir (a monolithic site in Portugal)
Nearby, we visited Almendres Menhir, a single monolith that stands four metres (13 feet) tall.
Although about a kilometre away, it aligns with Almendres Cromlech on the winter solstice sunrise.
Cork trees in Portugal
Driving through the Alentejo region of eastern Portugal, we passed hundreds of cork trees lining the road. To us, this was new and exciting as I had no idea that cork grows on trees. Portugal and Spain are home to over half of the world’s cork forests.
The images below are:
- Jeff points at the spot separating the portion of the tree with cork from that which has already been removed.
- Cork Trees in Almendres near the city of Evora in Alentejo in Portugal.
- The cork is left to weather for six months after being stripped from the trees. This pile of cork oak bark is ready for processing in Portugal.
Getting to these megalithic sites in Portugal
Unfortunately, there was no public transportation to these intriguing stone formations in Portugal. The options for getting there are either to drive yourself or take a tour from Evora or Lisbon.
Driving to these Portugal megaliths
Located about 18km east of Evora, both megalithic monuments are easy to find following the signage. There is no physical address but driving directions from Evora are simple.
Directions from Evora to the megalithic sites: 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.
Megalithic tours from Evora
If you don’t want to rent a car, a tour is your best option to see these Evora monoliths. We believe these are the best options:
Cork Forest and Megalithic Temples around Evora: A small group tour that is perfect for people who want a deeper understanding of the geography, culture, and history of the region. This tour visits 3 fascinating megalithic sites and explores the cork forest. Reserve your cork forest & megalithic temples tour from Evora
Megalithic tours from Lisbon
Évora and Megaliths Full-Day Tour from Lisbon: Packing a lot into a day, this highly-rated tour is ideal for Lisbon-based travellers who want to discover Evora and the megaliths, but have limited time. Starting and ending at your Lisbon hotel, you will visit both the Almendres Cromlech and a megalithic dolmen. Plus, in Evora, you will see the Roman Temple of Diana, the cathedral, and the chapel of bones. Reserve your tour from Lisbon
Evora Megalithic Private Tour from Lisbon: This is the perfect tour for those fascinated by the megalithic sites, but have limited time. The private tour is loaded with archaeological and historical information. You will visit four megalithic /archaeological sites and have a walking tour through the key sites of Evora. Note: The final price is per tour, not per person. Reserve a private megalithic tour from Lisbon
More on these megaliths in Portugal
- Almendres Cromlech is the Iberian Peninsula’s largest megalithic monument, as well as being one of the world’s oldest.
- Both Almendres Menhir and Almendres Cromlech are always open and free to visit.
- Although built in the early and mid neolithic periods, Almendres Cromlech wasn’t discovered again until 1964.
- There are more than 10 megalithic sites in Evora district. They were built here as it is where Portugal’s most important rivers (Tagus, Sado, and Guadian) converge.
Read Next: 30 free things to do in Evora Portugal
Megalithic sites around the world
The oldest megalithic sites discovered to date 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).
From the Neolithic period, the oldest megalithic sites are Atlit Yam in Israel (7000BC), followed by 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.
We have visited Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge in England.
Save on your trip with these resources
We use these aggregator companies to save time and money. They do the work for us by providing a list of options, prices, and reviews for anywhere we are travelling worldwide. Plus, we have personally had positive customer service experiences with all of them:
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Hotels: we use Booking.com as they consistently return the best rates and their reviews are from actual guests. However, for self-contained lodging, use VRBO
- Cars: we use RentalCars to find the best deals and dealer ratings.
- Private guides: we often hire private guides from Tours by Locals
- Travel Insurance: we start at InsureMyTrip as they are the best option to compare plans and find the right coverage for you.
Before you book the rest of your trip: Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media including Pinterest:
Maria Souza Ferreira
DO NOT TOUCH these very precious megalithic monuments, Please. Touching with our hands which have creams, sanitizer etc etc inhibits the growth of natural lichens and other microscopic vegetation and will cause the stone to deteriorate very rapidly.
Thanks Maria, great reminder.
(In the photo above, my daughter is pointing, not touching.)
These sorts of things are so intriguing.
You really do get to the most interesting places. I have not had the chance to see stones like these anywhere.
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
amazing. And how wonderful that you can walk among them and really explore, unlike Stonehenge, new grange and so on. What a find!
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!
It really surprises me how little know this place is, considering how cool it is.
Fascinating place.Love the views and photos from this site…
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!
Ava @ My Meena Life
I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the tourist scene at Stonehenge – it’s great to know there are other options like this one. Thanks for sharing!
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.
We have not yet been to Armenia.
I love how you can get right up to them. One thing you can’t do at Stonehenge! I hope to go visit these one day
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.
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.
It’s one of those off the beaten path places that someone needs to tell you about.
Danielle - GeekGirlGoes
I’ve always wanted to visit somewhere like Stonehenge – and this place looks awesome! I had no idea there were such old sites like this across the world!
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.
I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m curious- what was the reason they were built here? What purpose did they serve?
Yes, we are all curious. History is amazing, but doesn’t tell us everything.
Gosh I’ve been to Portugal many times and to Evora twice and never knew this existed. I HAVE been to foz coa though – did you manage to see that?
I added the basic driving directions, so next time in Evora be sure to check it out. We didn’t see Foz coa.
Places like this are so intriguing. We can’t help but wonder what the original purpose was, and how they managed to accomplish the feats. Not sure we’ll ever know, but it’s always fun to speculate…and visit!
Agree. I would love to know how they built them, and of course why.
I haven’t heard of these before, but am quite interested and would love to visit. It looks truly fascinating so will save for our future travel plans.
I’ve wanted to visit Stone Henge for quite a few years but this is really cool, somewhere that rivals that place 🙂
Saved this post for our upcoming trip to Portugal next spring. Something unique to add to the plan! Thanks for sharing. Linda
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!
Trekking with Becky
I’ve been to Stonehenge, but I’ve never heard of these places. I remember wishing that I could go within the enclosure. Thanks for putting these ancient sites on the radar for me. 😀
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.
Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields
Haha – today we visited what may be the world’s newest megalithic site. Stonehenge in Esperence, Western Australia. It was fantastic. A complete full sized replica of the original. It did make me wonder why people build these things though.
We are looking at heading to Western Australia late in the year. Maybe we will see this one too.
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.
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.
Birgit / Groove Is In The Heart
Wow! What a great find. I never knew about these. I would love to experience it for myself one day. Glad I discovered your blog 😀
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 🙂
Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow
Wow, it’s hard to comprehend something so old, isn’t it? What an incredible experience it must be to stand alone with some of those monoliths. My mind would be racing though, so many questions!
How fascinating! I love visiting the lesser know places. This would be awesome to visit!
Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld
Wow, what a fascinating place, with so much history behind it 🙂 A great find!
Very interesting, I didn’t know about these sites. They may be older, but they don’t look as impressive as Stonehenge.
Part of that lack of impressive look is that I couldn’t get an aerial photo. There are 93 monoliths in the circle.
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.
Wow, what a fascinating place to visit! Your photos are beautiful.
Those are awesome! I did not know about these , now I want to see them!
Funny…something popped up in my news feed about this site earlier today. Glad to learn more about the history.
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.
I had no idea about these. Very cool. You and your family have had so many wonderful adventures.
Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺
I love places like this, but people do laugh at me. I love to imagine what life was back in those ancient times. Love the photos.
It’s so nice to learn about something so great that is easily over looked by bigger more touristy destinations!
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.
Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
I visited Evora but we didn’t go to this site:(
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
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
Suze - Luxury Columnist
These sites look really impressive, I hadn’t heard of them but I love visiting anywhere so historic. We often drive past Stonehenge on the way to see family and I never get tired of it
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.
I would love to get to Capadoccia one day. A megalithic city would be amazing.
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.