It really looks like a natural amphitheater, but Fornea it is, in fact, a strange geological phenomenon that resembles nothing less than a giant hole in the ground, which connects Chão das Pias and goes down to Alcaria.
As part of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park, in addition to the inherent beauty of its shape, Fórnea is also a place surrounded by a natural landscape that everyone should visit, at least once in their lifetime.
This soil depression is the result of erosion caused by millions of years and is currently surrounded by water courses, more specifically temporary streams affluent from the Lena River, the Cabrão River and the Ribeiro da Fórnea, which unite to form the River mayor.
The locals call it “Fôrnea” precisely because of its shape, which resembles an oven. Already know?
Unforgettable hiking trail: Fórnea to Alcaria
The best way to get to know this region is to pack your backpack with water and nutritious snacks, put on your sneakers, wear comfortable clothes and go on an adventure. O overland route it is, moreover, quite linear and easily accessible.
It extends over a kilometer and although it can be covered in about an hour, we advise you to take it slowly and calmly. All to be able to properly appreciate the charms offered by Mother Nature.
It is possible to see examples of fig trees, laurel trees, arbutus trees and even some zelha trees, a type of tree rare in Portugal. As far as animal life is concerned, it is also possible to observe several less common species for the city citizen, such as the bush lizard; the spotted kestrel, short-toed eagle, common chaffinch, greenfinch, white-tailed kite; and mammals such as the fox, weasel, badger and hedgehog.
And the calm that we advise you is precisely so that you can appreciate everything in time. Also because you will find places worthy of registration. We are talking about Ribeira da Fórnea and the Conglomerates, which are located on the riverbed. There is also no lack of a waterfall and the ex-libris from the place: Cova da Velha. It is a penetrable cavity located in Fórnea and that extends along this fault where lakes and siphons are found.
Points of interest near Fornea
But after exploring Fórnea, in the surroundings you will find other places to enjoy. Incidentally, this itinerary of ours includes obligatory stops in places that will not disappoint. Know what they are.
Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park
The Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park extends over around 35 thousand hectares and was created in 1979, covering more than two thirds of the limestone massif of Estremadura, which is, in fact, the largest limestone area in the country.
At a time when we are so looking forward to outdoor activities, walking through the park you will see many stone walls, known as “chouços”, which help to divide up properties or collect cattle. You will also be able to observe small houses in the fields, formerly used to protect shepherds from bad weather.
But it is, without a doubt, the feeling of freedom that will excite anyone, whether young or old.
Jurassic Viewpoint of Alqueidão da Serra
Jurassic? Does it suddenly feel like you’ve been transported into some Hollywood movie? No… Very close to Fórnea, and in the heart of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros Natural Park, at about 500 meters above sea level, the Jurassic Viewpoint of Alqueidão da Serra is an excellent point of observation over the region. From there you can see the Castle of Porto de Mós, the Monastery of Batalha or the Castle of Leiria.
The viewpoint is made up of limestone blocks that represent the main periods of the Jurassic period – exactly: they do. The monument is not there by chance: it is a work of art, created by humans.
It serves as a compliment to an era that brought so many natural resources to the municipality, such as rocks, rivers, caves, flora and fauna; and which greatly allowed the development of a series of industrial and tourist activities.
Santo António Caves and Alvados Caves
As with so many places of this type in Portugal, the Caves of Santo António were discovered by mere chance, in 1955. A young boy chased the fluttering of a bird, until it escaped through the vegetation. Stubbornly, the boy decided to continue this adventure until he discovered the cave, later explored by workers in a quarry.
The main room area is impressive and unique: it is full of multiple limestone formations of stalactites and stalagmites very close together, which gives a rare natural beauty to the place.
A small corridor gives access to the Alvados Caves, which were later discovered in 1964 by these same quarry workers, who noticed the echo made by the falling stones.
They thus found a wonderful natural world of hitherto unknown limestone formations that anyone can visit today.
Porto de Mós
Porto de Mós, or “port of millstones”, is traditionally defined by the development of rural milling technologies in watermills and, later, in windmills, with their usual millstones. An element that represents the village itself.
Camões called it “the strong village”, perhaps because it was a town endowed with a significant organization at an administrative and institutional level, throughout the 13th and 14th centuries.
Currently, the village brings us an immense source of historical curiosities, talented craftsmen, markets, pilgrimages, pieces of Nature and, above all, many charms, which are really worth knowing.
Porto de Mos Castle
O Castle of Porto de Mós is one of the best examples of military and residential architecture, in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. But what stands out the most is its sovereign and elevated location.
There it is, isolated 148 meters above sea level, as if protecting the village of Porto de Mós and from where you can see the Lena valley and the Candeeiros mountain range.
A tour of Fórnea and its surroundings seems to be the perfect plan to enjoy the outdoors, safely and away from the routine of everyday life.