Aire and Candeeiros mountains (the Nature Park occupies 38.900 ha), grey and devoid of vegetation, constitute an imposing barrier separating the coast from the interior and represent the most important limestone deposits found in Portugal.
Its dryness, accentuated by the lack of superficial water courses draws a landscape in vigorous strokes made up of fault lines, cliffs and rocky outcrops. The vegetation has adapted to the lack of water being highlighted the riparian communities and aromatic and medicinal plants. The olive tree is the dominant element of the non-spontaneous vegetation.
In the caves, important bat populations are present - symbol of the Park - and the red-billed crow, which as adopted cave habits here, is highlighted in the existing bird fauna. Loose stone walls divide the landscape and small depressions preserve the scarce red soil, the "terra rossa".
The salt lakes of Fonte da Bica are a unique case in Portugal.
Notable presence of the rock extraction industry that along with the textile industry, tanneries and livestock helped to establish a population that could not be justified by the inhospitable terrain.
Instituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas, I.P. (ICNF, I.P.)
Lisbon and Tagus Valley
Porto de Mós
Identification and Access
- Leiria, head to Porto de Mós by the A19/IC2, and after the Batalha exit enter the IC9 and head to Ourém, and exit in the direction of Porto de Mós through the N243;
- Rio Maior, follow the Main Street towards the Salinas de Fonte da Bica; Coming from Santarém, through A1 heading to Porto, exit at intersection 7 to Alcalena - N243. In Alcalena follow the Indications to “Olhos d´Água do Alviela/Nascente do Alviela/Centro Ciência Viva do Alviela/Carsoscópio” or head North through N362, entering the Natural Park that way.
In a Protected Area which uses the bat as its symbol it would be wrong not to visit the Chiropterium in Alviela's Ciência Viva Centre. See the Minde poldje in the summer and in winter and understand how, in lime stone areas, the biggest treasure, water, may be hidden deep underground. Feel like a speleologist while visiting the Algar do Pena. Find the salt of the land in the salinas of Fonte da Bica in Rio Maior.
To observe the fauna leave early in the morning or a bit before dusk. Bring binoculars and a camera, if you have them.
Always pay attention to the weather forecast and avoid performing activities in days of rain, thunderstorm or fog. Avoid going out by yourself, but, if you do, inform an acquaintance or a local entity of your departure and return. Use simple and comfortable clothes. Make outerwear, food, water, sunscreen and/or a raincoat available. You can also carry a cellphone, lantern and lighter (do not start a fire and don't dispose of cigarette butts incorrectly).
Take special precautions when walking in moist and rocky areas, to avoid falling and do not act in a way that might endanger yourself or others. Take note that, this being a limestone area, there are cavities in some places, which sometimes are very deep and not too visible, therefore you should not stray off the existing trails and paths.
In case of an accident or unforeseen event contact the emergency service 112.
Supports in place
The Park has directional and informative signage throughout all of its area.
Statutes of Conservation
PTCON0015 Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (Aire and Candeeiros Mountains)
RAMSAR site - "Polje de Mira-Minde e Nascentes Associadas"
Pegadas de Dinossáurios de Ourém/Torres Novas Nature Monument (dinossaurs footprints)
The Porto de Mos Castle has architectural military influences, Gothic and Renaissance, having two turrets whose originality lies in the fact of being ornamented by pyramidal domes, with green ceramic. (Learn more).
In Ourém, is to highlight its medieval castle, overlooking the valley of the Ribeira de Seiça.
What you can do
1. Bring a magnifying glass and, walking with care not to step on small wild orchids sprouting of limestone, enjoy these little flowers that sometimes mimic insects.
1. Escape from the burning sun and go down to the Earth interior, in Algar do Pena and, from the platform, enjoy the magnificent cave.
2. Enjoy Alviela river beach.
3. Even when the sun burns, Alviela spring (Olho de Água) continues to sprout freshness. Make there a picnic.
4. The sun evaporates the water originating the appreciated Rio Mar salt. Visit the Salterns and buy the famous salt.
1. With cooler weather, visit Alvados depression, with its vertical drop of 300 meters, and note the oak trees autumnal colors.
2. To better understand this landscape and its winged inhabitants, including bats, visit the Living Science Centre – Carsoscópio (Centro de Ciência Viva – Carsoscópio).
1. It's time to appreciate the the Polje of Minde filled with water.
Best Season: All year long