The best independent guide to Evora
The Alentejo region contains numerous Neolithic stone formations and the finest is the Almendres Cromlech (Cromeleque dos Almendres). The 95 standing stones of the Almendres Cromlech form two large stone circles and were once part of a ceremonial site dedicated to a celestial religion.
The entire monument was constructed over a very long period, with the first stones laid in 6,000bc, and was in continual use until 3,000bc. Many of the stones have ancient patterns and diagrams of unknown meanings, which add to the mystery of the site. The stone circles of the Almendres Cromlech are an interesting excursion from Evora and highly recommended for those visitors with a rental car.
Related articles: Introduction to Evora
The Almendres Cromlech near Evora
The standing stones of the Almendres Cromlech are regarded as the finest example of Neolithic structures that remain on the Iberian Peninsula. Thankfully, the local government has not cordoned or fenced off the stones and visitors are free to wander around the entire site and even touch the stones. This relaxed approach extends to the management of the site, there is no entrance fee and the stones are open to visit at any time.
The stone circles attract few visitors, partially due to the poor public transport connecting the location: there are no bus routes and taxis are expensive.
The Almendres Cromlech rings are an arrangement of 95 granite menhir stones which form two rings: a circular ring to the east, and a larger oval ring to the west. The smaller ring to the east contains the oldest stones and was constructed during the early Neolithic (6,000bc) era. The larger oval ring was built during the middle Neolithic (approximately 5,000bc).
In the third stage of use, around 3,000bc, many of the stones were repositioned to align with the moon, the sun and the stars. It is predicted that the site was used as an important religious site by a religion that had possessed an in-depth understanding of celestial motions and star alignments. Interestingly, all of the ring formations are aligned with the largest of the granite standing stones.
The Almendres Cromlech standing stones
Over the centuries, many of the stones had toppled over, so during the 1960s a major reconstruction program was undertaken to replace the stones. Not all of the 95 Menhirs (standing stones) are identical: some have carved images, while others have deliberately smoothed surfaces.
Interesting and unique stones of the Almendres Cromlech include:
Stone 48: Features a small figure holding a staff or crosier.
Stone 57: Was purposely flattened on one side and displays a series of thirteen images representing objects of ancient social prestige.
Stone 56: Has the representation of a human face and is considered as a menhir statue, possibly of a god or deity.
Stone 76: Has an anthropomorphic figure with similarities to that of stone 56.
Stone 64: This stone is located near the centre of the main ring and displays heavy engraved patterns.
Stone 58: Is the primary stone and indicates a connection with the stars, as the representation includes three solar disc and lines indicating sunrays.
The Almendres Cromlech are to the east of Evora just off the main N114 which connects Evora to Montemor-o-Novo. The total distance from the edge of Evora to the historic site is 16km (10miles) and takes approximately 25minutes. To reach the ancient stone monuments a car is required as public transport is almost non-existent.
The stone rings of the Almendres Cromlech outside Evora
To reach the Almendres Cromlech head east out of Evora along the N114. After approximately 8km there is a left junction leading to the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalup; this is the only major left junction on the N114 for miles and turns onto the CM1075, which is called the Rua Principal. After 3 km the road leads into the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalup, in the centre of the village take the right turn, which leads to the village of Almendres. The stone circles of Almendres Cromlech are at the end of this road and are 4.5km from the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalup or 7.5mh from the N114.
For those visitors who wish are travelling along national highway A6 (IP6) to the Almendres Cromlech need to take junction 5 off the highway. The Almendres Cromlech are 10km from junction 5. The route follows the N114 for 1.2km towards Evora then turns right towards the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalup. The final directions are the same as above.