The Fresco Route is a journey with a difference that takes you around the religious heritage of Portel, Vidigueira, Alvito, Cuba, Viana do Alentejo, Vila Viçosa, Borba and Alandroal. Along the way you’ll discover one of the country’s best-kept secrets - the mural painting in the churches of the south of Portugal.
Gilt woodwork and azulejos are the most common features of church decoration in Portugal, especially in the north. Church decoration in the south tends to be simpler and more sober, with the same whitewashed walls that characterise the towns and villages of the Alentejo. The Fresco Route therefore comes as a surprise because beneath the whitewash, visitors can make out mural paintings that have been hidden for centuries, bringing a new perspective to these religious monuments.
The colours of the mural paintings reflect the colours of the Alentejo landscape, due to their use of natural pigments - cobalt blue, magenta and yellow ochre.
The paintings were intended to send the people an easily understandable message and were commissioned over the years by brotherhoods, friaries and small provincial parishes. Indeed, they were the most common form of decoration between the 15th and 19th centuries.
The Fresco Route’s monuments reveal paintings of great quality, but visitors can also see curious popular interpretations. If you look carefully, you will be surprised to see hands with six fingers, horses with human expressions and swords cut off in order to fit into the painting.
During the tour you can also taste Alentejo cuisine, giving you a different way to enjoy the local customs and traditions.
Take the Fresco Route and discover one of the best kept secrets in the history of Portuguese art.