Towns and Villages

In the hinterland of the country, in the area of Pinhal, so called because it belongs to the largest forested area in Europe, Mação is a peaceful town which mingles characteristics of the Lower Beira (especially the landscape of hills and valleys) with thoe of the Ribatejo, especially in the architecture, with the predominance of whitewashed houses, with windows and doors surrounded by colour.

Special mention must be made of the 16th century Parish Church, and to the many archaeological remains of the presence of ancient peoples found in the environs, as in the case of the Iron Age Castle of the Caratão and the Roman bridge of the Coadouro.

In the environs, the thermal springs of the Ladeira de Envendos are recommended for various therapeutic purposes, and for hotter days the best suggestion is undoubtedly the riverside beach of the lagoon of the Ortiga Dam.

On summer weekends there is always a popular festival in one of the council`s villages, but the Exhibition Fair at the beginning of August, where one can enjoy the regional cuisine and handicrafts, and the Festa de Santa Maria (Festival of St Mary) in the first week of September, are the high points.

Among the gastronomic specialities, the lamprey risotto, cabbage with beans, sausages and smoked ham are outstanding, and, as for desserts, the bolos fintos (leavened cakes) and the Fofas de Mação - or cavacas - (a light, crisp kind of cake).

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