Carla Chambel | Gavião, a different Alentejo

We invited Portuguese artists to express themselves about their inner selves, about the inland territory of Portugal. Perhaps, we show little known regions, on a journey of discovery and sharing of places that they know better than anyone else and that have had a particular significance in their lives.

Carla Chambel, actress and dubber, has a special connection to Gavião, land of her parents and grandparents, where she keeps the best childhood experiences and memories.

"We all have our inland territory, a land that embraces us when we arrive and leaves us longing when we leave. [...] These are my magical places, in my inner self."



Gavião and its surrounding area is rich in natural landscapes. What could be a good suggestion for a visit in this area? 

Gavião is located in a privileged corner of the Alentejo. It borders on Beira Baixa and Ribatejo, so there are influences from these territories that are reflected in the landscape, the type of houses, the gastronomy and cultural habits. As the municipality's slogan says: "Gavião, a different Alentejo". The fields give way to hills, forested areas and lots of water.

First of all the way to get there. The Beira Baixa regional train offers an absolutely magnificent trip along the Tagus and we can get off at Belver Station. From there we can see the imperious castle, of the Hospitaller order, with a very special chapel that houses an altar with a panel of various saints, where a reliquary of each one would be kept. If you like festivals, there is always a medieval fair in June in Belver, which fits in perfectly with the town's layout. On this side you can still visit the Soap Museum (Museu do Sabão), located in the old primary school, the Blankets and Tapestries Museum (Museu das Mantas e Tapeçarias) and the Dolmen of Penedo Gordo (Anta do Penedo Gordo).

On the other side of the Tagus, the river beach of Alamal is an obligatory stop, it is part of a pedestrian trail that is accessible with a walkway along the Tagus that brings you from the Belver bridge. On the beach, besides swimming, you can see the flock of wild ducks that nest there and enjoy lunch or snacks at Carlos' restaurant. A walk around the old farm of Alamal will make you discover little treasures, such as the lizard fountain or perfect framings for the best photographs. If you want to enjoy the river, you can rent canoes or take a ride on the boat moored on the beach.



The flavours and aromas of this region are truly inspiring. What delicacies do we really have to taste? 
Once again, being a different Alentejo, here fish is king. In this case, freshwater fish. I would certainly recommend trying the grilled smoked dogfish or black bass, accompanied by roe bread soup. There is also the migas of cabbage with beans, which accompany the pork spare ribs. Regarding sweets I can't help but mention the cinnamon and honey cake from the bakery, right in the centre of the town of Gavião. The "broinhas de mel" (small honey cakes) are also famous. These and other delicacies can be enjoyed at the Gastronomy Fair (Feira de Gastronomia), which always takes place in the 3rd week of July.

From Belver Castle (Castelo de Belver) we have a wonderful view of the Tagus River and all the surrounding landscape. What other viewpoints or "special" places can we visit in this region?
Close to the castle, there is the Fonte Velha walkway, part of a pedestrian trail, which is adorned with several sculptures by contemporary authors. On part of this path, we can witness an ancient Roman road and glimpse the beauty of the Tagus valley.

Another place I love to visit is the Belver Dam. Its imposing six floodgates divide the river landscape, creating two completely different dimensions of the river. For those who like castles, you can travel to Amieira do Tejo and visit the land with Nisa influences.


Gavião's historical heritage is part of your inner self. What can you reveal about these good experiences?
The stories of my grandparents, of my parents, which enriched my understanding of the world and of those lives in the middle of the 20th century. French Invasions (from which probably my surname came), gold hidden in the walls, the grandparents' shop that served the whole village, the first radio, the first television, the wolves, the wisdom of remedies and prayers that cured evil. A thousand stories that delighted the cousins.

Memories of extra beds, which were put together on holidays or at Christmas, to fit everyone. Picking olives, almonds, walnuts, grapes and cherries.

Already in my adult life my parents bought an old farm, Quinta da Côca, which provided the best Christmases and the best gatherings for the whole family. I also did a Masterclass there, Chekov's Cherry Orchard (we had one), which offered the Gavião population a different cultural moment.

I also remember the reopening of the Cine-Theatre Francisco Ventura, a local playwright, with his play directed by João Mota and performed by the company Comuna Teatro de Pesquisa, just before the end of the 1990s.

So many, many things. To finish, I remember, with nostalgia, drinking the fresh water from the aluminium pitcher, the clay pitcher and listening to the naughty jokes of my great-aunt Catarina.


During the trip to Gavião, Carla Chambel was accompanied by the Portuguese instagrammer @morfeum, winner of the "Best Instagrammer" award in the last edition of the "Generator Insties".

"Viagens no Meu Interior” (“Travel to my Inner Self”) is an initiative of Visitportugal and the communication platform Gerador.

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