Visiting Some of the Schist Villages of Central Portugal:
Spread across the Lousã and Açor mountain ranges you will find 27 Schist Villages. The name “Schist Village” comes from the rock/stone that is used to construct the houses in the villages, it is schist rock/stone and it is abundant in the region. In these villages schist rock is not only used for houses but also in the paving of their narrow winding streets. Schist rock:
“… mingle seamlessly into the colours of the natural landscape, and it is not always easy to distinguish them.” (Source here.)
These villages have been restored and rebuilt over the last number of years, a significant project undertaken by the locals, the municipalities and the Agency for the Tourist Development in Central Portugal:
“Little by little, schist houses, the trademark of the region, were restored using traditional techniques, tourist landmarks were improved and new commercial activity centres managed by local inhabitants were created. Rural tourism areas, extreme sports offers, restaurants invested in traditional food and local handicraft was recovered in order to turn Schist Villages into one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Portugal, revitalizing the region and bringing those who wish to be amazed by the natural charm of the Beirã region into the interior of the country.” (Source here).
An admirable and successful initiative that has breathed life back into these magnificent areas and opened our eyes to another great attraction in Central Portugal.
My Hike to Three Schist Villages:
While staying in Lousã, I created a looped hiking trail (GPX format) that would bring me to and through some of these villages and it was awesome. Visit Portugal’s description of the Schist villages is so accurate:
“… villages which are interconnected by their common history and culture and above all by the genuine manner in which the local people live. Sense the pulse of these lands, racing through the narrow streets and then venture forth through the surrounding sinuous paths, that wind their way through cork oaks, chestnuts, oaks and pine trees, providing excellent trails for walks and BTT rides.” (Source here).
Such a wonderful description of what you will find in these villages, even just walking through them, it is like stepping back in time or stepping into a secret world - they are so beautiful and so well restored and maintained.
Just a note to say that Covid-19 was a consideration when I visited these villages so while travel was permitted I kept my distance from the locals and wore a mask while in the villages. Some shops, cafes, restaurants etc. were open and some were very busy with fellow hikers so I also avoided these to minimise my risk.
The Schist Villages I Visited:
Chiqueiro was the first of the Schist villages that I passed through around 7.5 kilometres into my hike.
I was first greeted by some sunbathing locals:
Chiquerio is a small Schist village and I only passed one or two people as I walked through. Check out the schist stone work:
Lots of cats around the village:
Just so pretty:
Leaving the village behind and getting back onto the trail to the next Schist village:
The second Schist village I visited was Talasnal, about one kilometre of hiking from Chiqueiro.
Talasnal was the prettiest of the three Schist villages that I visited and it was definitely the busiest. It was lunch time when I arrived and many of the restaurants that were open for outdoor dining were very busy with people enjoying their lunch in the sunshine while taking in the view. I would love to return to Talasnal again in non-Covid times to comfortably appreciate it and take some time to enjoy a coffee.
As you will see from my photos, the weather was fantastic on the day I visited. Talasnal had amazing views, lots of hiking signs and markers and of course Schist stone throughout.
Schist buildings and paving:
I love the combination of wood with the schist rock:
Walking under vines in the village:
This building needs a little TLC but is so charming:
Plenty of trail markers and hiking signs throughout the village:
Following the signs to my next Schist village:
Beautiful buildings and views on the way:
In the photos below I am back on the trail properly, on the way from Talasnal to my third and final Schist village - Casal Novo.
Looking back to Talasnal:
And looking ahead to Casal Novo:
3. CASAL NOVO:
The Schist village of Casal Novo was again quite small and very quiet. It was about 1.4 kilometres from Talasnal. A steep slope led me up to the village.
I had its narrow streets to myself and was glad of the hiking markers that helped me navigate my way through and back onto the hiking trail. Of course I took some photos on my way through!
Taking in the view with the city of Lousã in the distance:
Up I went (sweating all the way in 30C) back to the road which I followed out of the town and back on the hiking trail:
Back to Lousã:
And just like that, my tour of the Schist villages was over and it was time to hike eight kilometres back to Lousã to where I had started earlier that morning.
If you hadn’t guessed already, I loved this hike so much. With the GPX on my watch and the trail markers it was easy to follow this trail and there was a good mix of ascending and descending. Be sure to check out at least one Schist village when you are next in the area. I imagine that staying overnight in one of the bigger villages would be magical - waking up in the morning to the mountain views and breathing in the fresh mountain air … I think I will have to give that a go myself!