© iStock / Estellez
© iStock / Estellez

Penha Garcia fortress & Naturtejo's 450 million-year-old snakes

3 minutes to read

Welcome to Penha Garcia, yet another marvel village of the Castelo Branco district! You can visit a castle built on the rocks, mills inserted in the mountain, and of course, enjoy the view of an extraordinary park: Naturtejo Geopark. Hiking here, you will find fossils of the first beings that inhabited Earth, but also some unique living animals, like black dorks or wild cats, together with a breathtaking landscape!

Penha Garcia fortress

Located on the top of a very steep rock, its strategic location made it very attractive to people for millennia. You can visit the remains left from Lusitanians and Romans, for instance. The streets of the village are very cute and almost entirely made of stone! However, a fortress cannot exist without its castle, and this one dates back to Medieval times. In the XIIth century, the Portuguese King D. Sancho wanted to defend Penha Garcia from both the Castilians and the Moorish. So, he built it on pure rocks, and one wonders which part is the castle and which is only rock... 

© Wikimedia Commons / IldaRobalo
© Wikimedia Commons / IldaRobalo

The legend behind

Penha Garcia is called after its ancient master, Garcia. According to the legend, he fell in love with Blanca, the daughter of the governor of Monsanto, a village located next to Penha Garcia. He kidnapped her, and they ran away together, but they were eventually caught. This kidnapping for love was certainly an issue at the time: something similar happened in Idanha-a-Velha as well! Garcia was punished as usually: death. However, Blanca begged her father for his life; she insisted so much that he sentenced him to lose just his left arm instead. To this day, the soul of the ancient master of Penha Garcia haunts the castle, keeping an eye on the Monsanto castle.  

© iStock / Francisco Solipa
© iStock / Francisco Solipa
Penha Garcia
Penha Garcia
6060 Penha Garcia, Portugal

Naturtejo Geopark

This park is huge, and it is a UNESCO Global Geopark. At Penha Garcia, you can admire the ichnofossils or, as the locals say, the “painted snakes.” These creatures used to live here some 490 million years ago. Their paths at the bottom of the ocean have been immortalized at this very spot. 

© iStock / Estellez
© iStock / Estellez

At this park, you can also visit the water mills of the Pônsul river. This river always carried a lot of gold, and this is why everybody was so interested in this area. It has been exploited since pre-roman times and up until the 50s. The mills look like a part of the natural landscape, and you can visit them. Be quiet: you may catch sight of one of the rare birds, such as black dorks or the mighty imperial Iberian eagle, that fly over this Geopark! 

© iStock / ManOnTheGo
© iStock / ManOnTheGo

Pego natural swimming pool

If you are here in summer, there is yet another “must”: the Pego natural swimming pool! Surrounded by old rocks, the place is peaceful, perfect for a break after all the visiting. Also, if it is the water you are after, you still have a beautiful dam just five minutes away. 

© iStock / CBrandao
© iStock / CBrandao

Of course, you are in Portugal, so never leave without trying some of the local delicacies, able to restore every calories lost during the day: chouriço, migas, and many more. Bom apetite! 

Geopark Naturtejo
Geopark Naturtejo
6060, 6060-322 Penha Garcia, Portugal

The author

Sara Rodriguez Romo

Sara Rodriguez Romo

I live between Salamanca, in Spain, and Marvão, in Portugal. A passionate traveller, I have visited over 30 countries in four continents. Currently I am doing a PhD in Greek Mythology and working with horses, doing rides in the nature.

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