© Vasco Neves
AND LANDSCAPES THAT GO ON FOREVER
One of the great assets of the municipality of Serpa is its landscape. Some places are especially interesting for observation and interpretation, such as the peaks and elevations of the Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe and Nossa Senhora das Pazes chapels. Come and get to know them and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere offered by these chapels and their surrounding landscapes.
ERMIDA DE Nª SR.ª DE GUADALUPE
This Chapel, devoted to the municipality’s patron saint, is 1km from the city, on the top of the São Gens mountain, a peak locally known as "altinho". For the most direct access, take the Estrada Nacional 260 road (heading for Spain) and turn right at the junction, towards the Pousada (Hostel), also located on that peak.
The worship of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) is very old in the region and was probably introduced in the 6th century by an archbishop from Seville. In Serpa, popular devotion began in the 14th century.
The chapel was built in the 16th century and stands out for the simplicity and harmony of its shapes, for the whiteness of its whitewashed walls and for the roofing in half round tiles and ceramic tiles. In its interior we find a pretty baptismal font and a simple altar of gilded wood carving.
© Vasco Neves
THE SCENERY FROM THIS LOCATION IS SIMPLY SUPERB
On clear days, with no clouds in the sky, it is possible to identify the neighbouring municipalities, such is its amplitude. The immense view and the presence of the chapel give the place a quiet and serene atmosphere that makes it ideal to end a day spent outdoors. There is also a picnic area where you can have a snack and enjoy the extraordinary sunset as the sun fades into the vast plain.
The procession in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe is held on Easter Sunday; from this chapel the image is carried down to the São Salvador Church, in the centre of the city. This is one of the festivities’ highlights, along with the Historical-Ethnographic Parade, in which hundreds of participants wear local costumes and simulate ancient habits and customs, showing the spectators of this parade the best of the local traditions.
© Vasco Neves
ERMIDA DE Nª SR.ª DAS PAZES
It would be unthinkable to speak of panoramic churches without mentioning the Nossa Senhora das Pazes (Our Lady of Peace) chapel. It is located in the parish of Vila Verde de Ficalho; the best way to get there is to leave via the square of the Parish Council, entering the Avenida das Forças Armadas and turning right soon after at Travessa do Barranco. Continue along the tar road, headed south, and after three kilometres you’ll find the small church.
The small and charming church, a mixture of vernacular features with Manueline and Baroque elements, marks one of the highest points of this area and gives the place a sacred aspect. The surroundings here are simply breathtaking, a gently undulating plain, with the small, simple white chapel surrounded by leafy holm oaks, in what is perhaps the municipality’s largest area of holm oak montado.
© Manuela Sousa
This place has a special atmosphere that lives up to the name of the church. Its construction has been the object of several interpretations. For some, it is related to the "Legend of Our Lady of Peace": at the time of the war between Spain and Portugal (17th century), there was a great battle in Ficalho during which the Saint appeared on the top of a holm oak, causing the war to end; in the place of the apparition was built the chapel of Our Lady of Peace, which became the local patron saint. Others argue that it was built before that, in the reign of King João III (16th century), as a symbol of unity between the people of Ficalho and Rosal de la Frontera.
In the 19th century, the Order of Avis transferred these lands to the Marquis of Ficalho, who became the proprietor of this borderland area of our country. But access to the small temple remained open to all who seek it. The highlight of each year is the first weekend after Easter, the weekend of the feast and pilgrimage. In the square next to the chapel the populations from both sides of the border join to fraternize and reinforce the neighbourhood bonds, in the communion of the procession, the food, the music and the dance.
It is ideal for a walk or a bicycle ride, from the village up to the church. Once there, you can enjoy a pleasant picnic, taking shelter in the shade of one of the leafy holm-oaks.
In the leisure area adjacent to the chapel you’ll find tables and benches that you can use for a meal and Vila Verde de Ficalho offers plenty of good local produce to sample.
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