PORTUGAL: Cromlech Almendres charade
Anna van Densky. ALENTEJO The elegant space for breakfast at Vitoria Stone Hotel strikes with its contemporary stylish design, but paradoxically it is the reference starting point for a journey to the most ancient and mysterious monument of Alentejo region, and entire Iberian Peninsula.
While enjoying coffee and the view on Evora city from the top floor a guest contemplates on the touch of soft shades of grey on all elements of design, created by the internationally renowned artist Nini Andrade Silva, who made the stone present in the entire hotel as a “tribute to important places in this unique region” of Alentejo.
Inspired by the beauty of the stone, and mesmerised by Almendres Cromlech, the artist chooses the megaliths for the theme of a fantasy, carving furniture in a shape of rocks, and pebbles. But what about the real megaliths? Who and how carved them from a rock?..
The megaliths in the vicinity of Evora city – the famous Cromlech of Almendres continue to startle, inspire and puzzle. The messages from the past, they belong to history mysteries challenging our perception of civilisation and ourselves: who, how, why? Who and how carved these huge rocks into the shape of the sea pebbles? Who brought them there and why?.. How come that those, who created it, and supposedly lived in the caves, hunting with arrows and wearing skins, how come they had such an excellence in construction skills?..
Placed in two lines, stones organise an oval shape, supposedly created for observation of stars. The archeologist presume the structure dates back to the 6th millennium BC, but were rediscovered ‘recently’, in 1966, by Henrique Leonor Pina, who carried out the field archeological work. Since then, the megaliths strike imagination, attracting flows of pilgrims, fascinated by the secrets rocks keep. Are they elements of ancient astronomical observatories? Where from the ‘Stone Age people’ got their knowledge of stars? Challenging us, and nourishing hypothesis about extraterrestrials, the Celtic druids worshiping their gods, and the secret knowledge of the prehistoric tribes of Lusitanians living there long before Roman conquest, the megaliths are also giant magnets, attracting curious minds.
The “megalithic universe of Évora” is genuinely tourist friendly – it is still non-commercialised as many other sites, surrounded by walls, fences, and watched by guardians, no CCTV cameras either:) There are no tickets and ropes, protecting stones from people – thus the experience stays direct and undisturbed.
Partially covered by long shadows of the cork oak, some of the megaliths startle with their unique surface design created by nature. Spattered with the blue moss, they look like artefacts, inserted into modern landscape installation.
However a few rings on the stones are considered to be part of the original design, left by the mysterious carvers, serving as their encrypted message. Some come from faraway to get a thrill of touching mystery…