Visiting Alcacer do Sal! Do you know Alcácer do Sal? Do you really know Alcácer do Sal? To pass by the bridge by car and see in the distance the big house topped by the great figure of the castle is not to know this village.
Make no mistake. Probably you think you know this place but to really know it is necessary to go there and visit on foot this old town (recently promoted to the city). Alcácer do Sal is still a very traditional village, with a medieval silhouette that needs to be discovered on foot. There we can still find narrow alleys that are what remains of the medieval town.
Alcácer do Sal passed the city in 1997 and is today one of the smallest cities in the country. The passage from town to town was due to the need to obtain European funds (inaccessible to places with town status).
Visiting Alcacer do Sal – MAP OF ALCÁCER
Visiting Alcacer do Sal – VIRTUAL TRAVEL
CONCISE HISTORY OF Alcácer do Sal
Alcácer do Sal, by the Sado River, was an important urban and military center of the peninsular Islamic territory. Its name derives from the name “Al-kasser” which, in Arabic, means castle.
During the Roman occupation, Alcácer was an important center of Salinas (it was called Salácia) and even had its own currency.
Its river, the Sado, is born near Ourique and flows into the Atlantic near Setúbal. Its estuary is very rich in rice paddies and salt pans. The river is the main figure of Alcácer and for more than 1 millennium it functioned as the entrance road to the Alentejo. This allowed the settlement of Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians. The river was the road that allowed the flow of agricultural products and minerals from Alentejo to… Rome! And later it also allowed the flow of bread to Lisbon.
During the occupation of the Moors, the town grew with the establishment of shipyards. Even after the reconquest, the Muslims continued to live in Alcácer working in ceramics, carpentry, and basketwork. They settled in the district of the castle’s spring and were excellent farmers and craftsmen. The Alentejo’s gastronomy – its refined spices – still have influences that go back to the time of the Muslims.
The quarter of the “Mouraria” was the first quarter outside the walls and the beginning of the development of the lower part and riverside of the village. In the first charter of the village during the reign of Dom Afonso Henriques, it is defined how Christians, Jews, and Muslims would have to live together.
The name of Alcácer do Sal is due to the immense salt marshes that exist in the area and that, as everyone knows, played a very important role in food conservation.
Dom Afonso Henriques tried to conquer (without success) Alcácer do Sal twice. But it was his grandson, Dom Afonso II who conquered the city in 1217. The first “Portuguese” construction was made in the 13th century, the church of Santa Maria do Castelo.
Visiting Alcacer do Sal – WHAT I CAN’T-MISS
Church of Santiago: Mother church of the (now) city, dates back to the XVIII century and has an austere aspect. Its interior is covered with historic tile panels. In the month of October 1500, the marriage of Dom Manuel with the infanta D. Maria was celebrated in this church. Pedro Nunes, the leading cosmographer of the kingdom of Portugal and figurehead of his time, was born in 1502 in Alcácer.
The castle: Built in the 12th century on top of a hill, it still resists today despite being built in Taipa (it is one of the very few specimens in taipa that has resisted the passage of time). After the reconquest, Don Afonso II donates Alcácer to Santiago’s order. In 1573 the convent of our lady of Aracaeli was founded here. Between 1990 and 1998 a reconversion work is done in a pousada. During the work, an ancient Roman forum was discovered.
Convent Church: This convent was of Poor Clare nuns, between 1573 and 1834 (extinction of religious orders).
Museum inside the inn: On the lower floor of the inn, the current archaeological museum displays 27 centuries of Alcácer do Sal’s history.
Chapel of the eleven thousand virgins: Designed in 1550 by architect António Rodrigues
Visiting Alcacer do Sal – WHEN TO VISIT
Alcácer do Sal is, in a straight line, approximately 30 kilometers from the coast. This distance is enough for the city to suffer some days of extreme heat in summer (and also some days of extreme cold in winter). For this reason, and because to get to know Alcácer you have to walk along its streets and alleys, we suggest that you visit it at any time of the year except the months of July and August (to prevent the extreme heat that some summer days are felt).
Visiting Alcacer do Sal – WHERE CAN I GET THE BEST VIEWS FROM?
Next to the church of Santa Maria do Castelo (the first Christian church to be built in Alcácer do Sal) there is a magnificent life over the Sado river and the riverside area of the city.
I WANT TO STAY IN THE MOST FANTASTIC PLACES OF ALCÁCER DO SAL. WHICH HOTEL SHOULD I CHOOSE?
If your finances breathe health, we recommend the following accommodations:
- Alentejo’s nest
- Hotel da Barrosinha
- Alcácer do Sal Castle Inn
I WANT TO STAY FOR A GOOD PRICE AND IN A GOOD AREA. WHAT TO CHOOSE?
It is possible to find economical solutions, of very reasonable quality and with good location in Alcácer. Here are three balanced (but not luxurious) suggestions.
- Hotel a cegonha
- Hotel Salatia
I WANT TO FEEL THE SOUL OF THE PLACE. WHAT SHOULD I EXPERIENCE?
To know Alcácer implies spending some time in Alcácer. It means parking your car, dropping your mobile phone and walking through the streets and alleys of the old medieval village. To feel the place, start by reading a little about the place. Do some research so that you can look and admire the monuments with other eyes and understand what represents or represented each monument of the city. Spend a night here, have lunch and dinner in traditional restaurants, walk around the town, observe and talk to the locals.
I like to enjoy the night and go out for a drink. Where should I go when visiting alcácer do sal?
Alcácer is not, of course, the perfect place for those who like to go out at night. Still, there are some coffee shops and bars you can enjoy for a drink. Here’s an example: THE BAR OF THE RUTH. Address: Rua Comandante João Bico
7580-106 Alcácer do Sal
WHAT TO EAT
Here are our gastronomic recommendations:
- Pork with Migas
- Razor Rice
- Veal stew
- Feijoada de choco
March / April – Easter Athletics Grand Prix
June: Tourism and Economic Activities Fair
August: Torrão Fair
October: Feira Nova
Biannual: Torrão Quinhentista
December: Book Fair
OLD PHOTOGRAPHS OF ALCACER DO SAL
POPULATION AND DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS
2011 – Alcácer do Sal has 13,046 inhabitants. These numbers represent a negative variation of 8.69% (14,287 inhabitants – 2001 Census).
The gross birth rate in the municipality of Alcácer do Sal is 6.4 for each set of one thousand inhabitants (2011), while the gross mortality rate is 12.9.
Qualifications: The illiteracy rate fell from 20.3% (2001) to 13.1% in 2011. In 2011 there were 2,029 people in Alcácer do Sal without schooling. 4,450 had the first cycle of basic education and 1,858 had completed secondary education. 1,061 people had completed a higher education course.
Famous personalities born in Alcácer do Sal
PEDRO NUNES – MATHEMATICIAN AND COSMOGRAPHER
Pedro Nunes was born in Alcácer do Sal in 1502. He was an important mathematician who held the prestigious position of chief cosmographer at a time when the discoveries were of enormous importance for Portugal. Pedro Nunes was one of the great scientific references of his time. He contributed to the development of navigation and cartography. He invented several measuring instruments such as the “nautical ring”, the “shadow instrument” and the “nónio”.