Wool culture is inseparable from herding and the ancient knowledge of agro-pastoral societies. It is connected with the memory of great flocks crossing the mountains, guided by men who strolled through inhospitable territories and isolated mountain villages where people made a living out of ancient weaving traditions.
Since ancient times, the border regions of Central Portugal and a part of the Spanish Extremadura have been especially connected with Transhumance in the Iberian Peninsula. The unique characteristics of Serra da Estrela have always allowed it to be an important meeting point in the seasonal flock paths within the peninsular area and this advantageous situation enabled many mountain towns to specialise in herding related arts such as wool manufacturing which made constant progress throughout the years.
Wool routes were formed because of the paths shepherds and their flocks would follow and the places wool fabrics would be manufactured. These paths have been documented in national territory ever since the 13th century. Nowadays, it is possible to recreate precisely the route formed by countless paths which made the central region of the country one of the most developed when it comes to economic and social relations with other peninsular lands, even though this is considered one of the most isolated lands in the country.
Since medieval times, the Wool Route, a historical route full of traditions, knowledge and the culture of the inhabitants and interior lands of the Peninsula, has united Spanish and Portuguese mountains, shepherds and weavers, manufacturers and traders. This route recreates the paths followed by wool traders who, during the 16th century and early 20th century between Malpartida de Cáceres, where they would buy Spanish Merino wool, and Covilhã, where they sold it to wool factories.
The Mountain Villages organise in June the herding route that leads shepherds and their sheep flocks from the city of Seia to the highest village of Portugal, Sabugueiro, located at a height of 1080 meters.
The meeting point is the main square of Seia and the reunion with the shepherds and sheep happens very soon. Therefore, there will be a stop at the village of Póvoa Velha to eat a small meal before lunch. At the heart of a breathtaking natural landscape, the lunch happens in the hermitage of Senhora do Espinheiro to the sound of music.
In the late afternoon we reach the enchanting village of Sabugueiro, famous for its gigantic granitic blocks that were transported by the ice of the last glacial period, more than 10 thousand years ago. Locals say that "Sabugueiro is a village where people are born beneath the sheep". A legacy so deeply intertwined in everyday life. The perfect place to pay tribute to the unbreakable bond between shepherds and their happy sheep!
This year's edition takes place on July 9th.
Since immemorial times in May, the shepherds of the inland of Portugal go all the way up the mountain of Serra da Estrela looking for better pastures. The Great Transhumance Route is the recreation of these ancient herding routes through several activities, such as: walking tours, experiences and events. A tribute to the memory of these itineraries of shepherds and their sheep flocks, crossing the plateaus North of the Tagus River, Gardunha Mountain and Serra da Estrela.
The municipality of Castro Daire organises the so-called Last Transhumance Route, recreating the ancient route that shepherds and their sheep flocks followed from the foothill of Serra da Estrela to 1382 meter-high Serra do Montemuro, "the most unknown Portuguese mountain". This year the Last Transhumance Route takes place from June 24th to 26th. Discover the historical and natural heritage and a unique biodiversity within an absolutely dazzling natural scenery.
The City Hall of Fundão organises every year the amazing Chocalhos - Transhumance Festival. This festival evokes the passage of the mountain sheep flocks across the charming narrow streets of Alpedrinha village all the way to the woodlands of Idanha, in the region of Castelo Branco. These were the routes that the sheep flocks followed during the Summer months in Serra da Estrela. In Autumn they headed to Idanha-a-Nova and they would come back to Serra da Estrela as soon as Spring arrived. This year's edition will take place from September 16th to 18th in Alpedrinha village.
An absolutely once-in-a-lifetime experience that brings us closer to timeless traditions and to the generosity of Mother Nature!