The ‘Serra de Monchique’ rises up on the south western
tip of the European continent equidistant from the west and south
coast (20 km). It ascends 900 m, offering spectacular views over
the coastal plains to the Atlantic Ocean and the gulf of Cadiz.
Millions of years ago igneous rocks (syenites) broke through the
schists of which all the other hills of the Algarve are made. Today
freshwater springs (some hot, like in ‘Caldas de Monchique’),
clean air, and an environment free from light or noise pollution
characterise life on the mountain.
Temperature and precipitation are subtropical: Two rainy seasons
(March & April / October & November), a hot and dry summer
and unpredictable winter months. Nights are generally cool and when
the sun shines it is hot – even in December. For a current
weekly weather forecast refer to: http://www.ipma.pt/en/otempo/prev.10dias/?localID=8&cidadeID=138
In 1997 76 km² of the ‘Serra de Monchique’ region
were designated as an European ‘Natura 2000’ zone due
to its rich bio-diversity and habitats. It is home to more then
1.000 plant species, abundant bird life, butterflies, reptiles –
‘Bonelli’s Eagle’ (Hieraetus Fasciatus) and the
‘Iberian Lynx’ (Lynx Pardinus) are only two examples
of predators on the endangered species list.
Since the Bronze Age the ‘Serra’ has been inhabited,
both the Romans and Moors also left their mark. A visit to ‘Monchique’
is a winding journey from the busy coastal tourist destination into
the rural past of Portugal.