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Hiking Trail from Ega to Arrifana (Condeixa-a-Nova)
The village of Ega has a long and rich history to tell. Their lands were donated to the Knights Templar in 1145, with the intention of people and halt the progress of the Moors to the north. With the extinction of the Temple Order, the Order of Christ settled in the region, promoting prosperity and peace, making several transformations over the centuries, leaving their mark also in local buildings.
There are so many traces of this rich history, such as the pillory currently situated on National Highway 342 (EN342), the Church Manueline style since its reconstruction in 1520, and the Palace of the Commanders, also known by “Paço da Ega” which stands on the hilltop on arrival at the village. When D. Teresa give it to the Templars, the Palace have assumed defensive functions against the offensive of the Moors, and later formed the headquarters of the Order of Christ, with the extinction of the Temple Order already said previously.
It is interesting to observe even today many traces that show the different times of this Public Interest Building. Talk to Teresa Almeida Meneses, co-responsible for the “Paço da Ega”, it’s like opening a book or take a trip backwards in time several centuries. So many are the stories that flow in a sharing conversation. In “Paço da Ega” I meet, among other things of interest, an impressive Manueline window, tombstones with Roman inscriptions that testify tributes to deceased loved ones and still many other stories that remain unknown as is the case of the two “faces” on the walls, of the inner courtyard.
This is the place where I begging this hiking where I have the strong feeling of being inside a medieval castle. Go down the hill towards the center of the village of Ega. Facing the S. Martinho square, an ample space reclassified in 2004, against the Church in the Manueline style. I go down the wide the sidewalk next to the pools and contour it, sending me to the “Rua Fonte da Ega”. Take the direction of “Rua Casal da Cruz de Baixo”, which connects the Ega the village of Arrifana, pass the tunnel under the A1 highway and straight ahead at the end of 1300 meters, turn left on a small track in dirt, even before a new tunnel that passes under the EN1.
This trail leads me to this road with a lots of traffic and it is with great care and attention that go through to enter the access road to the village of Arrifana. Should have opted for the safer option witch would be to continue under the tunnel of the EN1 and quietly find the main street of the village on the other side.
The building of the Primary School gathering lots of information about the existing karst in this region. I got some information beforehand and I could confirm locally with the advertising panels present in the Primary School, indicate that near this place there is a cave with about 150m, but difficult to access, and a grotto. Unfortunately I can’t find both of them and the visit should be accompanied by cavers, so I continued to walk on Main Street to the other end of the village, where I found the Arrifana Fountain and bathing area.
The space also converted into a small picnic area, has a metal footbridge over the water that links the two sides.
The cobblestone street that follows the small gardens along the canal, returns to EN1, crossing it again to enter a country path ripping agricultural fields dominated by olive groves, vineyards and cornfields. It is already late in the afternoon and the sun, before saying goodbye, kisses with its rays the fertile fields, making its much hotter and intense colors.
As witness all the hard work in the fields, so as to extract the best that these lands have to offer, while a rabbit passes by rampant, runs about 50 meters in the same direction, daring me to move faster.
I turn right on the trail that passes over the water almost stagnant in Moors River, this time of year. Later come to a pine forest section and continue to the left, following below the A1 to find ahead the National Road 342 (EN342) with access to the village of Ega. Looking to the left, up high, I saw “Paço da Ega” and the church tower.
After the bridge over the Moors River I discover the style Manueline pillory at the entrance of the village. The Municipal Road 607 (EM607) leads me quickly to “Paço da Ega” where I finish the hiking trail of about 7,5kms and with a low degree of difficulty.
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