Crato to Urgueira

On the Road – Distance 108km / 65mi | Elevation 1703m / 5538ft


An early morning stroll around the monastery before a sumptuous breakfast with bright sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.


A solid but beautiful morning took us into the Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede and towards the twin medieval towns of Castelo de Vide and Marvão.  From here it was virtually all downhill to lunch in the sleepy town of Nisa, but with a few pitchy rollers, in the 13% range! – lush green hills surrounded us for much of the day and as we crossed the Tagus River you feel the terrain change – hills are coming as we headed out of the Plains into the Mountains of Portugal!

Negative Loop ? The Marvao Climb – 10km / 250m

5 up @ 8% grade and 5 down for this little extra climb – Marvao was a stunning walled village to ride up into, and the views were worth the effort, as was the espresso! The elevation map below shows just to the coffee stop at the hilltop village of Marvao which is the summit of the second big peak…a big chunk of climbing to get there from Crato!


The formidable castle, built into the rock at the western end of the village, dates from the end of the 13th century, but most of what you see today was built in the 17th century. The views from the battlements are staggering. There’s a huge vaulted cistern (still full of water) near the entrance, and it’s landscaped with hedges and flower beds. The torre de menagem (keep) has displays on the castle’s history even pre-dating its 13th-century founding.

The remaining 65km of the ride was mainly downhill but had a few pitchy areas and a fair amount of cobblestones, always a fun surface to ride on…not!
Another stellar picnic lunch at km 75 before we finished the day at 109km and almost 6,000 ft of climbing.

Check in at Herdade da Urgueira

This family run hotel in the country was a last minute change on the itinerary and it certainly did not disappoint. The rooms are spacious and clean and the food we were served was tasty and bountiful…and they have a great wine cellar!

salad, sauteed mushrooms, chicken, steak, lava cake & ice cream!

Another great day in Portugal! More big climbs to come before it is all over! Ola!

a little more history…

Al Mansur died in 1010 which led to the crisis in which Medina Azahara, the city palace of Abd ar-Rahman III (on the outskirst of Cordoba), was destroyed by rampaging Berbers.  Moorish Spain deteriorated rapidly into violent turmoil.  The caliphate ceased to exist and Al Andaluz broke up into 20 taifas and unified rule came to an end.  Seville and Granada were the most powerful of these small kingdoms followed by Cordoba, Almeria, Zaragoza, Badajoz (just north of Zafra) and Toledo.
Along the Moorish/Christian frontier castles had been built to protect against Arab attack leading to the area being named Castile.  The kingdom of Leon had lead the reconquest until Al-Mansur’s raid on Santiago then Navarra under Sancho III became the key force.  Sancho gained control of Castile through marriage and placed his son Fernando on the throne.  Fernando then occupied León and became emperor of the Spains.  Castile would now dominate the reconquest.
When Fernando I died after taking lands from Valencia to Portugal, power was split between his sons, Alfonso in Leon and Sancho in Castile.  Sancho was served by a young knight who would become known as El Cid Campeador – ‘The Champion’ to the Christian armies he led as standard bearer and because he defeated an Arogonese knight in single combat.  Sancho unfortunately, was murdered under suspicious circumstances – probably by his brother Alfonso who also exiled El Cid. El Cid, then somewhat surprisingly to us offered his services to the Moorish forces of Zaragoza who took him on happily and it was here he earned the Arabic honorific al-sīd, which would evolve into El Cid (“the lord”). However, Iberia at this stage was a melting pot of minor powers fueding for rule so siding with Muslim lords over Christian ones, potentially did not concern him but admittedly some of his more modern admirers, El Cid is a genuine Spanish hero, gloss over this episode! Nevertheless, he was recalled by Alfonso when the Almoravid Berbers invaded from Morocco in 1086 and 8 years later he defeated the invaders and became the ruler of Valencia…