Village

Água Formosa

Aldeia de formosura

A source of the purest water, right in the heart of Portugal.

A aldeia deve o seu nome a uma fonte de água puríssima.

10 km from the Geodesic Centre of Portugal ,the village of Água Formosa hides away on a sunny slope between the Ribeira da Corga and the Ribeira da Galega. Upon arrival, you are greeted with peace, interspersed with the trickling of water between the rocks in the riverbed.

You can still find evidence of ancient traditions here, such as a number of wood-burning ovens scattered around the village and also of traditions calling on the power of the water, in a natural setting that highlights the best relations between Man and Nature. Otherwise the name of the village would not derive from there being a spring of purest water there.

In Água Formosa, the hillsides slope steeply and are covered in rocky outcrops. The houses are mainly along the left bank of the stream, benefiting from its good sun exposure.

 

The village lives again

Here we fall for the sincere kindness of the inhabitants, for the cobbled path that leads us to the spring of purest water, an antidote for the heat which also quenches our thirst for rest. Try crossing the footbridge over the stream to gain a different perspective of the village.

Along with the requalification of the village came new inhabitants: the population jumped from four in 2002 to the nine that currently live here permanently. A tourist accommodation unit was built here in recent years. And one by one, the remaining houses are being restored. Temporary residents appear at the weekend and leave anxious to return soon. There are new vegetable plots and fruit trees all around the village. The village lives again.

 

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Heritage

The predominant building material is quartzite, but there is also plenty of schist. Cork oak and olive wood are used in the door and window lintels. A number of houses still have traditional rendering of rough mortar covering the stonework. Current buildings are constructed on or take advantage of outcrops around the village.

The existing built heritage consists of a group of solid, traditional constructions that seem to have been part of the landscape for thousands of years. They are handfuls of stone-built houses, roofed with the typical Portuguese “barrel tiles” laid over wooden rafters. True to the characteristic housing of this region, the lower floor shelters animals or is used to store agricultural implements. On the first floor, with the comfort peculiar to rustic environments, we find the living room, kitchen and one or two alcoves that serve as bedrooms. Some of these houses have an oven, hayloft and threshing floor.

Also worth a visit:

  • Beggar´s Refuge
    Currently closed by decision of the owner.

  • Eira dos Réis (threshing floor)
    On the outskirts of the village, where corn, beans and straw are still dried in late summer.

  • Wood-burning oven
    In the centre of the village, still in use... and not just for baking bread.

  • Footbridge over the Ribeira da Galega
    The only crossing over the Ribeira da Galega in the village, this modern bridge was built to replace the original one that stood there.

  • Watermill
    Of around a dozen watermills that used to stand along the Ribeira da Galega, only three remain and only one of them still works.

History

The origins of Água Formosa are hazy, but it is presumably very old.
The decision on where to establish the settlement must have been largely influenced by the abundance of water there has always been here, thanks to the two streams that flow around the village. And this is borne out by evidence such as the wells, weirs, and respective flumes, watermills, recent memories of the shadoofs (well poles) and the terraces that are still part of Água Formosa. 

You can still see the watermills built along the banks of the Ribeira da Galega by the first villagers, millers from elsewhere, using the swift current to grind the corns, wheat and rye sowed in the valley. Attracted by the steady repetition of work that brings bread to the world, they settled here, where the water has left an indelible mark on both the name and the appearance of the village. They quickly built the stone steps leading to the source and took advantage of a large opening in the rock to form a water reservoir. All to protect and honour the beautiful liquid that life depends on.

 

 

Nature

It is worth taking a moment to close your eyes and listen to the characteristic sounds of this place. The cries of birds of prey, the birdsong, the rustling of pine needles. The murmur of the Ribeira Galega, as well as other water courses serving the villagers’ vegetable plots, bubbling with small fish and riparian vegetation. It is an orchestra conducted by Nature itself.

In the waters of the stream you can spot the boga-portuguesa (Rutilus lusitanicus), or terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) sunning themselves on the rocks and otters have recently been sighted again. On the banks, right at the water’s edge, we can see (except in winter) the royal fern (Osmunda regalis), one of the biggest ferns to be found in Portugal, with large and beautiful fronds. Each can attain over a metre in length.
 

On the damp rocky walls of the spring we can find  Denticulata, in turn one of the smallest ferns in our country. Look and wonder at the delicacy of this plant, but do not pick it or even touch it. It is very fragile. The village is embraced by several good-sized cork oaks.

Territory

 

Nestled into a south-facing slope, Água Formosa looks to be running into the arms of the Ribeira Galega to settle on its pine encircled banks. It has an irregular urban structure, dense and adapted to the lie of the land, in narrow streets that clearly show how the village has grown along the water course. At the cost of enduring the difficult access, this village has remained practically untouched on the map of Vila do Rei municipality.

 

Stories and Facts

Despite its small size,  the inhabitants of Água Formosa divide the village into ten distinct areas, each with a decidedly curious name: Badalinho (little clapper), Tulhas (granaries), Horta de Milho (corn patch), Horta da Nogueira (walnut-tree plot), Lajes (paving slabs), Hortinha (little vegetable plot), Sobreiros (cork oaks), Horta da Levada (vegetable plot of the flume), Labrusca (fox grape) and Rua da Eira (threshing floor street).

Facts

  •     Permanent residents: fewer than 10
  •     Star attraction: the water spring

 

Products

  • Vegetables and legumes
  • Honey
  • Arbutus
  • Traditional fruit brandy from the fruit of the strawberry tree,

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Contacts and Information

Location:
Água Formosa, Vila de Rei 
Getting Here:
De Sul
Pela A1 até à saída 7, na direcção Torres Novas, Abrantes (A23); seguir pela A23 até à saída 10 (após o km 41), na direcção Abrantes Norte, Vila de Rei, Sardoal; nas rotundas seguir pela N2, direcção Sardoal, Vila de Rei; na N2, após o km 374 seguir virar à direita, na direcção Vilar Chão, Água Formosa, Lousa (cf. placa); ao chegar à Lousa, após 2,2 km, virar à esquerda na direcção Água Formosa, Vilar Chão (cf. placa); após 1,2 km, seguir pela direita, na direcção de Água Formosa (cf. placa); após 0,7km entra em Água Formosa, pela parte nova. A parte antiga fica no final desse caminho.

De Norte
Pela A1 até à saída 7, na direcção Torres Novas, Abrantes (A23); seguir pela A23 até à saída 10 (após o km 41), na direcção Abrantes Norte, Vila de Rei, Sardoal; nas rotundas seguir pela N2, direcção Sardoal, Vila de Rei; na N2, após o km 374 seguir virar à direita, na direcção Vilar Chão, Água Formosa, Lousa (cf. placa); ao chegar à Lousa, após 2,2 km, virar à esquerda na direcção Água Formosa, Vilar Chão (cf. placa); após 1,2 km, seguir pela direita, na direcção de Água Formosa (cf. placa); após 0,7km entra em Água Formosa, pela parte nova. A parte antiga fica no final desse caminho.

De Espanha (Vilar Formoso)
Seguir o IP5, sair em direcção à A23; seguir a A23 até à saída 10 (Abrantes Norte, Vila de Rei, Sardoal); na rotunda, seguir na direcção Vila de Rei, Sardoal, pela N2; na N2, após o km 374 seguir virar à direita, na direcção Vilar Chão, Água Formosa, Lousa (cf. placa); ao chegar à Lousa, após 2,2 km, virar à esquerda na direcção Água Formosa, Vilar Chão (cf. placa); após 1,2 km, seguir pela direita, na direcção de Água Formosa (cf. placa); após 0,7km entra em Água Formosa, pela parte nova. A parte antiga fica no final desse caminho

Contactos

Associado

Câmara Municipal de Vila de Rei

Praça Familia Mattos e Silva Neves
6110 Vila de Rei 
Portugal
(+351) 274 890 010
Associado

Junta de Freguesia de Vila de Rei

Rua Dr. João Germano Neves Silva, 5
6110 Vila de Rei 
Portugal
Junta de Freguesia: (+351) 274 898 457 Loja Água Formosa: (+351) 274 898 334
Associado

Posto de Turismo de Vila de Rei

6110 Vila de Rei 
Portugal
(+351) 274 890 000

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