Santo António da Neve


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In order to make a pilgrimage to Santo António da Neve, it is possible to choose between the already defined pedestrian tour and driving by the sinuous road of Coentral.

As it is more pleasant, we choose to go through a trail that combines a forest with exotic species and Cumeadas’ forest.

Starting at Casa de Guarda Florestal in Porto Espinho (at 970 metros of altitude), at Coentral’s surroundings, this tour has an extension of around 20 Km (depart and return tour) and, thus, it takes about eight hours.

It’s a trail full of delights; turning on the right at Casa de Guarda , after ascending a little bit, we can see the valley of Ribeira de Pera, namely Aldeia do Coentral and the scarped valley of Ribeira de Quelhas.

At the Spring time, when this trail gets to the peak of its enchantment, the colours of the forest form an amazing scenario; the gorse, the heather, the Portuguese broom and carqueija , in a unique contrast with the dark green colour of the black pine trees.

Following with our hiking trail, we can observe the valley of Ribeira de São João and, here and there some Mountain Villages, while we get closer to Ribeira de Cavalete, place with luxurious vegetation and a true paradise for the local fauna.

With a bit of luck we can even be face to face with a deer.

At this point, we already close to the plateau of Santo António da Neve...

When we arrive to our destiny and at 1157 meters of altitude, we can enjoy the landscape and perceive the scarped line of the Central Mountain Range.

Place of pilgrimages and feasts of the Mountain people, the chapel and the snow wells make us dream with ancient times in which the people collected and kept the snow, turning it into the ice that would be carried then in caw cars until River Zêzere and from there, by boat, until the wine cellars and royal kitchens of Lisbon.

At the chapel’s plaque, we can read:

'THIS CHAPEL OF THE GLORIOUS SANTO ANTONIO OF LISBON WAS BUILT BY DEMAND OF JULIÃO PEREIRA DE CASTRO, SERVANT OF OUR KINGDOM IN THE ROYAL’S HOUSE AND ROYAL SNOW MAN IN 1786'

At this plateau we feel wrapped by nature and in total harmony with it.

The floor covered with small grass and, every now and then, with wild strawberries and mayflowers, invites to rest or lunch under the enormous pedunculate oaks, douglas-firs, larícios , European Hollies and other species that turn this space into one of the most pleasant ones from Lousã’s Mountain.

The heather trees, whose colour varies according to the time of the year - from the smooth pink to the intense violet - are always present at the landscape and the bees, in constant work, fly around them, searching for the precious pollen which will became the dark Honey of Lousã’s Mountain [*].

On the way back, we cross the highest spot of the Mountain, the Castle, Alto or Altar do Trevim , at 1.204 meters of altitude.

At this place, the view spreads through the Beiras... in sunny days we can see at west, the Buçaco and Boa Viagem’s Mountains until the Ocean; at the south side, Espinhal’s Mountain and Porto de Mós’ Massif; at east, Gardunha’s Mountain and, at north, Penedos de Fajão, Caramulo and Gralheira’s Mountains and Cântaros da Estrela.


[*]- P.D.O. Product – Protected Designation of Origin. Comprised area – all municipalities from the lands Entre LOusã e Zêzere.

Source: Entre A Serra e o Rio… Os trilhos ELOZ, edition Dueceira- Leader II ELOZ
Source: Photos AS/Dueceira; Engravings: João Viola; Heather’s Photo: Dueceira/Ecce Design; Photo took from the Site Pampilhosa da Serra at Imagens in
www.pampilhosaemimagens.com/
Learn More : Guia da Rede de Percursos da Serra da Lousã da QUERCUS


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Júlião Pereira de Castro, royal snow man, and his wife Policarma received yesterday, in the afternoon, an ice shipment at the botequim Casa da Neve, in Lisbon, original from Lousã’s Mountain. This could as well be a news article broadcasted at the 8th January 1782, as at the day before the Martinho da Arcada had been inaugurated, founded by this snow man.

What really happened yesterday was the historical reenactment of the snow carriage from the well of Alto de Santo António da Neve, in Coentral, municipality of Castanheira de Pera, at the top of Lousã’s Mountain, up until Lisbon, acted by Lousitânea - Liga de Amigos da Serra da Lousã (Friends of the Lousã’s Mountain). The event coincided with the yearly feast that takes place at the same local where in ancient times were seven snow wells and where is a chapel in honour to Santo António, sent to build by demand of the snow man.

At the early morning, the caws were already standing next to one of the three wells, recently restored, in order to carry the ice blocks removed by the snow men from the well where they had been put wrapped in rope bags and then in ferns, straw and packed in wood boxes.

Many people were there watching the caw cars starting this trip by Coentral’s centenarian pavements, reenacted with the help of Rancho da União Recreativa Sapateirense (Folklore Group) and of the caws, Amarelo and Cabana. The feast in honour to Santo António continued and the trip too, but by other ways of transport, as there were 127km to do until Constância.

In this village bathed by River Tejo it was then reenacted, with the cooperation of Grupo de Teatro PUGNA (Theatre Group), the moment of transferring the snow boxes to a traditional boat, from the 18th century, which would then take to the capital the so wanted product, desired by the royal house and by Lisbon’s high society.

Finally, already in Lisbon, at Praça do Comércio, the actors, members of Lousitânea and Rancho Folclórico Neveiros do Coentral themselves, gave life to the moment of delivering the ice to the Snow House which, at the time, was the official supplier of the royal house and, in case the ice was too many, it could be sold to cafés and city hotels at the price of eighty reis per kilo.

‘There are little studies on this subject’, says José Pais, one of the responsible ones for this event, who also recognizes that it is not yet possible to state for sure how many time was needed for the snow men to do this trip. Some people say at least three days. So far as we know, it was a profitable business because the ice that got to Lisbon was about a third or half of the original parcel. The snow man’s wealth was such that, when it was to be distributed by his sons, the coins had to be put in buckets.


Source: Jornal de Notícias, Reportage of Licínia Girão, 18 June 2007