Sobral de S. Miguel, “the heart of schist”
Sobral de S. Miguel is part of the Schist Villages Network, made up of 27 villages spread across 16 counties in central Portugal. The village slogan “The heart of shale” is not innocent. This village will be one of the largest clusters of buildings in schist in Portugal and from the quarries in Sobral, shale is exported to the world.
There are traces of an occupation since ancient times.
Romans, barbarians and Arabs also left their traces here, on some bridges, sidewalks and local names. But it is in medieval times that the settlement or the general expansion of Aldeias do Xisto takes place, some because they are in strategic points of commercial routes, such as Sobral de São Miguel in the municipality of Covilhã.
We are in front of a very old town, as attested by the numerous traces of rock art. The origin of this village dates back to the Roman era and is always associated with the old trade routes. There are indications of Moorish mines that also point to an Arab experience, confirmed by the legends narrated by the older population.
Here it is said that Sobral was populated by pig keepers who came temporarily with their sticks to put on fat with the cork oaks. As Sobral was an area crossed by caravans of merchants that traded between the coast and the center of the Peninsula, they started by building shelters, together with the few existing houses of the pig keepers. The first houses were built along the river, more or less in front of a chapel in honor of São Miguel (patron saint of the village), which years later gave way to the current Igreja Matriz.
The streets and alleys of the village, which sometimes accompany the bed of Ribeira do Porsim, which shows us the levadas and watermills are undoubtedly a way to go. Going up the village you can also visit the community ovens and the traditional houses with beautiful balconies and balconies. From the inside out of the village, you can get to know the fauna and flora and live with the shepherds through the pedestrian route designated as “Rota dos Pastores”, about 8 km long and reaching a maximum altitude of 925 m.
As for gastronomic heritage, in the village you can taste everything from sour cherry to chorizo, sardine and cod, including honey, fresh and cured cheese, bread and wood-fired bread, but not only. Sobral has yet to offer a vast intangible, cultural and artistic heritage.
To discover this Schist Village is to give and receive a word of greeting from its inhabitants. If you give a few more conversations, you will receive a great life story in return.
Sobral de S. Miguel is, for all this, a destination with a soul!