The word “Alentejo" literally means “beyond the Tejo” and refers to the land on the other side of the river (from the point of view of those travelling down from the north). It is the largest region in Portugal and the least densely populated. A predominantly agricultural district, it has huge areas of dry, arable land where cereals ripen in the sun. There are also some medium-sized cities, such as Portalegre, Beja and Évora.
In general the area consists of vast, gently undulating and geologically old plains, relieved by the occasional house or ruin standing on top of a hill and sparse vegetation in the form of cork oak or olive plantations, in a landscape that resembles a savannah. The main produce from the Alentejo plantations is cork and olives.
It is usually very hot in summer. There are no major rivers, apart from the Sado, which has its source in the Algarve and reaches the sea at Setúbal in a very beautiful estuary, and the Guadiana, which flows along the Spanish border and across part of this region. The largest dam in mainland Europe has been built on a stretch of this river that runs through the heart of the Alentejo.
In the east, the region borders on Spain, and there is almost no difference between its landscape and that of Spanish Estremadura. In the south, it extends as far as the Algarve, and in the north, to the Ribatejo. The west consists of a lengthy and much cooler coastline, with some of the most beautiful scenery and beaches in Europe, lined with cliffs and endless sands.
It is also the best region for observing the night skies. Countless constellations can be seen in the heavens and you do not have to wait long to catch sight of a meteor with its tail blazing through the sky. In Portugal, it is the custom to make a wish when you see a falling star. uma savana.