Portugal Hideaways: Serras de Aire e Candeeiros

Come and visit the Serras de Aire and Candeeiros, a protected area located in the center of Portugal

The Natural Park of the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros covers a significant part of the Maciço Calcário Estremenho (MCE), which corresponds to an area with levels greater than 200 m that stands out from the surrounding areas with altitudes ranging between 100 and 200 m. This elevated zone develops between the municipalities of Leiria, Rio Maior, Torres Novas, and Tomar, approximately 30 km from the coast.

The dryness, accentuated by the absence of shallow watercourses, marks a landscape to which faults, escarpments and rocky outcrops give a vigorous and rugged streak. The water flows through an intricate underground network. Karst erosion, in turn, gave rise to characteristic formations in a rare profusion of forms. Cavities are often fertile in speleothems.

In fauna, more than 100 species of birds nest here, being the group of vertebrates with the largest number in the park. Some species are nationally important, such as eagle owls and red-billed rooks that nest in cavities.

The karst morphology, the nature of the vegetation cover (with about 600 species, including wild orchids and endemic species in Portugal), the network of underground water courses, a specific fauna, namely cave-dwelling (with important bat colonies, symbol of the park), and intense activity in the field of stone extraction are other and many aspects that led to the creation of the natural park.

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