VILLAGES

Fajão

açor mountain
Açor MountainFajão
Fajão
fajão, pampilhosa da serra
A story-book Village. Fajão nestles peacefully between the quartzite cliffs of the Penedos de Fajão and the River Ceira. And a certain Monsignor immortalized it in stories and woodcuts.

This old town is cradled in a picturesque bowl in the mountain range, perched overlooking the River Ceira and close to its source, encircled by looming peaks of quartzite that call to mind ancient natural castles. Those wishing to practise mountaineering and scale these rocks can enjoy a unique vista.
Restoration work began in the village in September 2003, embracing both public spaces and private properties. Of their own accord, owners demolished part of their buildings and Fajão took on a more picturesque air.

… situated in a highly picturesque bowl in the mountain range of the same name, perched overlooking the River Ceira and close to its source, encircled by looming cliffs of schist whose configurations offer the impressive aspect of a dead, troglodyte city carved from natural castles and caves (Penalva, Forno, Igreja dos Mouros and Porta da Falsidade). Those wishing to practise mountaineering and walk among these peaks will enjoy a truly strange, singularly beautiful spectacle and will have the illusion – we cannot say whether of a convulsed upwelling of Dante’s Inferno, as envisaged by Gustave Doré, or of giant bones from another planet that have tumbled from the sky to remain there, astonishingly static, hanging over the abyss of centuries-old chestnut groves and lands carpeted with wild plants. And anyone climbing to Rocha, at the top of the mountain range, at an altitude of 1186 m., can gaze to the east, south and west on the breathtaking panorama of broad horizons that stretch from the depths of Beira Baixa and Estremadura, in a sea of drab brown, yellow, blue and violet mountains whose waves call to mind a great cavalry rising up to charge at the Serra de Estrela.”

Guilherme Filipe, in “Guia de Portugal - Beira Litoral, Beira Baixa, Beira Alta” (1944)

The village, a hotbed of culture, has its own museum named after  Monsignor Nunes Pereira. The collection includes woodcuts, watercolours of Fajão and objects that form part of the village’s history (such as its first public telephone).
However, there is more to see and do in Fajão. Points of interest include the typical communal oven, the public wash house and the old primary school from the time of the Estado Novo dictatorship. The surrounding nature is also a crowning jewel of the village. From here, one can almost see the source of the River Ceira, a tributary of the Mondego.

Enter the churchyard, and experience the coolness of the Fonte Velha (Old Spring). Wander through the courtyards of the largo da cadeia (prison square) and the Monsenhor Nunes Pereira museum to the top of the village. There, the swimming pool lies waiting for the long summer days. As you stroll by, note the taramelas (wooden door latches) together with other unique architectural details. Follow the history related on the slate panels that refer to the "Tales of Fajão". Walk in the steps taken by the characters, seat yourself at their table and discover why the local cuisine is one of Fajão’s greatest attractions.

  • territory

    Fajão lies at the heart of the Serra do Açor mountain range, beside the quartzite formation known as Penedos de Fajão and overlooking the left bank of the River Ceira. The village of Fajão, one of the ten parishes of the municipality of Pampilhosa da Serra, is situated in a zone of intense beauty, surrounded by tall crags and criss-crossed by deep valleys through which the Ceira winds.

  • nature

    The outskirts of the village adjoin the Serra do Açor Protected Landscape  (Penedos de Fajão) in the Natura 2000 Network. An impressive ash tree (Fraxinus angustifolia) stands in the churchyard and Portugal laurels abound on the banks of the Ceira. Indeed, the source of the river lies close to the village.
    A stunning view of the entire village can be had from the viewpoint at Nossa Senhora da Guia. The Penedos de Fajão, which have inspired enduring legends and superstitions. The skyline of the mountains, with their deep valleys and sharp ridges, resembling the back of a giant dragon . The “Pedra que Abana" (rocking boulder) offering endless vistas over the enclosed valley that stretches to Ponte de Fajão.

    The village’s river
    We can almost spot the source of the Ceira from Fajão, to the left of the Pico da Cebola (1438m). The little river soon becomes curbed in the reservoir of the Alto Ceira dam. Then, it will flow onwards between slopes covered in Portugal laurels, here in the valley at the foot of the village, already with the busy air of one who knows where he is going: to join the Mondego by Coimbra.

  • history and stories

    In 1233, the Prior of the S. Pedro de Folques monastery (Arganil), D. Pedro Mendes, granted a Charter to  "ten Settlers of Seira, which was later named Fajão", within the policy aimed at creating  communities of free men who will guarantee the settlement of the Christian territory. It was the first charter granted by the monastery. With this legal document, Fajão acquired the status of municipality, albeit its boundaries were only officially demarcated in February 1602, paying rent to the aforementioned monastery of 10 bushels of wheat and 10 chickens In the register of the population of the Realm, the “Cadastro da população do Reino (1527)” the place of fajão appears as the seat of the municipality, with 18 inhabitants. In 1594 Fajão became subject to the Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra.

    The boundaries of the municipality of Fajão were only officially demarcated in 1602, including the parishes of Dornelas, Fajão, Janeiro de Baixo, Teixeira, Unhais-o-Velho and Vidual. In the meantime, a Brief from Pope Paul V annexed the belongings of the monasteries of Folques and Paderne to the Colégio da Sapiência of Santa Cruz de Coimbra. Fajão ceased to belong to Folques and became a possession of Santa Cruz, thereby acquiring the right to privileges and exemptions granted by the throne to the Santa Cruz Monastery. However, the inhabitants of Fajão had to protest in order for these privileges to take effect and one of these appeals made the man fronting it, Pascoal Fernandes, a relevant figure in the celebrated “Tales of Fajão”. This municipality was abolished on 24 October 1855, at the time of Mouzinho da Silveira’s administrative reform.

    Origin of the name
    Pinho Leal claims that the etymological root of the word Fajão is Fayão, a male first name in the Gothic language.

    Tales of Fajão
    The traditional Tales of Fajão are 24 texts collected and published in 1989 by the alert, sensitive and discerning Monsignor Nunes Pereira. The tales, presented in a creative writing style that charms the reader, bear witness to the wealth of legends in the region. They are also, in many cases, life lessons. To the art of writing, the author also added that of drawing, creating a woodcut for each tale. Many of the tales date back to the Middle Ages and the Judge of Fajão is at the same time a character in the tales and a symbol of the author’s spirit, carried over from one generation to the next. A valuable heritage of Fajão, these tales bear a resemblance to the German tales of Beckum.

  • patrimony

    Fajão showcases its schist houses, examples of the architecture typical to this area. It has a complex urban fabric. The whole village flows sinuously to the churchyard of the Mother church. The slope on which it is built is offset by oblique alleys with ramps and steps. The predominant building material is schist- sometimes of a dark hue, sometimes almost ochre – with now and again quartzite. Although some facades have been rendered and painted, traditional colours (white and ochre) have been used for the most part, giving the village a strong visual identity.

    Fajão welcomes us with the hospitality of its people and the surprising beauty of its houses. Each has a history made up of small details and innovative configurations that respect and flatter the traditional lines. You should walk slowly and appreciate the loving relationship between the schist and the timbers of the doors and windows, or note how the colour of the walls seems to light up all the streets inside and that they all guide us to the light of the more open spaces. The salient features in the house exteriors are the slate roofs and the sober lines of the carpentry. The single pane double-glazed windows, with shutters on the inside, bring a lightness to the whole structure of the buildings. The doors, surmounted by wooden lintels, sometimes still have the traditional glass postigo (small shuttered opening in a door). Here and there, a number of walls rendered and painted in dark yellow bring cheer to the village with sporadic flashes of colour. Take time to admire the door knockers, the postigos and surrounds, the copings and the curved walls, the water spouts and the verandas.

    The religious heritage is always a factor and Fajão Village is no exception. There is theMother church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, where construction began in 1788 and was concluded the following year. Inside, we find a series of religious images, all from the 16th century. There are also two modest yet picturesque chapels that are well worth a visit. In addition, there is the old City Hall, which also served as the Courthouse and Prison. Although the original blueprint has been maintained, it has been converted into tourist accommodation. The old primary school, a building so typical of the 20th century Portuguese style and evocative of the time, is also a must-see, as is the public wash house. You might also like to visit a number of 19th century private houses. They were built in 1869, 1881 and 1825. The Fonte Velha (Old Spring), source of the original village water supply, is also an interesting place to visit. It is sited below the churchyard. And, obviously, as cultural heritage, Fajão has the  Monsenhor Nunes Pereira museum. It appeals to those wishing to deepen their knowledge of the village’s history while admiring works of art created in schist.

    Also worth a visit:

    • Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Guia
    • Chapel of São Salvador
    • Old City hall, Courthouse and Prison
      Although the original blueprint has been maintained, there have been a number of interventions affecting the original appearance since it was sold to private parties, namely with regard to window and door openings. The building currently functions as tourist accommodation.
    • Private houses from the XIX century
      On the Rua da Liga de Melhoramentos da Freguesia de Fajão, stand a number of private houses bearing stones carved with their date of construction:
      - "1869 / J. T."
      - another with "1881 / J. A. S."
      - further along, another with "I. M. N. 1825"
    • Old Primary School
      This building was erected as part of a general intervention within the country called the "Centenaries Plan" whereby the Estado Novo aimed to provide teaching for all children. The initiative was developed in partnership with the Municipal Councils.
    • Public wash house
      This facility, from the 1950’s or 60’s, still has the original architectural characteristics and building materials.
    • Old Spring
      Sited below the churchyard, this water source would have been a determining factor in establishing the village in this place.
    • Wayside shrine (to the souls in purgatory)
      Located on the road to the River Ceira, featuring a woodcut by Monsignor Nunes Pereira dated 2000, with the inscription “For the Souls O.F.H.M.” (i.e. initials of the two prayers: Our Father Hail Mary).
  • products
    • Horticultural produce
    • Potatoes
    • Chestnuts
    • Arbutus
    • Schist model houses
    • Clocks with schist hands
  • how to arrive

    GPS: 40º08’56’’N; 7º55’22’’O. Altitude: 720 m.

    Dista 20 km de Pampilhosa da Serra, utilizando a EN112 e a estrada municipal que passa por Soeirinho.

    Do nó do IP3 com o IC12 até ao Fajão são 57km seguindo pela EN234-6, passando por Tábua até à EN17 (18km). Da EN17 seguir em direcção a Coja (9 km). Depois de atravessarmos a ponte sobre o Rio Alva, seguir à esquerda. Nos próximos 6 km vamos deparar com vários cruzamentos. A cerca de 4km atingirmos um desvio à direita. Em Casal de S. João contornamos a capela para a direita. No cruzamento seguinte atingimos a EN344 tomando a esquerda e logo após o desvio que nos levaria a AX Benfeita. Estamos a 24 km de Fajão.

    Seguimos na EN344 efectuando uma extensa subida na qual, ao fim de 10 km, temos à direita o acesso à Relva Velha que nos levaria à Mata da Margaraça. Mas permanecemos na EN344 e adiante seguimos à direita (á esquerda seguiríamos para o Piódão). Novo cruzamento onde tomamos a esquerda. Quando iniciarmos a descida e depararmos com um painel da freguesia de Fajão, preparemo-nos para tomar a estrada à direita para descermos até ao Rio Ceira. Passamos Ponte de Fajão e iniciamos a subida para Fajão.

  • Residents' name
    fajenses
  • Patron saint
    nossa senhora da assunção
  • Ex-libris
    monsenhor nunes pereira museum

explore

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