Central Way

Fornalhas Velhas < > São Domingos

Stage 6

We evoke the history of Vale de Santiago, which tells us that during the crisis of 1918, the rural workers of the region united in rebellion and began the first anarchist commune there. They became vegetarians and naturists, devoted to agriculture and shoemaking. However, it didn’t last long, as they were subjected to police persecution and repression, and accused of encouraging the rural strikes that occurred after that.

A chegar a São Domingos

Arriving to São Domingos


Much older is the parish church of São Domingos, built in the late Middle Age, when the village was a chaplaincy of the Order of Santiago, but preserving still a holy water sink from the Manueline era. A simple temple, typical of rural and peripheral territory, its construction was determined by functional values, enriched in the 17th and 18th centuries with altars and devotional images, and later, a bell tower in the 20th century.

As it suggests, São Domingos got its name from a saint. An old legend tells that some local inhabitants used to worship an image of St Dominic, in an undetermined place on the south side of São Domingos stream. As they wanted to build a chapel on the opposite side of the margin, they would bring the image to the desired place, but the next morning the image insisted on miraculously appearing in the original place.

That’s why both the church and the village have the present implantation.In São Domingos there is also the old grinding mill of José Mateus Vilhena, built in 1925, which ceased activity in 1982. After a period of decadence, the monumental ensemble was used for local accommodation. Part of the project was converted into the Museu da Farinha (Flour Museum), which opened its doors in 2014 and restores much of the industrial material previously used in the factory.

Fonte Cerne Dam (Serne)

With an area of 105 hectares, the dam of Fonte Cerne was designed in 1973 and built in 1977, to exploit the flow of the Vale Diogo stream. The embankment wall has a height of 18 meters. It is a secondary dam, with a local irrigation system, although today it is more suited for leisure zone.

and also...

Farinha Museum

Opened in 2014, the Flour Museum presents an element of the rural and industrial heritage that is striking for the Alentejo region. It is located in the old Grinding Factory, which worked until 1982 and where you can see part of its equipment, most of it built in wood. From the harvest to the bread, this museum depicts the cycle of this food, which is part of the base of the Portuguese diet.


We proceed until the end of Rua 25 de Abril and continue straight ahead, on a dirt track flanked by eucalyptus trees that ensure the shade. Following the signs, we enter through a metallic gate in the beautiful property of Monte Novo das Fornalhas and go down the hill overlooking a dam on the right side. We pass over a stream and do not give in to the immense mud that accumulates next to the ETAR (Wastewater Treatment Plant).

Less than 1 km later, between flocks of sheep and cultivated plots, we arrive at a road (N262). We turn left and then right, pass the uncharacteristic place of Castelo Velho, location of ancient fortified prehistoric settlements, where later was installed a small rural castle of the Islamic Period, which the Order of Santiago took advantage of. Towers, hills and castles were very common in the territory of Odemira, for defense during the endless wars and alternate conquests of bastions, from the 8th to the 12th century, in this border area between the territories of Portuguese Muslims and Christians. Once again we curve to the right, to another asphalted branch, which passes the macadam road a little further on, as soon as we enter the municipality of Santiago do Cacém. The large road allows us to have good panoramic views of the entire surrounding region, particularly when we approach the Monte dos Alhos dam, where we watch the virtuous aerial dances of thousands of birds from different species. On the north side of the dam, there is also a vast plantation of stone pines on a bright green carpet, which adds a beautiful frame to this unexpected corner.

We pass over the dam wall and find a curve on an asphalt road, surrounding the installations of Monte dos Alhos, on which we take the route on the left. After 2.5 kms, we turn left again to follow through Foros da Casa Nova. We take a break at the coffee shop A Paragem, the only one in the village that also prepares lunches, which comes in handy!…

Distance 19,7 km

Maximum altitude 110 m

Cumulative increase 214 m

Cumulative descent -223 m

Duration 5h00m

Difficulty (0-5) 3

Stage 6

With the stomach ready for the last effort until São Domingos, we enter through lands where the agricultural activity has lost space, mainly giving place to the eucalyptus, cork oak, and holm oak forests, more or less organized, along the 6 km that separate us from the stage end. We cross the village towards the Junta de Freguesia (Parish Council), located in the same square, Largo 25 de Abril, as the old and simple church that exists there, and where we consider today’s route to be finished. Here, in São Domingos, we visit the Museu da Farinha (Flour Museum), located at Rua 1º de Maio. Situated in an old milling factory, it exposes most of the industrial material used in the factory, which closed in 1982. In the main church, built when the town belonged to the Order of Santiago, we discovered a Manueline baptismal font.


Always carry water, supplies, sunscreen, a hat, waterproof, comfortable shoes, and a map.


Monte da Garrocheirinha
+351 269 909 213/+351 937 755 990

Monte Xisto Hotel Rural ****
+351 269 900 040/+351 939 221 386


 São Domingos and Vale de Água Parish Councils +351 269 903 15


 Bank/Cash Dispenser

 São Domingos Post Office
Papelaria Joaninha (stationery shop)


 Public Shower


For questions related to accommodation, please contact the parish council.

Points of Interest

 Campilhas Dam

 São Domingos Church

 Flour Museum


Emergency: 112
Forest Fires: 117


Do not leave the marked and signaled route. Do not approach cliffs. Pay attention to the markings. Do not dispose of organic or inorganic waste during the trail, take a bag for this purpose. If you see garbage, collect it, help us to keep the Paths clean. Beware of livestock, don’t bother the animals. Leave Nature intact. Do not collect plants, animals or rocks. Avoid making noise. Respect private property, close gates and barriers. Don’t light fires and be careful with cigarettes. Do not vandalize the Paths signage.