Minas de São Domingos, something different, Portugal

Minas de São Domingos is a village located in the south of Alentejo, close to Spain’s border, perhaps in one of the least densely populated areas in the country.

It is one of those kinds of places I try to find when I travel, wherever I go.

It has a fascinating history, and the landscape is unusual.

It allows excellent walks or bike rides, delicious food, and, as if everything else was not enough, the weather is very favorable. That is, it rains little, and the sun shines frequently.

I started going to Minas de São Domingos more than thirty years ago with a friend I met during compulsory military service. His parents are from there, and I was always invited to spend some weekends or vacation days.

Since that time, I have seen some changes, I did not like them all, but in general, it has remained more or less the same, a unique and extraordinary place.

The place’s history is closely linked to the mining of cupric pyrites, the base from which copper, sulfur, and some other elements can be extracted.

Very briefly, the history of mining in this village can be told as follows:

    • During the Roman occupation, there were mining activities between 14 BC and 395 AD
    • In 1854, a Spanish mining engineer carried out ore prospecting work and found what he was looking for. The group of French engineers for whom he worked opened a company in Spain and obtained authorization from the Portuguese government for mining there.
    • This company’s potential activity was leased to an English company, Mason & Barry Ltd, which started mining the ore in 1859.
    • During the last mining period, Mason & Barry built a set of infrastructure that left indelible marks:
    • Dams and tanks
    • Railway between Minas de São Domingos and Pomarão
    • Housing for workers
    • Hospital, kindergartens, soccer field, and other social infrastructures
    • In 1965, after a long slow death, the ore extraction was stopped.
    • 1968, Mason & Barry goes bankrupt, and the last worker was fired.

Of course, there are many other exciting elements to understand Minas de São Domingos‘s life in the above summary, but this is not the appropriate place to detail them.

The history of mining in Minas de São Domingos is, among the village’s attractions, the most immediate. However, it is not the only one.

The River Beach of Minas de São Domingos, which many years ago was identified simply by the name of “a Tapada” is also a mandatory stopping point, attracting many bathers as soon as the summer heat begins.

Contrary to the cold waters we can usually find on river beaches, this beach has warm waters. The water is heated by the frequent high air temperatures.

For those who like active tourism, another point of interest is the walk that connects this village to Pomarão, always following the old train line route.

For more details on this walk, I ask you to wait for a detailed article.

Notwithstanding the more detailed information you can find in the specific article on the hike, I can say that the landscape is different from the usual, both because of the ruins of the old mine structures and the strong colors of terrain you can find along the way.

Finally, one of the main reasons for the place’s attraction you will feel it, but you can’t see it. It is a peaceful environment that we will find here, an ambiance that contaminates us.

For reasons too extensive to be exposed here, life in the village follows such a slow pace that I cannot identify such slowness anywhere else. Ignoring time is contagious and fills us with peace.

Hope you like it.

Minas de São Domingos
Minas de São Domingos
Minas de São Domingos
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