Rocha da Pena
Looking out over the Barrocal region
The protected area of Rocha da Pena offers one of the very best vantage points for looking out over the vast expanse of the Algarve’s Barrocal landscape with all the geological oddities and diversity of fauna and flora that the region is famous for. Located between Benafim and Salir, this rocky massif covers over 600 hectares reaching its highest point at 479 metres. The craggy landscape features a limestone cornice reaching 50 metres high and topped by a plateau some two kilometres in length.
The natural beauty of this region results in a rich and varied flora, made up of over 390 species of plants – endemic, medicinal and aromatic – and the characteristic geographical formations of the Barrocal region of the Algarve. Highlights include a striking species of wild rose, yarrow, wild orchids and differing types of scented rosemary.
Standing out amongst the diverse animal life surviving here are the large birds of prey, such as the Bonelli’s eagle, the buzzard and the eagle owl, in addition to the many other birds patrolling these skies, such as the bee-eater, which digs its nest out of the escarpment slopes, the great spotted woodpecker and the tit. Wild rabbits and hedgehogs share the land with foxes, genets, mongooses and a small species of wild boar.
This wild landscape, reaching down to the distant sea, is ideal for long walks, but it is also an understandable favourite among rock climbers, because of the excellent conditions provided by all the cliffs and steep escarpments with which nature has endowed the region.
The caves carved out of the limestone rock by water erosion are also excellent places to explore and discover. Perched on top of Rocha da Pena is Algar dos Mouros, a site renowned historically as the preferred place of refuge for the Moors as they fled from the forces of Paio Peres Correia when he reconquered Salir.
The stone battlements existing at the top of this listed site may possibly date back to the Iron Age and have long served as a strategic point of defence. An arched entranceway and a chimney dating from 1827, which can be found in the village of Penina, in addition to the Pena windmills, are other local places of special interest that are well worth visiting.
The text on this site is extracted with friendly permission of RTA from their website.
Rocha da Pena