The name derives from the material used to build houses in the different villages. In Portugal, they have established themselves as a major tourist spot in the country's countryside. There are dozens of schist villages in Portugal, throughout this article, the villages in the region of Lousã, in the municipality of Coimbra, will be focused on.
The houses are usually located in rural areas such as the mountains and are hidden gems between mountains and valleys that can be traversed by trails that will make any visitor fall in love with their landscapes.
Lousã is a city with more than 10,000 inhabitants and is in the municipality of Coimbra. More than half of the municipality's territory is composed of forest areas, where some of the most beautiful landscapes in Portugal can be found.
The village goes unnoticed by those passing by, flanked by vegetation, the village faces North and develops in a steep descent along an axis that crosses the village and connects it to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Piedade. From this village, visitors can see the castle of Lousã as well as appreciate the architecture so typical of the schist villages.
According to the official website of the schist villages, in this village, only one couple is living in the village with a large flock, which makes it different from Casal Novo, which appears deserted to visitors. Visitors to Casal Novo quickly reach Chiqueiro through a marked route along just one kilometre that can easily be done on foot. The village has the particularity of having predominantly dark schist construction, apart from the small chapel, the only white and blue building in the village. The village is surrounded by high vegetation and organized by two streets. The surrounding fauna and flora make the village a very popular area for hiking.
Of the schist villages located in Serra da Lousã, Talasnal is the one that is most sought after by tourists. The houses are decorated with branches of vines and the drum and fountain make what the locals call a “melody” that is heard by the sounds of the water running around the village. The village's alleys are probably the highlight of the village, as they awaken visitors' spirit of discovery. Anyone entering through the Talasnal vegetation area will certainly be able to see animals such as deer, roe deer and wild boar, in an area where nature leads. Despite being one of the most touristic villages, it maintains its historical identity. The village is protected by Rede Natura 2000.
In Cerdeira, visitors are welcomed with a small bridge where they can see some houses hidden among vegetation. The village turns out to be an artistic place, as training workshops and creative experiences are held in places like Casa das Artes. Annually, during July, the festival “Elements à Solta – Art meets Nature” takes place, where contemporary artists come together to turn the village into an open-air gallery.
Anyone who sees the village from afar thinks that it will not have the same charm as all the others mentioned above. However, it is necessary to climb steep streets to discover the charm of Candal. The village is located along the road that connects Lousã to Castanheira de Pêra, so it is a village that is used to receiving visitors. Going up the village streets, tourists are presented with a view of the mountains, accompanied by the freshness of Ribeira do Candal. Being next to the road, Candal is perhaps one of the most developed schist villages in the region.
Once the route through the five most visited schist villages is completed, tourists can finish their visit at Alto de Trevim, the highest point in the Serra da Lousã, at an altitude of around 1,200 metres. This is where the most famous wooden swing in Portugal is located. Anyone who swings will fall in love with the magnificent panoramic view over the Lousã mountains.
Also in the region, visitors can enjoy Chanfana. A typical dish of the region is made from goat meat cooked in red wine, garlic and other spices that give the dish a characteristic flavour. At the end of the meal, visitors can enjoy, in the village where it is produced, a glass of Licor Beirão.