Very easy to miss, albeit the twenty or so signposts guiding only the most adventurous amongst us. This rock, well, to simply call it a rock an insult to the shear effort that must have been mustered to stand this 2.5m megalithic masterpiece into place.
A lot of you may be thinking, “this is no Stonehenge”, and I’d have to agree. That being said, what this stone offers is a rare glimpse to a bygone era, when it wasn’t a Whatsapp call, Instagram post or right swipe Tinder that brought us together. These menhirs/orthostates/liths (or standing stones to the laymen amongst us), are as mysterious as they are random (because yes, this is random, why is this even a thing?).
Even with the world’s technology at our very fingertips, little is known of its purpose or reason. Antiquarians debate whether they were territorial markers, early calendars, mnemonic systems for oral cultures, or are they simply religious sites for pagan rituals such as human sacrifice? They can also be interpreted as landmarks and/or as an observation point for the stars, combining aspects closely linked to soil exploration and fertility (marked by the phallic character of these monoliths), on which these increasingly sedentary societies increasingly depended.
Whilst I stare at this proverbial middle finger, I begin to question the very nature of my being, “Why am I here?” and “Will anywhere be the same again?” These are a few of the thoughts and emotions generated by this unknown, one imagines it similar to star gazing or watching paint dry, I feel bold enough to call it the marmite of landmarks, I imagine plenty of people enjoying a picnic in its shadow, whilst others simply question their life choices that led them to this place.
Now, wether I recommend it to visitors, depends on your imagination I guess, if you are content with the smell of eucalyptus, an incredible nearby view and some unexplained carved granite by all means add it your GPS. I feel it belongs within a more elaborated planned trip and serves as a perfect segue in a larger tourism context. https://www.cm-penafiel.pt/visitar-penafiel/