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The people tells that the name Serra da Estrela was chosen long time ago by a shepherd who lived somewhere in Mondego Valley. He used to spend the nights admiring a star that was so shiny that lightened the top of a near mountain. A time came up that he decided to go, together with his faithful dog, and meet that scintillating light, which attracted him so much. After many days climbing they got to the summit. Impressed with the light of the star, he said to his dog: "I will name this place, that seems to be loved by the stars, Serra da Estrela and you, who were always by my side, I will name you the same way."

Serra da Estrela rocky massif corresponds to the Portuguese highest mountain, where is located the highest spot in Continental Portugal - Torre at 1993 metres. This rocky massif composes the Natural Park of Serra da Estrela established in July 1976, embracing several municipalities. At the greatest massif of the central cordillera a huge plateau appears torn by valleys where the rivers that are born here run, Mondego, Zêzere and Alva.

U-shaped valleys, covões and glacial lakes are the signs of the strong ice action during the quaternary era in this region.

We can see a bit of everything in this great Serra: isolated places between pastures and rye-fields, populations like Loriga and Alvoca placed at a great height on rocky sharp points, fertile maize-fields and vineyards, and places where just the genista grows.

The populating of Serra da Estrela occurred since the Middle Ages started at the foot. But we can find vestiges from other epochs. The Romans built a road that connected Mérida to Braga; the Arabians left the irrigation systems and the fruit-trees culture; the Visigoths left the organisation of the rural land through the "Visigothic Code".

Nowadays, all over Serra da Estrela people practise a mountain economy based on agriculture, tending flocks of sheep and making Serra da Estrela cheese. Tourism is an important resource because Serra da Estrela slopes attract skiers in wintertime and Nature lovers in summertime.

Area: 101 060 hectares;
Municipalities: Covilhã, Celorico da Beira, Gouveia, Guarda, Manteigas and Seia;
Fauna: The fauna is diversified. The most emblematic specie is the bear already gone. The woof appears only now and then. The rare Iberian rock lizard finds here its favourite place not appearing in any other region in the country. The otter, the civet-cat, the badger, wildcats and water-moles are other species that can be found here;
Flora: Flora is also very diversified. You can see here the quercus pyrenaica, the scarlet-oak, the cork-oak, the arbutus-tree, the wild pine-tree, the stone pine, the genista, the orchids, the juniper and the honeysuckle among several other species.

Penhas da Saúde is a tourism resort at 1500 m of altitude. It is excellent for resting due to its fresh air and healthy environment.

The highest spot in Serra da Estrela - Torre - offers conditions to the winter sports lovers. There are more and more people at the ski tracks, on the sledges or on the snowboards.


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