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  • Almeida Fernandes

Alentejo and its architecture

Architects today have the ability to unite this dual function, technical in design and artistical in the ability to make the past and the present coexist peacefully, and mutually enhance each other. Alentejo today remains traditional and remains whitewashed with its dots of color.





The southern region of Portugal, namely the Alentejo, has several points of interest such as the cities of Elvas and Évora, which are part of the UNESCO world heritage. But it is not just the cities that enchant, but also the small lands, towns and villages on the coast and countryside, with the typical houses of the region that characterize the landscape so much.


The presence of the Arab peoples in the Iberian Peninsula from the year 710 onwards left deep marks in Portugal, ranging from culture to gastronomy and from music to architecture. Even today, particularly in the south of Portugal, we can see landmarks of Arab culture in the construction. But later, with the arrival of the Romans, their influence is also noticeable, with the colored moldings on the baseboards, doors and windows of the houses.


From the construction point of view, the typical Alentejo house usually only has a ground floor, and are made with rammed earth or bricks and shapes can vary. The walls are usually thick and the windows are strategically placed, so that the house stays cool on the hot days of the Alentejo summer, but also so that the interior environment is warm in the winter. They are, therefore, traditionally houses with little natural light.


The facades comply with all the same lines, whitewashed, with doors, windows and baseboards surrounded by bright colors - such as the traditional Blue, Yellow or Dark Red. The choice of these colors and their location serves the specific purpose of preventing small insects and crawling animals from entering the house.


Another prominent element in Alentejo houses are the chimneys. If in the Algarve we can see them round and more decorated, very marked by the inspiration in the arabesque decoration; in the Alentejo, chimneys are square or rectangular and the top may have a simple bar above the smoke exhaust and, if there are decorations, they will be simple, with designs generally triangular.


The interiors of Alentejo houses are traditionally simple, with few internal divisions also for maintaining temperatures. The entrance is usually directly through the kitchen or to an enlarged common area.


Currently, Alentejo houses still exist in this traditional format, with many places living in this type of housing. Even so, there has been a lot of new construction, which lives from this legacy and traditional culture that unites what is Portuguese with its history, with the artistic inspiration of today's architect. After so many years, it is perfectly possible to have a house with a current design, a recent type of construction and to have traditional icons and characteristics, marrying tradition with the present.


Architects today have the ability to unite this dual function, technical in design and artistical in the ability to make the past and the present coexist peacefully, and mutually enhance each other. Alentejo today remains traditional and remains whitewashed with its dots of color. The Alentejo today also remains current, accompanying the world we live in, and a good architect works magic for a house perfectly framed in this traditional Portuguese region.