The Zêzere River is known as the “rebellious river” due to its irregular course. Follow it on an adventure. Along the way, we also discover the beauty of the region of the Historic Villages of Portugal.

Following the Zêzere River is an unforgettable experience. From the Historic Village of Belmonte to Manteigas to the source of the Zêzere at the Torre (Tower), this road trip takes us through the impressive central highlands of the Serra da Estrela, which is a part of the region of the Historic Villages of Portugal. No one should miss out on this adventure through the magical colors of the massive forests along the valley slopes.

We embark on this trip in Belmonte. The Zêzere River is also near the center of this Historic Village. Before following the flow of the “rebellious river,” Belmonte is worth a visit first, where the country’s largest Jewish community lived in secret during centuries. In 1496, the king Dom Manuel I of Portugal ordered the expulsion of all Jews who had not accepted to convert to Catholicism and began persecuting them. In Belmonte, many families accepted the conversion – but only before society’s eyes. Within the four walls of their homes, they continued to practice their religion. Therefore, we suggest visiting the Jewish Museum to understand Belmonte’s History well. Belmonte is also the place where Pedro Álvares Cabral, one of the most celebrated navigators of the Portuguese Discoveries, was born. Today, we can visit the Museum of Discovery in Belmonte, which was the Cabral family’s home.

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To reach the source of the Zêzere River, after Belmonte, we get on the EN232 towards the Tower, where we follow the river’s flow. This route takes us through the striking landscapes of the Serra da Estrela and beautiful locations that we take the time to visit depending on the time we have: Valhelhas, Vale de Amoreira, Sameiro, and Manteigas.

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The Centro Interpretativo do Vale Glaciar do Zêzere is a worth a visit in this village. It is the most important and exuberant testament to the last glacial period – the Würm glaciation between 100,000 and 10,000 B.C. – which gives the Serra da Estrela its form and dimension, namely its topography. The valley also has important flora and fauna worth knowing, which is the reason for a series of 16 pedestrian trails (Green Tracks) with almost 200 kilometers. This interpretive center also offers a tempting virtual tour where we embark on a hot air balloon that transports us through the 13 kilometers of the glacial valley.

At the Torre – the highest point in Continental Portugal at 1,993 meters – and the final destination of our adventure, we find the source of the Zêzere River.

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Following the Zêzere River is surely an unforgettable experience to a unique destination in Portugal. After all, the Historic Villages of Portugal are the first destination in a series at the global level and the first national destination to receive BIOSPHERE DESTINATION certification.