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Castanheira de Pera

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The main attraction of the county are the Serra da Lousã mountains, with their vast and diversified sceneries where several belvederes offer wonderful views over the woods of Buçaco and the Atlantic Ocean and of the heights of Gardunha, Caramulo and Gralheira.

The small chapel of Saint Anthony of the Snow rises at about 1200 metres; nearby, visitors will find three wells of the ancient Royal Ice-Houses, covered by vaults built with the region's dark stone and from where ice was sent to the Court in Lisbon.

Snow was stored during Winter at the bottom of the wells by men who went down wood ladders, and the blocks of ice, wrapped in straw or sackcloth, were taken to the capital in Summer.

At the lower slopes of the mountains, on the way to the valley of the river Zêzere, the clear waters of the Pêra stream form cascades and small natural pools abundant in trout.

The seat of the county knew an important development in the 19th century due to the wool industry and the old town displays several interesting houses with neo-Gothic windows and pretty balconies of wrought-iron.

It is worth visiting the 18th-century Mother Church, with an altar in gilded woodwork, hand-painted tiles and a great staircase on the sober façade, and the picturesque alleys and narrow streets leading to the centre of Castanheira de Pera.

At table, the local gastronomy offers traditional specialities such as roast kid or trout in vinegar sauce.

Handicrafts include the typical caps of Sarnadas, once used by the ice-collectors to protect themselves from the cold and which have become a sort of symbol of the county, and also dolls in cloth and different works in wood.

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