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Founded by the Knights of Avis in 1298, the little town of Alandroal spreads around the ruins of its castle, dominated by the tall keep.

The Mother Church, within the castle walls, dates from the 16th century and the nearby Miserichord Church has beautiful 17th-century tiles.

At about ten kilometres south, the former seat of the county, Terena, rises on top of a hill and its narrow streets and neat houses surround the castle and the Mother Church.

On the plain, the 14th-century Chapel of Our Lady of the Good News exhibits splendid frescoes dating from 1706 on the walls and ceiling, portraying saints and Portuguese kings.

Terena is well known for its pottery, but the county's crafts include objects in cork, wood, leather and horn, traditionally made by shepherds to be used in domestic life but now threatened by industrialization and the invasion of plastic.

As for the gastronomy, savoury Alentejo dishes such as cozido de grão (pork and chickpea stew) and sopa de cação (dog-fish soup) can be found at Alandroal, and the visitor is hardly ever disappointed.

Bread is used, across the Alentejo, not only as a snack but to soak up the delicious juices of stews in which garlic, coriander and olive oil play an essential part.

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