Antas do Herdade de Água Doce

Also known as: Anta de Vale Beiró & Antas (Grande & Pequeno) de Caminho da Fanica

Driving along the N2, Portugal’s iconic “National Road #2,” you experience the richness of the country’s geography and history. Driving along the long stretches of Alentejo countryside, you might be tempted to speed up and get to the next town. But you might miss hidden treasures! At km 496, a stop will be worth your while: just to the left (on the east side of the road) is the Anta de Vale Beiró (#1 in the Água Doce complex). Just up the road lie the two Caminho da Fanica antas on either side of the road. Any traveller who takes the time to stop and visit these 5,000 year old man-made structures will be well rewarded with stretched legs and a stretched sense of the human experience!

These three antas (or dolmens) are all within sight of each other, with the N2 National Highway 2 running right past (between) them. They are collectively referred to as megaliths of Água Doce (the name of the local homestead & hill). Individually, anta 1 is known as Anta de Vale Beiró, anta 2 is known as Anta Grande (large) de Caminho da Fanica, and anta 3 is known as Anta Pequena (small) de Caminho da Fanica. They are part of the Megalithic Route of Coruche, a municipality in the Santarém district, but they are geographically located as part of what is referred to as the “Évora megalithic universe” as they lie on a kind of peninsula or pedicle of the Santarém district that intrudes into the Évora district.

The Água Doce route is made up of three dolmens, each having polygonal chambers with seven upright pillars and corridors leading to the easte.

They were excavated in 1931 by Manuel Heleno, of which the Anta de Vale Beiró provided the most rich and various artefacts of the group: a total of 204 pieces, both complete and fragmented. They are from the 3rd millennium BC.

Museum of Coruche, “Caminhos de terra, Construções em pedra”

Anta 1 de Herdade de Água Doce: Anta de Vale Beiró

This anta has a diameter of around 2.5m and it stands 2.7m high. Five of its 7 upright pillars are remaining in place, with remnants of a corridor extending about 2.4m to the east. Traces of the mamoa (tumulus or mound) can be identified, which “could have been covered by blocks of granite and milky quartz, with the aim of highlighting the monument in the landscape.1” When excavated, a very large number of artefacts were found. Many schist plaques, as well as a sandstone plaque, were found, along with other votive offerings. Many complete pottery vases, as well as stone beads and pendants, were found along with axes and other stone tools.

Anta 2: Anta Grande de Caminho da Fanica

This is a large anta: about 3.50 m in diameter and 2.40 m in height. It’s also formed by seven pillars (five of the which are preserved) without traces of the large covering slab. The corridor, facing east (measuring around 2.20 m long), had two slabs on the north side and three on the south side. “On the outside, traces of the mamoa can be identified, which would be of considerable size, standing out in the landscape.”

Anta 3: Anta Pequena de Caminho da Fanica

This is the smallest anta in the group: about 2m in diameter and 1.25 m high. Like its neighbours, it was formed by seven pillars (four of which are very inclined towards the interior) and a large roof slab. The corridor, facing east, measuring around 1.80 m in length, had a stone “door” which can be seen in front of the remaining corridor stones. On the outside, the remains of the mamoa are almost imperceptible. Only a few stone tools were found when it was excavated in the 1930s.


The group of antas is on the south-western edge of the Santarém district (on a thin strip of Santarém land protruding into the Évora district), in the municipality of Coruche, parish of Couço. The three are all beside the N2 highway, on either side.


All three antas are easily viewable from the roadside. The gates to the Anta de Vale Beiró and Anta Pequena de Caminho de Fanica are both unlocked, so it’s easy to walk around them. The Anta Grande de Caminho da Fanica is further removed from the road, and there are no gates in the fence between it and the road. It’s easy to park beside the Anta de Vale Beiró (where there’s an information sign), from there it’s 300m along the road to the other two antas.


There are no road signs, but there is a big information board along the fence on the east side of the N2, where a dirt track exits the road and goes through a gate. (The Anta de Vale Beiró is about 10m to the right of the sign.) It’s about 3.7km north of Ciborro, on the right side of the road, or about 7.1km south of Brotas, on the left.



There are prehistoric sites all around! The nearest and easiest to get to are in São Geraldo, to the south. Mora, to the north, hosts the Interactive Megalithic Museum with information about many sites in the region. There is also a cromeleque, Alto da Cruz, off the road on the way to Mora.

  1. All descriptions of the antas are translated from the Portal do Arquólogio: ↩︎

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