When winter end and spring prepares its arrival in the first months of the year, the landscape is dressed in white. And more and more people join the big almond blossom festival.
A route in the north and one in the south, which through historic villages and authentic places, transport visitors on an unforgettable journey.
Two regions in Portugal are nowadays known to take advantage of the Route of the almond trees: the Northeast Trás-os-Montes and the Algarve.
In the Northeast, at the end of winter (especially in the months of February and March) the white tone of the almond blossom blends with the green and brown tones of the landscape.
At this time, the region also promotes the “Festival of Almond Blossom”. In addition to a program of cultural and recreational activities, there is a Craft Fair, where you can also taste the local cuisine.
There is the opportunity to taste the covered almonds, one of the regional specialties, especially if you have the chance to watch the original ritual of its making. The almonds are toasted, over a low heat, in a large copper bowl where the confectioners, with their fingers protected by thimbles, patiently pour sugar and roll the almonds for several hours. There are three types of almonds: with white sugar (“pointed almond”), covered with chocolate and cinnamon (“dark almond”) or covered with a very thin layer of sugar (“peladinha almond”).
In the south of Portugal, foreshadowing the arrival of spring, the almond blossom covers the Algarve in white, in a stunning and unforgettable spectacle.
A fragile, pink and white mantle that stretches through the lands of the barrocal over the orchards of the Algarve interior, where many villages preserve the names of Arabic origin.
But how did almond trees arrive in Portugal? The explanation comes from an old and romantic legend.
Many, many centuries ago, before Portugal existed and when Al-Gharb belonged to the Arabs, the famous and young king Ibn-Almundim, who had never known defeat, reigned in Chelb, the future Silves. One day, among the prisoners of a battle, he saw the beautiful Gilda, a blonde princess with blue eyes and a proud bearing. Impressed, the Moorish king gave her the freedom, gradually gained her trust and one day confessed his love to her and asked her to be his wife. They were happy for a while, but one day the beautiful princess of the North fell ill for no apparent reason. An old captive from the northern lands asked to be received by the desperate king and revealed to him that the princess suffered from nostalgia for the snow of her distant country. The solution was within the reach of the Moorish king, as it would be enough to have many almond trees planted throughout his kingdom, which when the white flowers bloomed would give the princess the illusion of snow and she would be cured of her illness. The following spring, the king took Gilda to the castle’s terrace window and the princess felt her strength returning when she saw that indescribable vision of the white flowers that stretched out before her. The Moorish king and princess lived long years of intense love, anxiously awaiting, year after year, the spring that brought the wonderful spectacle of almond blossom.