Casal de São Simão Story

A fistful of stone houses strategically constructed along a small hill peak, surrounded by mountains that protect it from the wind and bathed in brilliant sunshine, a brook in each side - Ribeira de Alge and Ribeira do Fato – and, most of all, the breathtaking view to “Fragas de S. Simão” are the ingredients that give life and form to a very special small village, Casal de S. Simão.
This village was constructed long time ago by men who worked the land all day long to get their daily bread. They had rich vegetable plots on the “Vale da Abundância” (literally abundance valley) bathed by the Fato brook on the west side of the village
Men and women worked their plots side-by-side with their work donkey and ox from sun to sun to get their nourishment.
Sheep and goats pasture peacefully on the green hills and, a little far in the village, chicken flocks could be heard trilling while looking for food along the streets. On the Alge brook, the millstones grind the maize and corn that will be transformed into bread on the ancient firewood stoves.
One day, tired of so much work, men and women started to leave looking for a better life elsewhere and the village, little by little, became lonely and empty. Time just did its work on the abandoned houses which started to fall. The village, once full of life and joy, began to die. It was a ghost village that Anibal Quinta found one day, some years ago. On his usual work travels, he regularly passes the road to Figueiró dos Vinhos and could always see, at a glance, the old village full of sun. He became curious about it and one day he decided to go there and see. He has found an almost desert village. From a total of 21 houses, only 4 were inhabited and the rest was falling apart. But for him, it didn’t matter. He was under the charm spell of the little village. The passion was so strong that he decided to buy one of the houses. He started to rebuild and, full of pride, invited his friends to visit him and the village.
And the spell of Casal de S. Simão spreads amongst the friends that began to buy and rebuilt too. And the friends of friends came and did the same. With the joint efforts of everybody the village was rebuild and Casal de S. Simão had return to the ancient pride and is now full of projects for the future.
An amazing inland river beach on a walk range is one the most appealing points of the surroundings together with the view to “Fragas de S. Simão”. Pedestrian walks have been open and marked, linking Casal de S. Simão to Ferrarias de S. João, another rebuilt schist village nearby, and other pedestrian walks are available around the village.

Refugios de Pedra Association

The owners of almost all houses of Casal de S. Simão formed “Refúgios de Pedra” Association. It has the purpose of preserve the village, the rich environment and also to share all this environmental richness and tradition with everyone who loves nature, preparing the houses and spaces to receive guests who share their love for nature.

Today, Casal de S. Simão is part of “Aldeias do Xisto” (Schist Villages) Program. In the case of Casal de S. Simão, the Municipal intervention which permitted the village to enter the network of “Aldeias do Xisto” was only at the infrastructures level and in the project of the restaurant, store and a multifunctional space, once the houses were already rebuilt. During 2006 the Electricity, telephones and TV cable pre installation was put underground and the Municipality will mount a Hot spot during this year to serve the village with wireless Internet access.
The public light was changed and new antique lamps were mounted.The construction of the restaurant was already approved and will be finished in the first half of 2008. It will have, at the ground Floor a multifunctional space (auditorium), a store for the sale of local products and the Reception of Casal de S. Simão Village. At the first floor there will be the restaurant with panoramic view to the village and surrounding mountains, a bar and an open air café. All this was possible not only due to the passion, work and dedication of all owners and inhabitants but also to the commitment of the Municipality of Figueiró dos Vinhos, to the Região de Turismo do Centro, to the CCDRC (without its help nothing of this would be possible) and, specially, to the help of Eng Armando Carvalho, responsible by the “Aldeias do Xisto” project who had faith on us since the first minute and without his help Casal de S. Simão wouldn’t be on the network today. Actually, Casal de S. Simão have 5 full time residents: an old couple owner of a flock of goats that still produces home made cheese and work on their vegetable plot for daily consumption; an 94 years old lady – "aunt Lucilia", who also still works on his own plot of vegetables; and a young couple of ambient engineers who had choose to live here for pure passion. At the weekends and holidays the village becomes a place full of life, with children's laugh echoing on the streets again and a fistful of friends cherishing the ancient tradition of sharing the work that allowed to revive this village once more.

The Offer

Casal de S. Simão is one of the twenty-three Schist Villages in the “Pinhal Interior” (Central Portugal). Only 170 Kms away from Lisbon, is served by excellent roads (A1, IC8).

Visitors will find a very warm and small village, surrounded by mountains and forests with its own inland river beach, 10 minutes walking from the village.

Nature and outdoor activity lovers have a wide range of choice in what concern outdoor activities – pedestrian walks, biking, escalade, 4x4 tours, bird watching, deer watching in Serra da Lousã, canoeing, river fishing (trout’s), speleological spots, nearby dam’s with nautical sorts available, etc.
At the moment, 4 houses are prepared to receive guests in a total of 12 rooms with facilities (individual or double rooms according to needs).
Maximum capacity: 23 people in 4 houses with all rooms set with individual beds.

Aldeias do Xisto

Rehabilitation Program of the Schist Villages in “Serra da Lousã”
Casal de S. Simão is part of a historic network of 24 Schist Villages, financed by the Municipalities and by European Union aims to restore the memory of long abandoned villages of Lousã mountains. The program had begun reviving the techniques of the slate constructions, which has allowed the restoration of the houses to be done by local workers,
this way recovering the construction traditions.

The restoration of each one of these small villages has followed an architectural plan which included, not only the private houses, but also the public spaces with several functionalities, such as the public wash-houses, agricultural threshing floors, and also the spaces closely connected with the most characteristic in each one of the villages. Infrastructures like water, electricity, telephone and other where installed with the cooperation of the Municipalities aiming to create the conditions to people interested in developing sustainable tourist activities.

Both full and part-time residents had revived the ghost towns and today the Tourism – with accommodations, outdoor activities and sale of local products – is flourishing.
The development of a sustainable strategy that restores both human occupation and promotes a balanced ecosystem, where it is possible to find both the Mediterranean influences and the Atlantic ones is fundamental for tourist industries’ future in the Serra da Lousã. One interesting phenomenon is a small number of visitors who decide to stay and live in the ancient hill towns of central Portugal.