We are now 70km above Lisbon and this article covers from 70km North – west of the Tagus to 140km north west right up to Tomar through the national road via Vale de Figueira, Pombalinho, Azinhaga towards Golega and from Golega along the Tagus river towards Contstancia. A route we find very interesting and we hope you do too.In Azinhaga we find Jose Saramago, one of Portugal’s most famous writers.
Leaving Santarem in the direction north on the west side of the Tagus You’ll pass through beautiful villages such as Pombalinho and past the appealing capella S. Joã de Ventosa from 1755 and the impressive Palacio – Quinta da Broa in the direction to Golega, our first stop is Azinhaga.
Azinhaga is the home town of the famous Noble price wining writer Jose Saramago and in the centre of the village you’ll find a, bigger than life size statue, commemorating this fact.
Saramago was of simple background and he spent much of his youth in Azinhaga. His urge to write was so big that against all odds he followed his instinct and became a fascinating 20th century thinker and a literary genius.
When his grandfather died, he hugged all the trees in his grandparents backyard realizing he would never return to Azinhaga and he never did. After writing the famous book The Gospel According to Jesus Christ he was forced to leave Portugal, Saramago is generally seen as one of greatest Portuguese writers of his generation and his humble beginnings where in the quiet old town of Azinhaga.
When I got further into the village I realized how proud the people are of Jose Saramago, the writer who was once a child of poor background from this small rural village and I learned about his grandparents who couldn’t read or write but saw how they will live an eternity in the black and white photos on the walls of a tiny museum for Saramago in Azinhaga.
When Saramago received the Noble price of literature, in his opening sentence he proclaimed that the person most intelligent he knew and most influential in his live was exactly that man who couldn’t read or write…….. his grandfather.
Saramago was of the rare kind that floats above life, political opinions, culture, religion and his ‘society defined background’. A great writer, a great person, a great philosopher that rightfully should only make Portugal and the Portuguese proud.
“The child, unnoticed, had already put out tendrils and sent down roots, and there had been time for that fragile child-seed to place his tiny, unsteady feet on the muddy ground and to receive from it the indelible mark of the earth, that shifting backdrop to the vast ocean of air, of that clay, now dry, now wet, composed of vegetable and animal remains, of detritus left behind by everything and everyone, crushed and pulverized rocks, multiple, kaleidoscopic substances that passed through life and to life returned, just like the suns and the moons, times of flood and drought, cold weather and hot, wind and no wind, sorrows and joys, the living and the not. Only I knew, without knowing I did, that on the illegible pages of destiny and in the blind meanderings of chance it had been written that I would one day return to Azinhaga to finish being born.”
He may never have psychically returned to Azinhaga but for me, somehow he did return and he finished being born in Azinhaga.
What struck me most in Azinhaga, was the tiny ‘museum’ for Saramago which people had to point us to because there was no shield, nothing to point us in the right direction no announcement above the door or on the façade.
The people in Azinhaga are still so authentic. A very old woman with very cold winter hands, took my arm, wanted to hug me as she talked, with great energy, about the village. About the rich count who has ‘muito dinheiro’ (much money) and owns a great part of the village and how he now rents rooms to tourists.
In Azinhaga you’ll find the peaceful and serene perfect hide away hotel for weekends, holidays and mainly Horse riding pleasures on the ground and by the river at the Solar do Espirito Santo hotel, read more about it in this topic or reserve on our site