Almendres Cromlech, Portugal

Almendres Cromlech: The Twin Megalithic Stone Circles of Portugal

Located on the slopes of the Monte dos Almendres in Portugal, is the ancient megalithic site of Almendres Cromlech, also popularly known as the ‘hill of the stone amphorae’. The stunningly well-preserved site is the most important megalithic arrangement in Portugal and is also believed to be one of the oldest stone circles in Europe.

Almendres Cromlech, known locally as Cromeleque Dos Almendres, is located close to the city of Évora in the Alentejo region of Portugal.  Despite being just a short distance from Évora, transport to the site is difficult, making it an unpopular destination for tourists.  Consequently, this special site remains free and open at all times. No fences or ropes keep visitors back, and it is possible to freely wander around the site and even touch the stones, a rare experience for such an historically important place.

Almedres Cromlech, Portugal

Almedres Cromlech, Portugal (Wikimedia Commons)

Twin circles

Yet, Almendres Cromlech is not just any megalithic site. Consisting of over 90 granite standing stones, Almendres Cromlech is the largest megalithic site in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe as well. The stones are arranged in two ‘twin’ circles. The ring to the east is circular in shape, and the smaller of the two. It contains the oldest stones, which have been dated to the Early Neolithic period (6000 B.C.). The ring to the west, on the other hand, is elliptical in shape, and is believed to have been built during the Middle Neolithic period (5000 B.C.).

The stone circle of Almendres Cromlech, Portugal

The stone circle of Almendres Cromlech, Portugal (Wikimedia Commons)

Ancient astronomical observatory

It is believed that around 3000 BC, many of the stones were repositioned to align with the celestial bodies – the sun, moon, and stars. Therefore, it has been speculated that Almendres Cromlech may have functioned as a sort of astronomical observatory. For instance, if a line were to be plotted from the solitary Menhir of Almendres (a single granite monolith rising to a height of around 4.5 m) to the centre of the Almendres Cromlech, it would point towards the sunrise on the Winter solstice.

The Menhir of Almendres

The Menhir of Almendres (Wikimedia Commons)

Ceremonial site

Others have speculated that the site had some ritual or religious significance for those living around it. This may be supported by the engravings found on some of the stones at Almendres Cromlech. Stone 56, for instance, is recorded as having a depiction of a human face, and is considered to be a menhir statue. It has been suggested that the statues might be a representation of an ancient god or deity. Some people today still regard the site as ritually or religiously important, and are known to practise their form of belief at the site.

Engravings on one of the megalithic stones

Engravings on one of the megalithic stones (Wikimedia Commons)

Nevertheless, like many other such sites, the exact function of Almendres Cromlech is still a mystery, and will probably continue to puzzle us for some time to come. Moreover, this site entered the knowledge of modern humans only relatively recently, as it was re-discovered only in the 20th century.

Over the millennia since they were erected, the stones became neglected, many of them toppling over and sunk into the ground. It was only in the 1960s that a geologist, Henrique Leonor Pina, stumbled upon the site whilst conducting fieldwork in the area. Following extensive excavations to reveal the site, the stones were unearthed and reset in their proper positions. There is probably still much more that archaeologists can learn from this interesting prehistoric site. Furthermore, given the fact that there are not many tourists visiting the site, it is hoped that Almendres Cromlech, unlike many other ancient sites, will retain its present character.     

Featured image: Almendres Cromlech, Portugal. Armando Frazão |

By Ḏḥwty


BBC, 2014. Stonehenge visitors 'break record'. [Online]
Available at:

Eveleth, R., 2014. Stonehenge Visitors Used To Be Handed Chisels to Take Home Souvenirs. [Online]
Available at:, 2015. Almendres Cromlech, Evora Portugal. [Online]
Available at:, 2015. Almendres Cromlech. [Online]
Available at:

Lucas, P., 2014. Almendres Stone Rows, Portugal. [Online]
Available at:

Page, H., 2015. The Mysterious Cromlech of Almendres. [Online]
Available at:

Travel in Portugal, 2015. Almendres Cromlech. [Online]
Available at:, 2015. Almendres Cromlech, Evora. [Online]
Available at:


I'm missing the face image on the menhir. All i see are 2 circles (1 partial) and a crack.

Could someone explain how it is estimated that these circles represent a face?

Hello! The circles intend to represent the eyes, so do archaeologists say.
You might be also interested in getting to know better the ancient megalithic culture in southern Portugal. We provide you with ideas for alternative tours for you to plan your own tailor-made trips to these interesting sites. Have more information at the Alternative Tours here!evora-day-tours/c1u20

Brilliant article. Well researched.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

A Greek amphora showing athletes, 4th century BC. ©Trustees of the British Museum.
Every two years, when the Winter or Summer Olympics comes around, we hear about how the games staged at Olympia in Greece since 776 BC came to a sudden end in the late fourth century AD. The finger is pointed at the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius I (AD 379-395)

Myths & Legends

An illustration of Vasilisa the Beautiful, by Ivan Bilibin.
[…] In the evening the girl laid the table and began waiting for Baba-Yaga. It grew dark. The black horseman swept by and it was night. The skulls’ eyes began to shine. The trees creaked, the dead leaves crunched, the earth trembled, and there was Baba-Yaga…

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

Mammoth in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria (Canada). The display is from 1979, and the fur is musk ox hair.
In Sivershchina, close to the village of Mizyn in Ukraine is one of the oldest and most unique settlements of humans – and it was discovered in a parking lot. The now well-known archaeological site, known plainly as the Mizyn parking lot, dates back 18-20 thousand years.

Ancient Places

The highly-decorated tomb is built in a distinctive ‘L’ shape
A mysterious ancient tomb with “unusual and rare” wall paintings has been discovered in Egypt. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told BBC reporters the discovery of a 4,400-year-old tomb found during excavation work in Giza’s western cemetery “likely belonged to Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, the goddess of fertility, who assisted women in childbirth.”

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article