The Natural Reserve of Sado Estuary, with about 23,000 hectares, is a wetland that develops along the banks of the River Sado, basically from Setúbal to Alcacer do Sal It is an area with very low human occupancy, where agricultural activities, mainly associated with the cultivation of rice and some salt, in areas closer to the river, and the forest and grazing in upland areas not subject the tides. Traditional fishing and harvesting of shellfish are also activities that are developed here and are centralized in some small fishery cores. This is a set of activities seamlessly integrated and compatible with the environment and natural importance of this entire territory, which is well testified by the presence, at different times of the year, of thousands of birds and mammals, distributed for hundreds of species.
The Sado was one of the most important salt production areas in Portugal, having been its landscape strongly dominated by saltpans. It’s particularly favorable conditions for the production of salt enabled the Romans to establish a major fish salting industry in Sado, that Tróia is the most obvious example. Currently there are fewer than a dozen active saltpans, although they continue to have a cultural and symbolic expression of the utmost importance, for what they represented in the economy and history of the region for centuries.
Rice cultivation began in Portugal around 1760, in the area of Comporta, located along the banks of the River Sado. The region of Comporta, and in general the whole region of Vale do Sado, are today as the largest and best rice growing area of the country, this being one of the most important economic activities across the Sado estuary. This culture has suffered in this area, a major expansion by 1950 with the construction of dams “Pego do Altar” and “Vale de Gaio”, whose irrigation canals along the two banks of Sado, began to provide greater amounts of freshwater to culture.
Abul is a place situated on the right bank of the Sado river, where the Phoenicians, in the course of his travels expansion in the Mediterranean and Iberian coast, settled, about the seventh century BC, a village designed to trade with indigenous populations. This trade post occupies the top of a small hill, which was then washed on three sides by the waters of the estuary and is easily accessible by boat and provided with two excellent berths in adjacent bays, and it was dominated the whole estuary allowing the control the maritime movement. This site was later occupied by the Romans who built on the same site several furnaces for production of amphorae for carrying fish salting manufactured in Tróia and Setúbal.
The Mourisca is a space with a total area of about 40 hectares, located next to the location of Faralhão in the Natural Reserve of Sado Estuary. It is a property specially prepared for the development of actions as environmental and nature conservation, where we can find several ecological systems (marshes, rice fields, forest, agricultural area, sea salt), coexisting with some elements of the built heritage. It stands out for its uniqueness, a tide mill, one of the four tides mills that have existed in the Sado Estuary and a small wooden harbour for traditional fishing boats. This is a very interesting local for nature lovers, who can, there, develop various activities (hiking, bird watching, guided tours, etc.).
Carrasqueira is a village consisting of the largest fishing community existing in the Sado Estuary, which is associated with its port, completely made of wood, the largest in the country in this genre. Buried in the mud, piles of wood and sustain a precarious labyrinthine network access to individual moorings, constituting a particularly curious and interesting set. The typical thatched cottages, characteristics of this region, are still an element that marks the landscape and which show a predominant type of housing in the area for less than a century. It is a place much visited and appreciated not only for their cultural traits most obvious, but also for a much appreciated food where you can find the best dishes based on seafood products, the Alentejo cuisine and traditional sweets of the region.
Comporta, located in the south of Tróia peninsula, is an area dominated by the diversity of contrasting environments, where the forest, agriculture, the Sado river, the ocean and the beaches are the dominant elements of the landscape. The history of Comporta, the largest estate in the region, is closely linked to the beginnings of rice cultivation in Portugal, whose production it is still of major importance. Site with other human occupation of 5000 years, the Comporta is a major tourist destination in the Alentejo coast, due to the tranquility of the surroundings, the beaches, the food, the easy accessibility and the provision of infrastructure and tourist activities.