Probably one of the only upsides to the whole Covid-19 debacle is that people all around the world have started to exchange the holiday plane ticket for a car or train ride, which not only the environment vehemently enjoyed but it also meant that we all had a great chance to explore the beauty of the country we live in.
Piodão immediately caught my attention when I came across it while mindlessly scrolling through the internet. The village, which is almost entirely built out of schist, perfectly blends into the picturesque mountainside of Serra do Açor.
It was built around the 14th century and until the 1970s it was only possible to access the village on foot or by horse making it one of the most remote places in Portugal. Walking up the steep and narrow schist cobbled alleys, past the schist houses with the schist tiled roofs you will notice that almost all of them have doorways that are... you guessed it; blue. Of course this made historians rather curious as to why the majority of the doors were painted blue and it was later discovered that the reason for that was quite a simple one. They only had one shop in the village and that shop only sold the colour blue.
Only 4 kilometres from the village you can find a place called Foz d’Égua, which is an even smaller village than Piodão but also almost entirely built of schist and without doubt worth the walk. There are a few abandoned houses and mills, some schist and wooden bridges and even an altar with a nativity scene at the top of the village. But the main attraction of Foz d’Égua is the river that flows through it, which has crystal clear water and gives the place a unique magical feel that is often compared to the hobbit village in Lord of the Rings.
Due to the fact that Piodão was so remote there is only very few mentions of it in history, however it is said to have been used by fugitives to escape justice and the most famous case of that was probably the murderer of Inês de Castro who fled the fury of Prince Pedro I.
Prince Pedro I, the heir to the Portuguese throne, was married to Constance of Castile but when Inês de Castro came to Portugal in 1340 as the lady-in-waiting, he started to neglect his lawful wife and instead fell in love with Inês.
Pedro’s father, King Afonso IV, was everything but delighted to hear that his son was risking the already strained relation they had with Castile but hoped that with time the problem would solve itself. Well... it did not. Pedro was truly in love and time could not change that.
When Constance of Castile died in 1345 Pedro wanted to marry no one but Inês who was not eligible to be queen. After many failed attempts to keep the two lovebirds apart the King finally had enough and ordered the killing of Inês in 1355. Three men went out to find Inês and then detained and beheaded her in front of her child.
Suffice to say, Pedro was not happy. He tried to revolt against his father who defeated him within a year but died shortly after in 1357. Now King, Pedro wanted revenge and ordered the arrest of the three men that killed Inês.
He also claimed to have married Inês in secret before her passing which made her the lawful Queen of Portugal. After exhuming her body and dressing her in robes and jewels he forced the entire court to swear allegiance and kiss the hand of the newly crowned, dead queen.
Pedro had two tombs made for himself and Inês that are still located in the Monastery of Alcobaça and set up in a way that they face each other with the words “Até o fim do mundo” (until the end of the world) carved into the stone.
In 1361 he finally managed to capture two of Inês’ murderers and after finding them guilty he publically executed them by ripping out their hearts as a metaphor to what they had done to him. Some sources even say that he ate the hearts afterwards.
The third however was never found and legend has it that he escaped to Piodão, a village so remote that even an angry, revenge seeking King wouldn’t find you there.