You need not pause to gaze on many a wild scene, some beautiful, and even here and there a fertile spot; nor loiter in this provincial town—rich, perhaps, in Moorish ruins, but in nothing else—but hasten onward till you reach that elevated point, where the road, one hundred miles from Lisbon, winds over the ridge of yonder hill. The chilly night winds of the peninsula have gone to sleep. Here, even in midwinter, the sun at this hour shoots down scorching rays upon your head. Seat yourself by the road-side, on this ledge of slate-rock, at the foot of the cork-oak, which so invitingly spreads out its sheltering arms. Here while you take breath, cast your eyes around you.
You are no longer in the midst of broken, desolate wastes. To the south-west rises the Serra d’Ossa—its sides clothed with evergreen oaks, and a dense growth of underbrush sheltering the wolf and the wild boar, while the northern slope of its rocky ridge is thatched with snow. Before you is spread out the valley of the Guadiana. Sloping downward toward the mighty stream, lie pasture, grove and field, gaily mingled together. There, to the east, sits Elvas, on a lofty hill, whose sides are covered with vineyards, oliveyards and orchards, and just north of it, on a yet loftier peak, with a deep narrow valley lying between them, stands the crowning castle of La Lippe, the strongest fortress in Portugal. Far beyond, but plainly seen through the clear atmosphere of the peninsula, now doubly transparent since it has been purified by the heavy rains which here usher in the winter, rises the blue mountain of Albuquerque, far away in Spanish Estremadura. Whichever way you look, Sierras, nearer or more distant, tower above the horizon, or fringe its utmost verge.
Among these scenes of nature’s handiwork, a production of human art demands your attention. See, on your right, the beginning of the ancient aqueduct, reared by Moorish hands, which leads the pure mountain stream for three miles across the valley to the city seated on the hill. Here, the masonry is but a foot or two above the ground; below, the road will lead you under its three tiers of arches, with the water gliding an hundred feet above your head.