A profile of Alandroal showing the parochial church and low-lying buildings
|Intermunic. comm.||Alentejo Central|
|o President||João Maria Aranha Grilo (MUDA Movimento Unidade e Desenvolvimento de Alandroal)|
|o Total||542.68 km2 (209.53 sq mi)|
|Elevation||341 m (1,119 ft)|
|o Density||11/km2 (28/sq mi)|
|Time zone||WET/WEST (UTC+0/+1)|
|Patron||Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova|
Alandroal (Portuguese pronunciation: [?ld?u'a?]) is a municipality in the Portuguese district of Évora located on the eastern frontier with Spain along the right margin of the Guadiana River in the Central Alentejo region. It is located 341 metres (1,119 ft) above sea level, northeast of Évora and southeast of Estremoz. The population in 2011 was 5,843, in an area of 542.68 km².
With the completion of the castle in 1298, by Lourenço Afonso (9th Master of the Order of Aviz), the noble fulfilled his obligation to King Denis of Portugal to expand the territory that would form Alandroal. By 1359, the church of Alandroal was incorporated under the commander of the Order of Avis, but it was only a century later (1486) that John II would issue a foral (charter) for the town. Alandroal was elevated to town at this time, while only including the parish of Nossa Senhora da Conceição. A second foral was conceded in 1514 by his successor, Manuel I of Portugal.
Alandroal's historic importance include the medieval structures during the early period of Christian conquest, including the Castle of Alandroal (whose main gate was flanked by two towers); the Castle of Terena, consisting of wall-enclosed courtyard, keep and towers; the fortress of Juromenha, whose balusters were constructed later during the Portuguese Restoration War, but whose proximity to the Guadiana frontier provided a natural buttress to Castilian influence in the region.
The lands at the time, flowered with Nerium oleander shrubs and trees, whose wood was used by local artisans. Its Portuguese toponomy oleandro gave rise to the name aloendros or alandros, eventually alandroal.
The sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Assunção da Boa Nova, apart from its religious importance, is of national importance. In 1340, the Moors had invaded from Andaluzia, resulting in an alliance between Alfonso XI of Castile and his father-in-law, Afonso IV of Portugal, that culminated in the Battle of Río Salado. In honor of their assistance during the Marinid invasion, Maria of Portugal, Queen of Castile ordered the construction of the Gothic church to commemorate their victory.
In the 16th century the old Gothic church was substituted but the current parochial church in Alandroal. At the same time, the hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Neves, in the older lands of Mata, then known as Nossa Senhora das Hervas, received annual festivals on 5 August. Similarly, the brotherhood of the Misercórdia was probably established this century, constructing the primitive temple for those religious services.
On 14 January 1659, a gunpowder warehouse exploded, causing the deaths of various residents, but primarily university students from Évora (under the authority of Father Francisco Soares), who were dispatched to Alandroal while the main Portuguese army fought in the Battle of the Lines of Elvas.
By the second half of the 18th century, a decision of the Council of State to King Joseph I permitted the construction of a new municipal building for Alandroal, for which were acquired furniture from local and awnings for the market.
During the 19th Century territories of the older municipalities of Terena and Juromenha where annexed to Alandroal. The community of Villarreal, situated in the municipality of Olivença was once a part of the antique administration of Juromenha.
The municipality is delimited in the north by Vila Viçosa, east by the Guadiana River and Spanish border, south by Mourão and Reguengos de Monsaraz, and west by the municipality of Redondo. Alandroal is one of three towns defined within the municipality of the same name, and includes the vilas of Terena and Juromenha.
The morphology of Alandroal is marked by a gently rolling relief with a minimum of 500 metres (1,600 ft) altitude, with exceptions to this including Patinhas, 351 metres (1,152 ft) and Castelo mountain 638 metres (2,093 ft). The Alqueva Dam, along the Guadiana River, is located in this territory, with major confluences including the Ribeira de Alcalate and Ribeira do Alandroal just the principal water resources.
The climate of Alandroal is a markedly Mediterranean temperament, characterized by a dry climate that is accentuated in the summer. Precipitation in the region hovers between 500 millimetres (20 in) between October and March, and 170 millimetres (6.7 in), during the dry season, which is irregular.
The municipality covers approximately 544.86 square kilometres (210.37 sq mi) and has 6585 inhabitants (based on the 2001 census).
The city of Alandroal is one of three towns in the municipality, along with Terena and Juromenha.
The municipality's economic activities are connected to the primary and secondary sectors primarily. Agriculture continues to be important, with the cultivation of cereals, foraging and industrial plants, such as olive orchards dominating the rural landscape. The raising of livestock, namely poultry, swine and cattle, also draws on local resources, while 36.3% (or 1711 hectares) of the territory is covered in forests, allowing a nascent saw-milling and carpentry industry.
Popular and religious festivals in the municipality include the annual pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova in Terena, during the Easter Sunday; the fair of São Bento, on 15 April; and the fair in Juromenha, on 10 August.
Local artisans are also proficient in working with cork, nerium woods and schist stone.