About 10 km from the Herdade begins a region of 50 x 10 km where marble is at surface level. Its quality was recognized by the Romans and is still highly valued, including by sculptors. Generally the colour is whitish with a flare of rose or almond. Small crystals give it a lively appearance, even after polishing. You can collect marble for free around the quarries. But also worth, and sometimes breathtaking is to visit the marble quarries. Of the 400 marble quarries 350 are abandoned. In some cases they leave behind a desolate hole surrounded by rusty mining equipment, but others have an incredible beauty due to their unique shape, colour and silence, and the memory of greatness. Especially the few with a lake inside are highly attractive. Both the active and abandoned quarries can be visited on your own.
Many artists are interested in marble. Some just for sculpting, others to set the scene for photo shoots, or to analyze the industrial landscape. Several residencies resulted in a theatrical event in a quarry, some informal and some others in public theatrical performances. The slide show on this page gives an impression.
Foundation OBRAS has another website that is focusing specifically on artists and their marble related projects. Have a look:
»»» Art & Marble «««.
Some years ago OBRAS proposed to upgrade one of the abandoned marble quarries near to the centre of Estremoz towards a thematic park and use it for several purposes: culture, education, information and leisure. The proposal was ranked as the best in a competition for regional development projects. But its novelty and the crisis made it un-realisable, at least for the time being. It is waiting for the right moment to be launched.