Well of Hell

poço do inferno1Even if Halloween is not a tradition in Portugal there are more and more people celebrating it every year.

Let’s face it: it’s a good excuse for kids to dress up as something scary and to gather friends and family for some fun. We do have something that very vaguely reminds me of going door to door saying “trick or treat”: in villages, towns (and sometimes even in cities, in more quiet neighbourhoods) on the 1st of November kids go knocking on doors with a bag in hand asking for “pão por Deus”, which literally means “bread in the name of God” – no one expects to get bread, though: kids usually get candy, cakes, and money (from their families).

Apparently this began right after the major earthquake of 1755. However, knowing a thing or two about the way pre-Christian and Christian traditions have mingled in Portugal, I do have to say I have my doubts. And although I don’t have a scary story to tell you I can show you a place with a spooky name. 

After some time of living and/or travelling in Portugal you’ll notice that a lot of places have strange/ curious/ bizarre names. Usually they’re some kind of geological formation or some place associated with a legend. Today I’m bringing you Poço do Inferno, aka, the Well of Hell or Inferno Well, depending on the translation you prefer.

poço do inferno3Located in Serra da Estrela, this 10 meter long waterfall offers a spectacular view all year round. There’s nothing spooky about it though, except for the name. You can also hike there – there’s even a specific route you can follow.

poço do inferno4A lot of people go to Serra da Estrela only for the snow, but this spot is well worth looking for. It’s near the town of Manteigas and when it’s really reeeeeeally cold the waterfall freezes over. I’d love to see that one day! 

poço do inferno2



  1. This place is fascinating on many levels, and your photos are excellent. It’s personally fascinating because many years ago in college days, I often visited a place in North Florida known as the Devil’s Millhopper. It was a natural sinkhole, and got its unique name from its funnel-like shape. During the 1880s, farmers used to grind grain in gristmills. On the top of the mill was a funnel-shaped container called a “hopper” that held the grain as it was fed into the grinder. Because fossilized bones and teeth from early life forms have been found at the bottom of the sink, legend has it that the millhopper was what fed bodies to the devil… hence, the Devil’s Millhopper. It exists today, but is now a protected National Natural Landmark and a Florida State Park.


    And many thanks for the fascinating look at your Well of Hell.

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