Strange things in strange places (part 4)

altar3Road trips can be surprising, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

As we were driving along a road in the Trás-os-Montes region, in the north of Portugal, I thought I noticed a sign mentioning an “altar of sacrifices”.

Wait. What? Go back.

Yep, it does say “altar of sacrifices”.


I couldn’t find much on site, I have to say. I’m not an archaeologist but I can’t see anything resembling an altar of any kind. Still, it is strange (to say the least) and probably stranger still is the casual sign by the side of the road.


Known as “altar of sacrifices” or “Pias dos Mouros” these are two parallel rectangular structures, which were dug on granite. The smaller one is about 2 meters long by 0,55 meters wide, while the bigger one is roughly 2,47 meters long by 0,60 meters wide.


On the sides you can see several carved stone steps. As far as I know no real archaeological excavation has ever been carried out on this site, but it is believed to have been built previously to the arrival of the Romans to what is, today, Portuguese territory.

Its true purpose and origin? Still a mystery. But it only goes to show that sometimes fascinating things can be where we least expect them!



  1. What I am more surprised is with the stairs on the last photo… if this was a simple open grave and people left them there… why on Earth do you have very properly carved steps that resemble the cerimonial things we saw in Central and South America?? I mean they are shallow and anyone could carry a corpse inside a whole, the inclination degree is not that steep, so this was obviously ritualized… I find this amazing…

    • Yes, the steps do make me think of ritualization. But again, this site has never undergone a thorough archaeological excavation, so who knows what else is hiding in there? 😉

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