Occupying 18% of the country’s territory, Portugal is home to a unique set of mountainous regions. Portugal’s mountainous regions include the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in the country, which is rich in biodiversity and culture. Other mountain regions include Serra do Geres, Serra da Lousa, and Serra de Sao Mamede. The country’s mountainous regions formed about 540 million years ago as a result of tectonic activity. Other natural processes, such as erosion and weathering, helped to shape the mountains into what they are today.

The mountainous regions of Portugal are also home to marginalised communities. These areas are often overlooked and have experienced abandonment from younger generations. Portuguese marginalised mountainous regions are characterised by economic disparity, limited infrastructure, and a lack of innovation. Nevertheless, these areas are becoming a hub for ecotourism and exposing the rest of Europe to what they have to offer.

Exploring Marginalised Portuguese Mountainous Regions: A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Despite being relatively small in size, Portugal has a large variety of landscapes. While Portuguese beaches and coastal cities tend to attract the most tourists, the country also boasts vast mountainous regions. Geographically, mountains occupy 18% of Portugal’s territory. These regions are home to mountains such as Serra de Estrela, Serra do Geres, Serra da Lousa, and Serra de Sao Mamede. One defining factor of these mountain regions is their classification of being marginalised. 

Exploring Carnivals and Their Social Impacts in Marginalised Mountainous Villages: Entrudo de Góis in the Aldeias do Xisto, Portugal

Nestled in the remote mountains of Central Portugal, lie three small villages: Pena, Aigra Nova, and Aigra Velha, better known as the Serra de Lousa, Góis Schist villages. Social isolation and depopulation are acutely visible in this area; each one of these mountainous and remote villages is home to only 1-8 elderly inhabitants. In rural areas, however, small-scale festivals can play a significant role as a tool for tourism development and local sustainable development.

Notable Projects

The below projects actively support research and life in Portuguese marginalised mountain areas. MARGISTAR believes in their efforts and invites you to follow these projects online or connect with their representatives within the MARGISTAR consortium.


MARGISTAR Contact: Dr Fiona Eva Bakas, Lusófona University and IGOT, Lisbon University, Portugal

The local cultural and environmental NGO Lousitânea coordinates all logistics for the Entrudo de Góis carnival-festival with the Góis Municipality. Lousitânea also provides visitors with interactive experiences to discover the heritage of the Góis Schist villages, for example providing tourism experiences for small groups, featuring traditional bread (‘broa’)-making, making the local grappa (‘bagaso’), and discovering local walking paths.
Lousitânea also has created and maintains an indigenous tree nursery with the Benfica national football team.

Association for the Integrated Development of the Aldeias de Montanha Network (ADIRAM)

MARGISTAR Contact: Ana Margarida Silva, Centre for Intercultural Studies (CEI, ISCAP-P.PORTO)

In the central Portuguese region, the Association for the Integrated Development of the Aldeias de Montanha Network (ADIRAM) with the Aldeias de Montanha Project seeks to promote the regional development of these marginalised mountainous territories.
ADIRAM's efforts promote the touristic and integrated development of the Mountain Villages Network of the Serra da Estrela and Beira Interior region and support the regional development of the territory n a sustainable, integrated, innovative, and creative way.

The Cooperative Spaces – Coworks @Aldeias de Montanha Project

MARGISTAR Contact: Ana Margarida Silva, Centre for Intercultural Studies (CEI, ISCAP-P.PORTO)

The Cooperative Spaces – Coworks @Aldeias de Montanha Project has established several co-working spaces in the territories of the Aldeias de Montanha. Currently, eight co-working spaces have been established in the villages of Alvoco das Várzeas, Videmonte, Alpedrinha, Lapa dos Dinheiros, Cortes do Meio, Folgosinho, Rapa, and Algodres.
The Cooperative Spaces – Coworks @Aldeias de Montanha Project is an innovative way of creating dynamic and sustainable networking and knowledge transfer opportunities for and with the villages in which they are situated.

The Queijeiras Project

MARGISTAR Contact: Ana Margarida Silva, Centre for Intercultural Studies (CEI, ISCAP-P.PORTO)

To value the art and knowledge of the “Queijeiras,” or women cheese makers, of Serra da Estrela, the Queijeiras Project was developed and promotes the work of these extraordinary women.
The Queijeiras Project empowers women cheesemakers through the appreciation and promotion of their work, which holds immense traditional importance for the region.

The Role of Creative Industries in the Empowerment of Marginalised Mountain Communities: A Case Study of Aldeias de Montanha, Portugal

Meet the Aldeias de Montanha, a group of villages located in the centre of Portugal between the Natural Park of Serra da Estrela and the protected landscape of Serra da Gardunha. Working to support these territories, the Aldeias de Montanha Project focuses on nature, heritage, culture, well-being, and quality of life and represents three key areas of interest: nature, people (tradition and culture), and gastronomy.

Serra da Estrela Cheese: A Pilar of Culture, Heritage, and the Economy in Portugal’s Mountain Regions

The mountains of Europe bring rich and unique cultural heritages to their respective regions. Portugal is home to many mountain ranges and each is known for its own special contribution to Portuguese culture. Read on for a better understanding of one of the Central Portugal’s most renowned products: the Serra da Estrela cheese.

Meet MARGISTAR's Portuguese Members

Dr. Antonio Monteiro

Researcher at University of Lisbon

Antonio is a remote sensing scientist and lecturer devoted to impact assessment of anthropogenic activity and climate change in mountain systems. Previous work addressed the impact of land cover/use transitions; the assessment and modelling of biodiversity responses; the mapping of deforestation, carbon stocks and carbon emissions; the evaluation of artificial intelligence for remote sensing change detection in pastoral systems; policy evaluation and project management. The final goal is to support decision and transition into sustainability of mountain communities and their stakeholders. He has performed research and consulting in the mountain systems of Europe and Africa (Angola, Madagascar).

Dr. Fiona Bakas

Assistant Professor at Lusofona University

Fiona Eva Bakas, PhD, is a critical tourism researcher and lecturer with international teaching experience. She holds a PhD in Tourism (Otago University, 2014), has 20 years of varied work experience (corporate and academic), and is currently a tourism lecturer at Lusófona University, and IGOT, University of Lisbon, Portugal. In 2021-2022 she was a visiting lecturer at Dalarna University, Sweden. In 2017-2020 she was a contracted postdoctoral researcher in a nation-wide project on creative tourism in rural areas and small cities (CREATOUR), at the University of Coimbra. She is associate member of NGO Equality in Tourism.

Ana Margarida Silva

Researcher at Centre for Intercultural Studies, ISCAP-P.PORTO

Ana Margarida Silva has a degree in Modern Languages from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities – University of Coimbra and completed a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies for Business at ISCAP-P.Porto. In 2021, she became a researcher at the Centre for Intercultural Studies (CEI-ISCAP-P.PORTO), collaborating with the StreetArtCEI, ENDING, Augmented Assessment and SciArt projects. Her research interests involve street art, cultural and creative industries, rural and mountain tourism, social development as well as social innovation and sociocultural entrepreneurship. She is currently a PhD student in Cultural Studies: Memory, Identity, Territory and Language at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Dr. Maria Rivera Mendez

Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Évora

Postdoc Researcher for the University of Évora currently involved in H2020 project DIVINFOOD, and Portuguese national funded projects. She got her Ph.D. on Rural Development Project Planning and Sustainable Management by the Technical University of Madrid and graduated from Keele University in the U.K. on Environmental Sciences and International Relations. María has experience on the dynamics and the sociology of rural areas and communities as well as on project management. She participated in many EU financed projects in the fields of food systems, rural development, social innovation, and agricultural sociology.

Dr. José Muñoz-Rojas

Assistant Professor at University of Évora

Dr. José Muñoz-Rojas is an Assistant Professor and Researcher in Rural Landscape Dynamics at University of Évora.