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Fossils Museum

By the cave complex and near the Rock Garden, the Fossils Museum has a collection of specimen "rescued" from the caves own parking lot. The fossils are from a quarry nearby that used to be a shallow sea during the Jurassic Period

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Photographic exhibition

Mineral Exhibition

Considering rocks as documents where certain stages of our planets evolution are imprinted, since its origin around 4.460 million years ago until our days, we can accept that minerals are characters of a particular language that allows the reading of those rocks towards a knowledge of said evolution, much like the historian trying to decipher ancient readings in old scrolls or a musician reading a score.

In order to decipher earth’s history, one must know how to read the rock minerals and other elements conserved by them, as are fossils. On the other hand, studying rocks amplifies our vision of the mineral world, becoming essential to all rocks wherever their nature and origin might be.

There are over 3.500 species of known minerals. Some, not many, are part of the constitution of rocks, and others concentrate in geological bodies and are highly interesting as raw materials essential to society.

On our compound visitors can admire a collection of rocks, minerals, gems and fossils entitled “Natural Riches of the World”.

This permanent collection with a high pedagogical component complements the visit to this cathedral of nature.

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The spontaneous vegetation is mostly constituted by spiked trees, bushes and shrubs such as rosemary. Of the old arboreal dome only small areas still have Portuguese oak and holm oak. The olive tree associated with crops that aren’t water demanding is the dominant element of non spontaneous vegetation. We can also find species such as Snapdragon and Paeonia Broteri between many others found in the region.

Such richness and diversity can be observed and felt around the caves entrance in the “Jardim dos Cheiros” (Scent Garden) where aromatic herbs both medicinal and culinary that grow spontaneously across the Aire Mountain are dully identified by their scientific and traditional name as well as way of use.

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Fox, Badgers, Rabbits and Genets exist in all park area as well as bats.

To help provide for the family, there was by each home, a patio, a pigpen, a hennery, and a rabbit hutch where animals were bred with scraps, spare vegetables and cereals. By the cave visitors can meet some animals of rural areas that most youth only know through television. In this space rabbits, Guinea pigs, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigeons, turtle doves, pheasants, pea cocks, helmeted Guinea fowl, Quails and others co-exist in peace.

Close by, there are grazing grounds where goats, sheep and donkeys live in semi-freedom and can be petted and hand fed by visitors.

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Solar Clock

Since the dawn of times, mankind has been using the sun and stars as a way to seek guidance and temporal reading. By watching the sun, mankind noticed that objects gained shadows, thus noticing that along the day the size and guidance of those shapes would vary. Primarily the primitive man used his own shadow to estimate hours. Then he saw that by placing a rod on the ground vertically he could make the same measurements. At dawn the shadow will be at its maximum length, at noon at its shortest and at dusk back to its maximum.

Close to the natural entrance of the cave we have one of these Solar Clocks with 4 meter diameter dully built by calculating the caves latitude, longitude and real North direction. For a better understanding of this clock, there’s a panel explaining the Time Equation and one can read the summer, winter and solar hour.

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At the place where the natural entrance of the cave was found, there were at times windmills that we know very little about. In 1947 when the caves were discovered the site was already known as Old Windmills due to the advance stage of degradation presented by these. Today it isn’t without satisfaction that we can show a totally recovered windmill, all the gears inside are working and the evolution of the grounding of cereal into flour can be seen.

The history of windmills dates back to when man sought to grind cereals to its own food. Firstly he would crush cereal between two rocks until the mortar and pestle were invented. The first improvement was to employ a device able to move to rocks larger than those that man could manually operate. During the biblical and Greek heroic ages, two small cylindrical over lapsed hard millstones were operated by slaves and other women. After their conquests in Asia, Romans began to use mills through the force of slaves and convicts and later the force of beasts. The use of animals of burden was a significant progress in the process, however only after the abolition of slavery by Constantine were invented the windmill and watermill.

The windmill is as old as the watermill since they both date from the IVth Century. At the peninsula, believing some writers, windmills were brought by the crusaders during the XIth century. In Portugal there are few windmills still working, so don’t miss this gem.

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Rock Garden