Although geocaching is certainly a recent addition in the history of the world it seems to span across the ages. It has allowed us to explore new places as well as those left almost forgotten. We are traveling back in time to the 15th century to explore the small abandoned village of Safira, Portugal, where we find our Geocache of the Week, The Jewel of Sapphire (GCED4F).
Located near Montemor-o-Novo in Alentejo, you will find the abandoned village of Safira. What is left of the village is positioned on top of a small hill: ruins of houses, a church, and a cemetery. In 1755, an earthquake struck the small village and damaged all of the buildings; the community restored them in 1874 and once again several years later in 1903. However, in the 1930s, all residents packed up in the search for better living conditions and left the small village abandoned.
The building that stands tallest on top of the hill is Igreja de Nossa Señora da Natividade de Safira (Church of Our Lady of the Nativity of Sapphire). The church was built in the 15th century and is still standing despite the terrible earthquake and hundreds of years of wear.
Geocachers can make their way to this abandoned village by following the EN4 sign to Safira between Montemor-o-Novo and Silveiras and will continue until it turns into dirt. Crossing through the gates of the village will take you back in time to when the town was alive and full of people. On your way to finding this geocache, you will have the opportunity to explore and get lost in the tall grass and wildflowers that bloom across the hills. A small lake rests at the bottom of the hill and fruit trees are scattered between the buildings.
After exploring the area, it’s time to make your way to the last house in the village. Watch your step as you navigate through the vacant house and toward the kitchen area as the walls are disintegrating all around. What once was an oven toward the back of the house, is now where the geocache is located. You are looking for a small tupperware container.
This is a very popular geocache among the community as it has over 700 logs and has accumulated over 160 Favorite points since it was placed in 2003. Geocacher PedroMarlene recapped their tour through Safira and finding GCED4F,
“On an unexpected visit, we came to leave another smile on the map! This one had so many Favorite points we had to do it! The light was not the best because it was already sunset, but even so, it was possible to appreciate the beauty of the place and understand why there are so many Favorites! Thank you very much to the owner for showing us this wonderful place!”
After earning the smiley, geocachers often spend some more time in the area exploring and enjoying the view. If it’s a windy day, Safira is perfect for flying kites and taking in all that the geocache location has to offer. While most of the buildings are still standing, they are continually crumbling and falling apart with each passing year. As you walk around, glimpses of exposed brick and support beams that once stood tall catch your eye; you’re able to imagine what life was like when the village was alive and bustling.
Geocachers who make the journey to Safira to find GCED4F will leave with lasting memories of a wonderful cache surrounded by the history of a life that once filled the walls of this now-abandoned village.
Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.