‘Loural’ comes from ‘laurel’ (‘Prunus lusitanica’), which grows naturally on its grounds, and it has become the name of a small group of houses, a so called ‘satellite’, belonging to the village Aldeia Velha, which is situated right on top of our mountain. Loural used to be too small to become an actual registered village of its own, and therefor it belongs to the nearest actual village, sharing its facilities. There are 3 more satellite dwellings belonging to Aldeia Velha, and if you are interested in knowing more about this, please visit the Casa de Convivio in Aldeia Velha where the inhabitants of Aldeia Velha will be able to tell you ‘of the old times’ and how people on this mountain connect now, and in the past.
The trail of the history of Loural leads us about 160 years back in time when the first people founded their homes in this location. With its steep slopes and secluded valleys, the Serra do Açor has at times been tough to the inhabitants. People were living with the forces of nature and feeding of the flora and fauna around them. This Serra region as a whole has never been rich or wealthy financially, and people stuck together and lived rather cut off from the rest of the country, and the rest of the world. Only about 40 years ago when the dirt roads were replaced by tarmac ones, the area starts to open to visitors, allowing the locals to connect better to further regions.
Loural has been inhabited by 3 generations of the families Moreira, Almeida and Braz, who stil have a strong connection to this area of the Serra do Açor. In the high times, around the 1920-60s there were up to 25 mouths to feed. People were working the fields of Loural, building up all the terraces where mainly the women carried the stones, and the men built up the walls. Corn and cabbage were their main crops, and the chestnust on the slopes provided the ingredient present in every meal. Chestnuts were harvested, peeled and dried on racks placed in the kitchens high over the cooking area. These were the same trees you can still find on the grounds of the village. A water mill, though yet unrestored, is located in the small river, at the end of the public lighting trail opposite the houses of Loural. The mill provided the means to make flower; and to rent out the facility to others needing a mill. We have found several tax forms dating back to the early years of the last century, where the inhabitants of Loural paid tax as owners of a mill.
The last inhabitant of Loural belonging to one of the 3 orginal familes, Sr. Zé Moreira, passed away in the year 2000. All his live he lived in the village; before the modern infrastructure was placed, and before the houses were restored to what they are now. Once the village became uninhabited, the 13 owners of the land, houses and ruins of Loural, , all heirs of the 3 families, decide to sell the property in a single sale. Their intention is to keep the houses and land together, which has been a very fortunate event. And in October 2008 Francisco and Tiana become the owners of the houses, ruins, terraces and forests.
Several years of planning, cleaning, (re)building and organising are spent with the aim to revive a Loural. We tried especially to maintain, enforce and make use of the natural abundance of the location, and the surroundings.