Vala do Carregado on the Ice Route

Between the 18th and 19th centuries, when the Royal Montejunto Ice Factory was in operation, Vala do Carregado was the last stop on the land transport of natural ice before its arrival in Lisbon. It was a crucial point in a complex and lengthy process. First, the ice collected from the freezing tanks by Pragança’s villagers was stored throughout the winter in the Royal Factory’s huge silos. At the beginning of summer, distribution was prepared: the ice was compacted and cut, and then wrapped in straw, hay and burlap, so that the blocks would be preserved during the trip to the capital, which took about 12 hours. The ice was first transported in carts pulled by mules, which descended Serra de Montejunto; upon arrival at Vala do Carregado, the ice was transferred to the “snow boats”, which, after crossing the Tagus, docked at Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon. The ice was then taken to Casa da Neve, which supplied the Royal House, the best cafes and, also, Hospital de Todos os Santos.