The Mystery of the Belmonte Bowl - Skateparks Ep 1

Skateboarding in Portugal Quandary in the Quarry - The Mystery of the Belmonte Bowl. |  by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira

  • It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle
  • BELMONTE SKATEPARK

The village of Belmonte (population: ca. 3500) lies towards the northeastern part of Portugal. It’s head of a rural municipality where you can find about 54 people per square kilometre and where they’re highly likely to be advanced in years, as the ratio of elderly to young people is close to 3:1. Towards the northeastern part of the village, not far from the local Intermarché supermarket, there’s a small residential neighbourhood facing an abandoned quarry. Inside this quarry sits one of the biggest skate bowls in the world.

It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle. The pictures should help make this clearer. It’s close to 4 metres deep and has almost a full metre of vert all around. There are oververt extensions over a metre tall. It’s a beast of a thing, especially when you consider the standards of skateboarding and skateparks in Portugal. Anyone that sees it immediately asks himself “What the hell is this doing here?” And it seems to me to be a fair, reasonable question.

Anyway, when faced with a Portuguese skate-related mystery, there’s always one thing you can do, and that’s call up Luís Paulo. This dude was the first Portuguese skater ever to get sponsored, one of the few to have met Tony Hawk and the only one to have done an aerial over him, so he’s been in the game for a bit and knows his shit. I thank him for giving us the lowdown on this one

Apparently the whole idea came from the Belmonte Municipality. They are close to Serra da Estrela, the only ski resort in Portugal, where there’s also quite a bit of downhill biking and hang gliding going on in the summer, so they figured a skatepark would attract some of that crowd and get some more visitors to come to the village. Not a bad intuition

However, as it often happens, they didn’t consult any skateboarders before diving into the project. At the time, the largest skatepark in the world had just been built in Shanghai (SMP Skatepark – it’s since been surpassed by the one in Guangzhou) and the architects hired to do the job in Belmonte decided to take inspiration from one of its sections. They did an impressive job: the bowl is nicely tucked inside the quarry walls, the transition is good and the full pipe and cradle look amazing. The only problem is that vert skaters in Portugal are thin on the ground. They did build a street section above the bowl, but unfortunately they didn’t study this subject as well as the transition bit, and it’s just unskateable.

As it is, the Belmonte Skatepark, which was inaugurated in April of 2011, is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a still pristine coping. We have seen examples of what can go down at that bowl when the right people find it, but they’ve been few and far between. In 2012, Jake Phelps and the Thrasher crew (P-Stone, Rhino) came by and brought Peter Hewitt, Pedro Barros, and Grant Taylor for some serious ripping. One year later the Carve Wicked team (Sam Pulley, Alex Perelson, Sam Beckett, Rob Smith, etc.) also dropped some hammers. But the place can take it. In fact, it’s begging for it. If you’re into big walls, start planning that trip and type this into your GPS.

Sign Up for our Newsletter

Join the Trucks and Fins community and receive exclusive news, giveaways, access to subscribers-only-contests, discounts from our partners and much more directly from us!