A calm and peaceful town, Alter do Chão dates back to the Roman period.
At that time, it was called Abelterium and the public baths at Ferragial d´El Rei and the bridge at Vila Formosa are some examples of Roman remains to be found in the region. From the fourteenth century onwards, the town developed around the castle, which was built by D. Pedro I in 1359 and continues to be a major feature of the town, since it stands in the main square - the Praça da República.
Currently, the municipality is investing heavily in its natural resources. Agriculture continues to be the main activity and, in terms of livestock, horse-breeding is of great importance. A great deal of investment is also being made in promoting hunting tourism.
The Coudelaria Real, the Royal Stud Farm, founded in 1748 by D. João V, has made a major contribution towards spreading the town´s name. It was there that the first attempts were made to recover the Lusitanian breed, known as Alter Real, whose horses are much admired by the high school of equestrian enthusiasts. The Alter do Chão Professional Farming College is also situated here.