Medieval fortress that houses one of the most famous markets in northern Portugal. Land of bathrobes and towels. Enjoy a good meal (frango or cod) and do your shopping. You can find everything at a good price.
I have always enjoyed visiting Portugal and this summer, I had the opportunity to visit a town in the north near Galicia with a long history. It's a small town with an older section that is surrounded by walls. It´s located on the banks of the River Lima (or Limia) which is crossed by a Roman bridge. It´s worth strolling through the streets where you´ll see some very traditional Portuguese customs among the multitude of statues and figures. I also recommend eating at one of the restaurants and enjoying the local cuisine.
Vilanova de Cerveira (or just Cerveira) is a charming small village in northern Portugal. Its name comes from the deer populations that used to inhabit these lands, honoured by an iron sculpture of a deer observing the village from a hilltop by the artist José Rodrigues. The work also commemorates an ancient Portuguese victory, whose army outnumbered the Spanish. They placed torches on the antlers of the thousands of deer that inhabited the area's forests. Believing that the animals were a horde of soldiers running at superhuman speed, the Spanish fled in terror. One of the main attractions is the ferry that travels back and forth between the villages of Goián (Galicia) and Miño. The rest is much like other small northern Portuguese villages. It has small markets, good restaurants and typical Portuguese hospitality.
I have to say in all honesty that Amarante is a great town that has about 12,000 inhabitants. It's the kind of place that once you get there, the first thing that stands out is its historic center. And by that I mean the rich heritage and cultural archetype that it has, i.e. the iconic [ poi = 177961] Convent of S. Gonçalo [/ poi] that can be found just past the bridge. It's one of the most spectacular things in this town and wandering through its narrow old streets makes it seem like time stands still. It's not easy to put the limits to this Portuguese town that grew with the passage of time, but is said to Amarante is blessed by three parishes: Amarante-S itself. Gonçalo, Cepelos and Madalena. Highlighting the ancient Roman bridge over the Rio Támega happens and where we find the Convent of S. Gonçalo, the [poi = 180851] Amarante Museum [/ poi] and river beaches, near the municipal swimming pools and Forest Park. In Alameda Pascoaes Teixeira, right next to the Convent there's a large granite sculpture and the tourist office and out of town.
Sever do Vouga is a charming little villa, situated in the center of Portugal and almost half an hour away from Aveiro. It is famous for its natural landscape (rivers, waterfalls, viewpoints) and because of the Vouga river which passes by and gave the village it´s name. There is also a bridge that reaches 30 meters high and is called Poco de Santiago. The town has a population of approximately 13,826 inhabitants, of which only 30% belong to the third sector (tourism and services) and another 27% to the primary sector. It is easily accessible, so it is worth going there by motorway either from Aveiro and / or Porto, on the A25. It is also well worth visiting the Cabreia Waterfall, which is located just outside the town but not far and from there you can drive right up to the Natural Park, through which the river passes and there are also stone tables and benches and a variety of trees and plants to see, and most importantly the impressive waterfall. Afterwards you can head back to the village to walk through the river beach Quinta de Barco, along the river Vouga.
Santa Maria da Feira is a beautiful Portuguese town, about 30 kilometers from Porto. We were staying in Porto but one day we decided to go see this town, primarily to visit the castle. The town is charming, with nice, clean streets, as if new. In one day you can do everything the town has to offer, perfect for a day trip. We visited the village in the morning and then went to eat at Café Restaurante Praia Areal.
On the other side of Tuy after you cross the Miño by the iron bridge is where you'll find Valença. In the fortress of the city center. Facades with tiles and many shops. But best to go shopping at the market on Wednesdays just outside.
Vilanova de Cerveira is located 16 kilometers from the border of Tui (in Spain) and across the Miño, directly opposite the town of Goian. This Portuguese town was once known as "Terras de Cervaria" which gave it its representative image, the Deer. It´s often placed in major roundabouts of this beautiful tranquil village and at the top of the mountain, which is has excellent views. The walled town of Vilanova was founded in 1320 by King D. Dinis, who then give his name to the magnificent Pousada installed in the sixteenth century fortress. This villa has elegant seventeenth and eighteenth century mansions, one of which with a beautiful green mosaic facade that has recently been restored. Another is the Mother Church located in the historic center of the village. The narrow streets have a still air which reinforces the quaint charm that you find here and that is only broken by the noise of the people from all over the region who attend the Saturday market.
Following the path of the Route of the Cistercian Vineyards Ucanha I got to visit the [poi = 151942] Fortified bridge [/ poi], which is a remarkable medieval building, the only one in Portugal to be named a Portuguese National Monument. Ucanha is a small town in the area of [poi = 151567] TAROUCA, [/ poi] only 5 square kilometers with about 400 inhabitants. It's situated on the banks of the Varosa river and surrounded by vineyard landscapes. Until 1836 it was the seat of the concello. In addition to the bridge, it's a nice neighborhood that still has medieval cobbled streets and houses with granite facades and wooden balconies. It's also the birthplace of José Leite de Vasconcelos, who was a famous ethnologist, philologist and archaeologist. Among its assets also include [poi = 151951] Mother Church [/ poi] seventeenth century and the Pelourinho or pillory.
One of the main assets of this concello is its natural heritage, which is why I did this trip with a group of friends, but also for its typical regional cuisine and heritage. Firstly once you get to this village there is a mountain of nearly a thousand feet altitude, an excellent vantage point and where the popular Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Graça is. The Parque Natural do Alvao is great, which is located in Ermelo or Fisgas with spectacular waterfalls in a lovely setting surrounded by granitic rocks of great beauty. As for the cultural or historical heritage we found some medieval bridges, and even in the center of town, forts, stone crosses on a walk through history and tradition. This place is marked by two completely different areas, one along the river and the other typically in the Támega mountain, which includes the villages and traditional cuisine that it is famous for.
Vilar de Mouros is a charming village, famous for music festivals and its numerous pop and rock groups, which are known not only nationally, but internationally as well. These festivals, increasingly filled with more young people, are in July in a unique setting. The festival is surrounded by eucalyptus trees through which the Coura river runs, under a 100 year old Roman bridge. Vilar de Mouros is only three kilometres from Camiña, and its natural environment is notable for its quietness and also the canoe races held on the great Coura river with the arrival of warm weather. Very close to the village is a mill and a small river beach, which is very popular with the locals in the summer. Next to the Roman bridge, and along the river, there's a nice restaurant called O Retiro da Ponte, a small church, and the terraced Central café, where you can pass the time enjoying the environment or reading a book.
During the hundreds of kilometers I did this weekend in the interior of northern Portugal, I found this pretty village in Minho on the border of Orense (Spain). The village consists of typical old houses (mainly granite) and agricultural and livestock facilities. I noticed an old castle, or fort, that's now an interesting museum, and a large plaza full of barns they call "espigueiros" (I've never saw so many barns together) between the fort and the stone cross. The Upper Reservoir of Lindoso runs for hundreds of kilometers and enables the hydroelectric development of the entire region, it's of great beauty, although water levels have dropped tremendously. So year after year there are water shortages because maybe the rain is not as heavy as before.
Lapel is a tiny village in northern Portugal on the banks of the river Miño on the right bank. Its population is about 300 and its economy is based on agriculture, freshwater fishing and trading. If you visit the village of Monçao, cradle of Albariño, do not forget to stop by Lapela because it is only about 5 km away and is little known but it is definitely worth a visit because from this road you can see the Tower of Homage that is over 35 meters high and was part of a fort, around the 12th century. The only thing that is preserved is the stone tower, known as the "Tower of Bethlehem". Another must-see is the parish church, which is in an idyllic natural environment along the river Miño.
Here are a few pictures of some of the streets that make up the historic town of Miranda, because, apart from visiting the main monuments (Cathedral, Castle, walls, episcopal palace, churches, etc. ) it's a delight to wander through its narrow cobbled streets, seeing the typical architecture of the whitewashed houses (they reminded me of Andalucía) and almost rural setting while retaining and maintaining their customs, traditions and the particular Mirandese language.
Every two years the northern Portugese village of Vila Nova de Cerveira spends a month (usually in summer) celebrating Portuguese contemporary art. Moreover, since 2003, it has also includesd a special section of Galician art (plus art from every continent) after signing agreements with the Museum of Pontevedra, the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Cultural Center of Ourense. The village is charming and its people are very hospitable so I would recommend it if you're in the north of Portugal or Galicia. This type of event is symbolic of cultural decentralization in Portugal and it seems to have achieved great success over the 25 years that it has been in operation. In addition to the exhibition there are lectures, conferences and workshops.
The truth is I don't know what prompted me to take a detour to Sendim village, but I found a really incredible place! Sendim is a parish of Miranda of Douro, which is about 20 km away and located in the International Douro Natural Park - Los Arribes del Duero. It has about 1,500 inhabitants, the economy is mainly rural - crops (olive groves and vineyards) and livestock. At the village entrance there is an agricultural cooperative that gives the town its biggest economic boost. It has many services/facilities (post office, stores, school, health center, soccer field, cultural center, bank, swimming pools, a small rural hotel, firefighters, etc.) and even a very famous Inter-celtic music festival (last week of July or first week of August) with international significance. However, it also retains its traditions, Mirandese is spoken, it maintains its festivals (songs and pauliteiros dance groups). What I found most amazing was the contrast between the modern infrastructure and the rural world. I could not believe what I was seeing when, on my walk through the village, almost got hit by a donkey was running at full speed, with full saddlebags and a lady dressed all in black with a typical headscarf, sitting hand on his back, screaming and whipping with a stick. It was an amazing sight!
Vila Verde is not very well known to tourists. Its located in the heart of the Minho region and offers beautiful natural landscapes, famous for their green wine vineyards, pretty villages which are rich in architectural, and popular for its traditional crafts. There is an impressive courthouse building in the center of town, which is surrounded by a small garden, squares, churches and monuments. This town is especially known for the quality of their crafts. One such craft is the typical "love scarf" which is a scarf that is embroidered by local women, since the eighteenth century.
The pottery and wickerwork are also of good quality. Close to Vila Verde is the somewhat abandoned Rendufe Monastery and Ponte Novo, through which a beautiful river runs through. About 5 km down, there is the Restaurant Torres, a good place if you want to taste the typical regional cuisine. As for the cuisine as well as around the Miño, they feature hearty dishes such as roast lamb, rojões the Portuguese stew, the sarrabullo, etc. Gourmets will find the famous Abbot pudim which is made with eggs and pork fat mixed with port wine, lemon and cinnamon. You must be accompany your meal with the "vinho verde" produced on farms throughout the region.
Dalvares is part of TAROUCA, situated on the mountain of Santa Barbara, on the left bank of the river Varosa. It's a small town, with only a thousand inhabitants who are mainly engaged in agriculture (fruit, corn, potatoes, etc.), and in particular the cultivation of vineyards which produces sparkling wine, typical of this region. I was struck by the rural character of the village. It still retains public laundries which are still used today. It has a sixteenth-century parish church, the Castro de Santa Barbara (primitive settlement of the XIII century villa, where the Chapel of Santa Barbara is) and the Casa do Paço, a former medieval farm declared a national monument, which now houses the Museum of Sparkling Wine and a cultural center.