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Porto & Norte: Douro Valley

Douro Valley

The Douro Valley could also be called an enchanted valley such as the beauty and enchantment that its landscapes offer.

Departing from Porto, where the river flows and where the Douro (table) and Porto (generous wine) wines produced on its slopes also flow, we can know in various ways this Cultural Landscape, classified World Heritage: by road, from by train, on a cruise boat, or even by helicopter. None of them will leave us indifferent.

In a route through the viewpoints that offer the best views, we will have to cross the river from north to south and vice versa. But on the way we can admire stunning landscapes over the river and visit vineyards, towns and villages until you reach Miranda do Douro, where the river enters Portugal.

We start by visiting in Vila Nova de Gaia the cellars where Porto wine ages. We get to know this wine a little better by taking advantage, of course, to taste the precious nectar. And on the river we can still see old rabelo boats, the only ones that carried the wine from the farms to the mouth before the construction of the various dams that made the river navigable.

In Peso da Régua, the Douro Museum gives us another perspective on wine culture and the region. Not far, but on the south bank is Lamego, one of the most beautiful cities in northern Portugal, situated at the base of a huge blue and white tiled staircase that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. In Pinhão, right by the river, the railway station is a must see to see its old tiles dedicated to the culture of the vineyard.

Before arriving at Pocinho, we can take a detour on the south bank to visit Numão Castle and enjoy the view over the horizon. A little further east is the Foz Coa Archaeological Park, a World Heritage listed open-air rock art gallery, as well as the respective Museum in Vila Nova de Foz Coa.

Arriving at Barca de Alva we enter the International Douro Natural Park since the river from here to Miranda do Douro borders Portugal and Spain. In this route the river runs tight between high cliffs until it reaches the small town of Raiana where it enters Portugal.

As far as Barca de Alva, Alto Douro Vinhateiro is also the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. The river did its first work by digging deep valleys in the earth, while Man turned the shale mountains into earth and walls and planted the vineyard there, green in summer, fiery in autumn. With wisdom inherited from generations, he inclined the terraces so that the sun’s rays would embrace the vines and give the grapes the warmth the wine needs. That is why from the fruits of the earth and the work of man this unique wine and landscape was made.

The 10 Most Beautiful Douro Places

Molded by Rio and Man, the Douro Valley is lavish in stunning and enchanting landscapes. Discover the 10 most beautiful places in the Douro.

A wine region of excellence, the Douro shaped the landscape and population shaped the Douro. From this fantastic interaction between Man and Nature was born one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal and one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. The Douro Valley attracts more and more visitors and is increasingly fashionable. If you don’t know it yet or just want to remember, come and discover with us the 10 most beautiful places in the Douro.

1. Peso da Régua

Peso da Régua, also known only as “Régua”, is a town in the north of Portugal, located in Trás-os-Montes, next to the Douro River, known for being the capital of the demarcated region that produces the famous wine. from Porto. There is no certainty of the origins of the town, but it is thought here that there was a Roman house called “Villa Reguela”. But only in 1756 Peso da Régua would suffer further development, when the Marquis de Pombal created the Royal General Company of Agriculture of the Alto Douro Vineyards, which established the first demarcated region of wine production in the world.
Already in 1703, the region had been privileged through the important Treaty of Methuen, in favor of the Douro viticulture, and the plantations took a new increment. In Peso da Régua, the Company’s warehouses are built, and the first eight-day “wine fairs” were created, creating various commercial establishments, inns, gambling houses and many other added value. developed the locality. It was from Peso da Régua that departed the typical wooden Rabelo boats that ventured across the Douro River to transport the wine barrels to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the wine aged in the cellars.

2. Pinhão

A beautiful village in the north of the country, Pinhão is located on the right bank of the Douro River, being considered the heart of the Alto Douro Wine Region, where are located the many farms that produce Port wine, inserted in one of the areas classified by UNESCO as humanity’s cultural heritage. Pinhão owes its name to the river of the same name, tributary of the Douro river, whose beautiful mouth is in this locality.
The surrounding landscape is of a unique beauty, surrounded by a lush nature with the Douro River as a companion and manor houses, farms and manor houses that attest to the richness that the Port wine has given to the region, and the village is built in gaps that seem to it. head to the lovely river. One of the main heritage sites of the village is the beautiful 19th-century railway station with beautifully tiled panels depicting daily scenes from Pinhão, as well as the production of Port Wine from the vintage through the stepping. from grapes to the transport of rabelo to the warehouses of Porto.

3. Miranda do Douro

Of very old origin was occupied by the Romans and later in the century. VIII by the Arabs who gave it the name “Mir Andul”, which later derived to Miranda. Its location near the border gave it the status of an important strategic point of defense, having the first king of Portugal D. Afonso Henriques in the century. XII ordered the building of the castle and the fence of walls, which turned it into a true Plaza de Armas.
In the century XVI was elevated to the category of city and seat of the Bishopric of Trás-os-Montes, entering a phase of prosperity in which grand buildings were built, such as the Church of Santa Maria Maior that for about two centuries had the category of Sé. In the 17th century with the Restoration Wars of independence with Spain, and later during the French invasions, the city suffered many setbacks and lost much of its importance.

4. Barca d’Alva

Set in a beautiful valley on the left bank of the Douro River, next to the lane defined by the Águeda river to the east, Barca de Alva is a newly developed settlement. In fact, from the 19th century onwards, agricultural development, the construction of the Douro line and the consequent railway connection with Spain, the construction of the 221 National Road, which crosses the Douro River, gave Barca de Alva a development that has continued. more or less stable until the railway station closes.
However, the recent construction of the new river pier and the road link to Spain by the mouth of the Águeda gave a new dynamism to this small village. Inserted in the area of ​​the Douro International Natural Park, Barca de Alva offers magnificent natural landscapes and is a crossing point for the Douro River Cruises, being also famous for the beautiful panoramas that give their Almond Blossom.

5. Favaios

Favaios is a village belonging to the municipality of Alijó, in the northern region of the country, situated at the foot of the beautiful Serra do Vilarelho, typically Transmontana. This rural village, with such fertile soils, sees in viticulture its main activity, producing here a famous Moscatel wine that takes its name from the parish and this demarcated region beyond.
The origins of this parish are very old and lost in time, and it is thought that there was already a Roman community here, during the first and second centuries of our era, probably called “Flavius”. at the beginning of the formation of the Portuguese Nationality. This village prides itself on its interesting heritage, highlighting what remains today of the Roman Castle, mostly sections of the walls.

6. São Xisto

Set in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage region, São Xisto is an enchanted spot on the Douro River! Located in Vale de Figueira, São João da Pesqueira municipality, the village is dominated by a breathtaking landscape! To appreciate this village, it would be enough to look around at the hills and valleys, the nearby Douro, traditional stone walls and the typical terraces of the vineyards on the banks of this river. But your charms don’t stop here…
Let yourself be dazzled by the diverse heritage of this beautiful village, such as the São Xisto Chapel, the Regretful Angel Lookout, the Centennial Fountain and the many typical schist houses. The places to visit, in a leisurely stroll, still pass by the inevitable oil and wine mills, or we were not on the banks of the Douro. The Douro river pier and Ferradosa train station add even more charm to this place. The village of São Xisto has very specific features linked to the importance of the vineyard. Here dominates, as its name implies, the schist, contrasting with the granite that takes over the opposite bank.

 

7. Trevões

Trevões is a parish of the municipality of S. João da Pesqueira, district of Viseu, being part of the Douro Demarcated Region. The origin of the place name has raised some controversy. Several documents name it Thunder. Other documents however call it Trevões. Several theories then emerge in an attempt to explain the origin and etymological evolution of this toponym.
Some suggest that the original name would be Thunder, due to frequent thunderstorms in the region. Later, due to the large amount of clover growing in the area, it was changed to Trevões. Another thesis also suggests the existence in the old pillory of the village, now missing, the representation of a shield with five clover leaves, which belonged to a parish nobleman, named Travassos, hence the toponym. Others argue that Trevões is the correct designation, constituting the natural phonetic evolution of Trevules, the original form in some ancient documents.

8. Lamego

Lamego is one of the most important urban centers in the Douro region. Long before the founding of the Nationality, the lands of Lamego were already populated and constituted an important crossing point in flows and trade. It was here, at Almacave Church, one of the greatest architectural jewels of the municipality, that D. Afonso Henrique gathered the First Courts, when Portugal was born as an independent nation.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies and the stairway, built in the 18th century, on the summit of St. Stephen’s Mount, in honor of the Lady of Remedies, are the ex-libris of Lamego. The stairway, which rises from the center of the city to the top of Mt., is full of sacred places and amazing nooks. It is probably the greatest symbol of devotion to Our Lady of Remedies.

9. Viewpoint of São Leonardo da Galafura

Near Covelinhas and Gouvinhas, between Vila Real and Peso da Régua, the São Leonardo da Galafura Viewpoint offers panoramas of great natural beauty over the wonderful Douro River, expressing the excellence of the Trás-os-Montes region. From here the views are surprising, based on the magnificent beauty of the Douro river, cut by the terraces from which the famous Douro wine is born, which for centuries has characterized the life of the region.
Situated at about 640 meters altitude, it is worth contemplating the beauty of the region, seeing from here the regions of Armamar, Sabrosa, Tabuaço, Fontelo or Valença do Douro, among many other places that frame the landscape. The space also has a chapel, where annually on the penultimate weekend of August takes place the local festivity, which welcomes a large number of visitors, as well as a geodetic landmark, and a pleasant picnic park, perfect for moments of relaxation. leisure and communion with nature, which is privileged here.

10. Viewpoint of São Salvador do Mundo

São Salvador do Mundo Viewpoint is located along the road that connects São João da Pesqueira to the Valeira Dam. The view from the viewpoint is magnificent, allowing a unique perspective on the Douro River, the Valeira Dam and the surrounding landscape.
There are ten hermitages, most of them from the 16th century, which make up the Passions of the Passion of Christ, and a beautiful pilgrimage takes place here on the day of the Body of God. Miradouro is traditionally sought by girls who want to get married, legend has it that, by tying up the many broomsticks there, they will easily find a good man to marry.

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