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Porto & Norte: Trás-os-Montes

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro

The Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro region, a veritable planted Douro paradise, boasts deep valleys meandered by terraces of beautiful vineyards of true nectars of the gods, Port and Douro wines.

Located in the north of Portugal, the region has landscapes of rare natural and rural beauty, revealing a land rich not only in vineyards but also in cereals, vegetables and fruits that shape nature with alternating colors throughout the seasons, sometimes covering the green of the vineyards and olive trees that produce the best fruits to enrich a typical gastronomy awarded with the title of World Heritage, the white or pink of the almond or cherry blossoms and the covered in autumn.

Land of hills, shelter of mushrooms and wild fruits, but also of rivers and streams of crystalline waters, Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a region that offers several rich game resources such as rabbit, hare, wild boar, fox, thrush, partridge, pigeon and turtle do the delight of hunters and experienced podengos and retrievers.

It is also a region that offers fishing resources such as barbel, trout or scale, among others. But the region still offers rich meat in flavor such as the Maronesa, Mirandese and Barrosã steak and filled with a high nobility to gastronomic wonder as farinheira, unique product for its originality and popular wisdom that turn the wheat into delicious “bôlas de beef”

Moody land, Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is also a sweet land for its honey, for its fresh fruits such as apple and cherry, for its dried fruits, especially chestnut, but essentially for its rich convent sweets. in eggs, sugars and flavors always reinvented.
For this region of wonderful mountains and valleys has been inhabited since time immemorial by peoples who have been able to adapt throughout history, always marking its presence indelibly, from prehistory, leaving a vast architectural and cultural heritage, until to our day.

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a region where you can feel the pulse of time, transporting us to ancient times through the contemplation of natural landscapes enriched by cave paintings, true life pictures of a people in constant evolution that deserved the best. World Heritage Site, visiting the historic centers of their cities and towns, museums, community villages or farms and manors.

The region of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro also offers miraculous waters long appreciated by the Romans who recognized their unique therapeutic properties.

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a region where you can experience old experiences such as taking part in the harvest, trampling the grapes in a World Heritage Site, riding donkeys and seeing herds protected by the cattle dog, being rattled by the “caretos” ”, Watch the dance of the pauliteiros beat by the crossing of the clubs that clash in a terrifying and warrior sound, listen to the music of the bagpipes, learn to speak mirandese and (re) live the works of Miguel Torga, Guerra Junqueiro, Trindade Rabbit and Camille Castelo Branco.

For the environment is conducive to readings of a thousand words of enchantment by its nature that mirrors the immensity of the Douro.

This charm lasts on any boat or train trip along the river banks, leading to reservoirs and true and unique nature reserves such as Peneda-Gerês National Park, Alvão, Douro Internacional and Montesinho Natural Parks.

10 Curiosities about Trás-os-Montes

is region of Portugal. It is in the far north of the country, in the isolated and remote interior. However, there is much to discover behind Trás-os-Montes. I was there for a few days and found out a lot about the area. Today I bring you 10 curiosities about Trás-os-Montes.

1 – Cold Earth and Hot Earth

The region is divided between Terra Terra and Terra Quente. Terra Fria corresponds to the transmontana northeast region, which includes Bragança, Vinhais, Vimioso, Miranda do Douro and Mogadouro. As for Terra Quente, the municipalities of Alfândega da Fé, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Mirandela, Valpaços and Vila Flor. This is a purely morphological division. While in the Cold Land we have the fields populated by chestnut trees, in the Hot Land there are mainly olive trees.

2 – The Almond Blossom

Almond blossoms are the hallmark of Trás-os-Montes in spring. In early March, the fields are painted pink and white. There are even some almond blossom parties that celebrate the arrival of milder temperatures in Mogadouro, Torre de Moncorvo and Vila Flor. For those who prefer the train, CP – Comboios de Portugal organizes tours on this Saturday, departing from Porto. See here.

3 – Best of Olive Oil

Although we associate the olive trees with the Alentejo, in Terra Quente Transmontana produces some of the best olive oil in the world. There are several award-winning olive oil brands in this region, including Casa Amaro, Porca de Murça and João das Barbas olive oil. Transmontane olive oil is already DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) certified and here 100 million kilograms of olives are produced annually.

4 – The Transmontane Masks

The living culture of Trás-os-Montes is very rich. One of the symbols of the region are the masked, which can be Caretos, Rattles, Sécs, Farandulos, among others.
One of the masked festivities is the Boys’ Party, where only male members up to 16 years old can participate. Of pagan origin, this cult is associated with the winter solstice, but was adapted and integrated by Christianity. Today, the parties take place mainly between December 25th and January 6th. Dawn is given in the morning, with chants accompanied by bagpipes and drums, and then the masked men wander through the villages, collecting money for the church. Check out the 2017 Winter Holidays Agenda.
Another of the festivities associated with the masked is the Caretos Festival, of Celtic origin. Very similar to boys’ parties, this service is associated with the end of winter and is celebrated on Carnival day. This time, the protagonists are the unmarried boys, who stroll through the villages creating a commotion with their eccentric costumes, bells and bells.

5 – The pagan pillory of Bragança

The pillory near Bragança Castle is a Catholic element of the 16th century (since the second charter of the city was granted by D. Manuel). But is it just that? At the base of this pillory there is an element that seems to clash… It is that a much older pagan statue was placed to support the pillory. If we look closely, it resembles a perforated pig, representing male fertility. Locals are called the “village nut”.

6 – The first civil monument in Portugal

Next to the castle Bragança persists the Domus Municipalis, a 15th century circular building with two floors. Downstairs was the water cistern, and upstairs the city community gathered to make decisions.

Because of the distance from the royal capital, decisions here were made by the “good men,” those who had land and those who were considered of great wisdom. The population gathered here to solve the city’s problems and the people waited. Even inside the building there are two cock-of-the-stone games, with which the people entertained waiting for the decision.

7 – The secret marriage of D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro

It is said that D. Pedro and D. Inês Castro were married in Bragança in secret. The marriage was never proved, but it took place in the church of S. Vicente, outside the city walls. If we go around the church, we find the mosaic panel in honor of the forbidden loves of the monarch and his mistress.

8 – The communicating castles

There are 6 visitable castles in the Trás-os-Montes region: Algoso, Bragança, Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Feathers Róia, Vinhais. All of these fortifications are quite old and date back to the founding of Portugal (12th – 13th century), although they have been rehabilitated over the centuries. For me, the most beautiful is the castle of Algoso, built on top of a cliff, which seems to be part of the building.

The curiosity about these castles is that, on a clear sunny day, each is sighted by another, with a kind of communicating lines between them. In medieval times, this proximity served to enable different fortifications to be alerted in case of danger.

9 – Here the sun rises earlier

In Trás-os-Montes is the village where the sun rises earlier: Paradela. The most eastern Portuguese point is this transmontana village. To enjoy the most morning sunset in Portugal, just go to the Penha das Torres Viewpoint in this parish. You will have incredible views of the Douro River and the space also has a picnic area where you can have breakfast.

10 – Rio de Onor, the Community Village

Rio de Onor was recently elected one of the 7 wonder villages of Portugal. Here the remnants of medieval communitarianism still survive. Each year, 2 stewards are elected who distribute the work among the villagers and manage the commons: land, livestock and infrastructure. Products and profit are then distributed among all.

 

The Wonderful Kingdom

The Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro Region is located in the north of Portugal, corresponding to the Vila Real and Bragança districts, and some municipalities, in the north, of the Viseu and Guarda district. The relief of the region is formed by high mountains cut by deep valleys and the climate is temperate continental being colder in the mountainous areas and milder along the Douro River.

Here the famous Port wine, Douro wines, olive oil and honey are produced. Almond, apple, cherry, chestnut, potato, cereals and mushrooms are grown here. Here the typical sausages, the Maronesa, Mirandese and Barrosã steak, the cheeses, the balls and various conventual sweets are made. The rivers of the region are rich in trout, scale and barbel and nature is generous in game species – rabbit, hare, boar, fox, thrush, partridge, pigeon and turtledove.

The Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro region has been inhabited since prehistory and has a vast architectural and cultural heritage. (Re) Discover the goldmines of Trêsminas; the thermal resorts of Alto Tâmega; rock engravings and paintings; the churches and bridges of various architectural styles; the solar ones; the convents and castles; the Douro Valley Farms; the cities and their historical centers and museums; the community villages of Rio de Onor and Pitões das Júnias.

Live the traditions: get dressed, enjoy a donkey ride, learn to speak Mirandese, dance with the Pauliteiros, participate in the vintage and be inspired by the works of Miguel Torga, Guerra Junqueiro, Trindade Coelho and Camilo Castelo Branco.

Live the nature: watch the rare birds that fly over the Douro cliffs, practice nature sports, be dazzled by boat and train trips; enjoy the protected areas of the region – Albufeira do Azibo, Peneda-Gerês National Park, Alvão Natural Parks, Douro International and Montesinho.

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is history, tradition and nature in pure state. It is hospitality and well-being. Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a World Heritage Site – Archaeological Sites in the Côa Valley and Alto Douro Wine Region.

Own rusticity and beauty

Beautiful cities like Chaves and Bragança or places like Vidago are worth a long visit. This remote and mountainous region offers unique scenery, such as almond blossoms, historic villages, natural landscapes and rich cuisine. Bragança and its historic center are situated at the far end of the Montesinho Natural Park, one of the wildest forest areas in Europe, with a huge diversity of fauna and flora.

Everyday life has not changed much for centuries and these isolated villages have a very rustic beauty of their own. The inhabitants have a traditional way of life, especially in smaller towns and villages such as Miranda do Douro, with very particular traditions as evidenced by the Mirandese dialect, Mogadouro, Torre de Moncorvo and Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

Discovering flavors, memories and traditions

Trás-os-Montes is a very rich and peculiar area in terms of gastronomy and traditions, highlighting the high-quality olive oil and the rich alheira, a typical sausage much appreciated. Carnival celebrations in Trás-os-Montes are vibrant and full of tradition. The festivities last during the days before Ash Wednesday, and include flashy costumes, lively parades and traditional music, attracting visitors from around the world. Invigorating spas and wild nature are predicated of a very preserved area, with an admirable beauty.

You can’t miss out!

Bragança and Montesinho Natural Park, Fluvial Beach of Albufeira do Azibo – Macedo de Cavaleiros, Caldas Santas de Carvalhelhos, Mirandela, Miranda do Douro, Vidago. Chaves Spa, Salted Stone Spa and Vidago Spa.

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