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The noblest tradition nests in the natural beauty of Portugal's most ancient region.
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In the north-western part of the country lies this land of dense vegetation and profound historic wealth. It was here that Portugal's first king, Dom Afonso Henriques, was born in the beginning of the 12th century, having then extended the kingdom to the south, in what was considered as one of the most heroic feats of the Christian Reconquest.
The inheritance of a distant past is seen everywhere.

Stay at one of the excellent manor-houses and mansions with coats of arms, and enjoy the aristocratic tradition of hospitality. Along with this unreproachable art one may en joy an abundant gastronomy, light, acidulous wines (vinhos verdes) and rich wines, and a variety of handicrafts that mingles the shine of` the filigree with the colour of the local embroideries.
(Picture of Bom Jesus Sanctuary, Braga )

The country's longest motorway (A1, from Lisbon to Oporto) goes up to Braga (A3), in the heart of Costa Verde. If you follow the coastline on the road from Vila do Conde to Valença, you will not miss the beautiful beaches, seaside resorts and enchanting villages such as Caminha and Vila Nova de Cerveira. Inland and worthwhile visiting is the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Throughout the region the rivers, waterfalls, vineyards and fertile plots combine with the ancestral monuments in urban centers.

Oporto, the capital of the country's northern regions, with its international t airport, offers the delights of a riverside city as it is magnificently situated on the mouth of the Douro river, from where boats leave to sail up the beautiful river.
Seaside Viana do Castelo, ecclesiastic Braga, and medieval Guimarães are but a few other examples of a happy alliance between popular heritage and cosmopolitan elegance.


Amarante - crossed by the river Tâmega and surrounded by mountains, this pretty town proudly displays its 17th century mansions, with colourful balconies of painted wood brightly decorating the narrow streets, its restaurants with terraces overlooking the river or the beautiful bridge of São Gonçalo which leads to the great monastery of the 16th century that bears the name of the same saint.

Barcelos - medieval walled town with a dungeon. Worthy of a visit are the Ceramics Museum, the Archaeological Museum of the Dukes' Palace, the mother-church (Roman-Gothic), and the churches of Terço, Cruzes and Benedictine Convent. Walking tours: around the ancient Jewish quarter or in the streets with medieval houses and Baroque manors; boat tours: on the Cávado river.
Accommodation: Hotel Bagoeira****

Boticas - where bucolic sceneries seem to depict an austere rural life characterized by ancient customs and traditions kept to this day. Such is the case of the "vinho dos mortos" ("wine of the dead"), a beverage which owes this original name to a piece of history: in 1809, the local inhabitants buried their wine to keep it from falling into the hands of the invading French. When Napoleon´s army was gone, they found the wine had improved; the bottles were termed "dead" and the practice of burying them for about two years still continues.

Braga - Founded by the Celts in 300 B.C. and a Roman administrative center in 27 B.C., Bracara Augusta, as the Romans named it, combines the religious importance with today's commercial and industrial prosperity.
To visit: the Cathedral (12th-18th centuries), the Treasury and Sacred Art Museum; the Museum at the Biscainhos Palace; and the Dom Diogo de Sousa Museum.
Also deserving to be visited are the churches of Misericórdia (Renaissance), Pópulo (17th-18th centuries) and of Nossa Senhora Branca (18th century). On the outskirts, 5 km away from the center, stands the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, with its monumental Baroque staircase; the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Sameiro; the ancient Monastery of Tibães, dating back to the Suevian period and rebuilt in the 11th century, and the Church of São Frutuoso de Montélios (7th century Visigothic temple).

Bragança - Majestic city, with medieval castle and walls, amongst which is the Domus Municipalis, a unique example of civic Romanesque architecture. Special mention must be made to the Cathedral (16th century), Santa Maria Church, Casa da Misericórdia Chapel, Santa Clara Convent and Church (16th century), São Bento Convent and Church (17th-18th centuries), and the Abade de Baçal Museum. At the Railways Museum, 19th century locomotives and carriages.
Accommodation: Pousada São Bartolomeu

Cabeceiras de Basto - contains various splendid manor houses, dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and what is considered the best of the statues of the region, O Basto. Made of granite and representing the body of a warrior, it is assumed that it was built before the coming of the Romans; after the Napoleonic wars it gained, as a joke, the head of a French soldier. However, the main attraction of Cabeceiras de Basto is the ancient and splendid monastery of Refojos, with a dome that stands 33 meters (110 feet) high and statues of the Apostles and the archangel Michael.

Caminha - the ancient fortress town of Caminha overlooks the river Minho and is rich in historical and architectural patrimony. The whole town is appealing, with its manorial houses and Medieval defensive walls that seem to whisper old tales and legends, the Gothic mother church, the attractive main square with popular cafés and exhibiting the 15th century Clock Tower, a Renaissance fountain and the 15th century mansion of Solar dos Pitas, with seven fine Manueline windows on the upper storey.

Chaves - The 14th-century keep of Chaves castle overlooks the town's medieval square - Praça de Camões. Within the castle keep is a small military museum where suits of armour, uniforms and other regalia are on display. On the south side stands the parish church with its fine Romanesque portal. The Baroque Misericórdia church opposite has an exquisite interior lined with 18th-century azulejo glazed tiles. A few minutes on foot from the city center is one of the hottest springs in Europe. Water here bubbles up at a temperature of 73ºC (163º F). The spa's facilities attract both tourists and people seeking the treatment of rheumatism, kidney disfuntion and hypertension.

Freixo de Espada a Cinta - it is imperative to visit the Manueline Mother Church with its exquisite 16th-century portal which leads the visitor into a rich interior, resembling a small version of the Jerónimos Monastery, at Lisbon. The panels of the altarpiece are attributed to the brilliant Grão Vasco (1475-1540) and include a beautiful "Annunciation". The pillory, also Manueline, is one of the best preserved and most interesting of the country, and the Misericórdia Church is also worth admiring, with its Gothic niche over the main doorway.

Guimarães - Portugal's birthplace, with medieval castle and walls, houses a magnificently well preserved historic center. In the cloisters of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira is the Alberto Sampaio Museum; in the cloister of São Domingos Convent is the Martins Sarmento Museum; and in the ancient Dominican Convent is the Sacred Art Museum. Also deserving special mention are the medieval palace of the Dukes of Bragança (15th century), the Church of São Miguel (Romanesque), the Church of Santos Passos (Baroque), and the Monastery of Santa Marinha da Costa (a pousada). Nearby lies the early settlement of Briteiros.
Accommodation: Pousada Nossa Senhora da Oliveira
Pousada Santa Marinha

Lamego - From the heart of a verdant park rises the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, with its magnificent Baroque staircase (686 steps). Medieval monuments: castle, tower-fortress (12th-13th centuries) and Almacave Church. Also worthwhile visiting are the Renaissance churches of Chagas and Santa Cruz, and the Regional Museum. In Balsemão, the chapel of Suevian-Byzantine origin (7th century).

Melgaço - the small and tranquil town of Melgaço grew around a fortress built by order of Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal (1139-85).
The castle, now a national monument, has an impressive keep and dominates the labyrinth of ancient streets and alleys that cross each other within the walls.

Mesão Frio - although small, the town of Mesão Frio is worth visiting to admire the ancient pillory, the fine mother church of São Nicolau (rebuilt in 1877, it kept the magnificent 16th-century ceiling panels, each one featuring the portrait of a saint) or the cloisters of the former 18th-century Franciscan monastery (Convento de São Francisco) which now shelters the tourist office and the Town Hall.

Mirandela - it is worth visiting the 17th-century Mother Church and the Town Hall, also dating from the 17th century and which used to be the ancient palace of the Távoras (this important family was accused of attempting regicide in 1759 and all trace of them was eliminated from the town). The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Amparo (Our Lady of Comfort) offers wonderful views of the environs.

Mogadouro -one can still admire the pillory, the 16th-century Mother Church (with a 17th-century tower and interesting gilded retables from the 18th century decorating the altars), some curious mansions (although not too well preserved) and the Convent of St. Francis, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and with paintings worthy of record.

Murça -it is worth admiring the magnificent pillory in front of the Town Hall, which was once a convent of Benedictine nuns and stands near the Mother Church, built between 1707 and 1734. The facade of the Misericórdia Church is equally interesting.

Ponte de Barca - Jardim dos Poetas ( Garden of two Poets) lodges some of the main monuments and is ideal for picnics or for taking a stroll due to its tranquil atmosphere and bucolic scenery. Near the river, the large open-air market also attracts many visitors.

Ponte de Lima - the town is named after the bridge which crosses the River Lima into the town. This historical bridge has 24 arches of which four on the south bank is the original roman construction. Worth seeing is the Parish Church, built under orders given by King D. João in 1425 who also ordered the government to provide the finance. It was restored and enlarged during he reigns of King Duarte and King Alfonso VI

Porto - The North's most important city lent its name to the famous wine and to Portugal. One must stroll around its typical quarters (especially the area on the waterside the "zona ribeirinha") and its bustling downtown. To visit: the Stock Exchange Palace, the Roman-Gothic Cathedral, the Church of Cedofeita (Romanesque), the Clérigos Tower (Oporto's ex-libris) and Church; the Church of São Francisco, of Romanesque origin and with its gilded carvings, and the Church of Carmo, with its tiled facades. Museums: Soares dos Reis, Casa de Serralves, Casa Museu de Guerra Junqueiro. One should not miss a visit to the wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia and free tasting of the famous port wine. Guided Tour
Accommodation: Hotel Beta Porto ****, Tiara Park Atlantic Porto*****, Pestana Porto****, Pousada do Freixo - Porto *****

Póvoa de Varzim - is both a traditional fishing town and cosmopolitan summer resort for the people of northern Portugal. At one end is the port and picturesque fishermen's quarter, where the men arrange their brightly-painted boats and the womenfolk quietly sit mending their husbands' nets. A small 18th-century fort guards Póvoa de Varzim's busy harbour. The town's parish church was built between 1743 and 1757, while the church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa dates back to 1772.

Santo Tirso - Santo Tirso grew around the former monastery of São Bento, founded by the Benedictines in the 8th century, later rebuilt and then modified in the 17th century.
The monastery is now an agricultural college and also lodges de Abade Pedrosa Museum, exhibiting local archaeological findings such as stone axes and ceramics.

Torre de Montecorvo -The town of Torre de Montecorvo is proud of its maze of Medieval streets, and specially of the magnificent 16th-century Mother Church, with an altarpiece from the 17th century depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Of the castle, little remains except for some ruins of the walls and the curious Our Lady of Remedies Arch.

Viana do Castelo - Spread along the north bank of the Lima estuary (where one can take trips on typical boats), this town is famous for its handicrafts and colourful regional costumes. Deserving special mention are the mother-church, the ancient Paços do Concelho (both Gothic), Casa da Misericórdia (Renaissance with a sacred art treasure), the medieval Casa dos Arcos, the Convent of Santa Ana (16th century), and the Regional Museum. Up above and dominating the city is the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia, with a fantastic view of Viana, the river and the ocean.
Accommodation: Pousada Monte de Sta Luzia, Paço d'Anha (Self Catering)

Vila do Conde - Ancient medieval shipyard. Interesting architectonic places to visit such as the mother-church (Manueline), the Santa Clara Convent (18th century), the Misericórdia Church (Renaissance), the Aqueduct, and St. John the Baptist Fortress. This town is also famous for its lace.

Vila Praia de Âncora - In the heart of the beautiful garden that is the Minho, the perfect setting between the sea, the countryside, the rivers and the mountains.
The region has numerous megaliths, castles and fortresses.
Accommodation: Hotel Meira ****

Vila Nova de Cerveira - the small walled town of Vila Nova de Cerveira was founded in 1320 by king Dinis, after whom the magnificent pousada, installed in the 16th-century castle, has been named. It is worth visiting the Mother Church and the Misericórdia Chapel.
Accommodation: Pousada Dom Diniz

Vila Pouca de Aguiar - an ancient town, it exhibits several fine houses and manors, such as the Casa do Cimo da Rua (literally, "House of the Top of the Street"). At the foot of the Padrela mountain, inserted in the green landscape, the small and graceful Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Conception offers a superb panorama of the town and of the fertile plains of the Aguiar valley.

Vila Real - founded in 1272, its monuments reflect the city's long history. A town with great diversity of religious architecture: Cathedral and São Brás Chapel (Gothic); churches of São Pedro and Misericórdia (16th century), São Dinis (16-18th centuries) and the Baroque Capela Nova and Clérigos Church. Also worthwhile visiting is the famous Mateus Palace, a Baroque masterpiece, where cultural events are currently held.

Vimioso - lying in a remote and untamed region, Vimioso was a defensive frontier outpost at the birth of Portugal as a nation. At the town of Vimioso almost nothing is left of the castle, but it is worth admiring the characteristic Mother Church (completed in 1570) with its two towers and splendid ceiling, the pillory and the emblazoned houses

Other places of interest Alijo (Pousada), Arcos de Valdevez, Cinfães, Carrazedo, Espinho (casino), Esposende, Ermesinde, Fafe, Marco de Canaveses, Marão (Pousada), Meda, Moimenta da Beira, Paços de Ferreira, Penafiel, Peneda-Gerês National Park (Pousada), Penedono, Santa Maria de Bouro, Tarouca, Tabuaça, Valença do Minho (Pousada), Vieira do Minho, Vila Nova de Gaia, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Vila Verde


In the Costa Verde region, one finds all the delicious northern dishes as the "caldo verde", the codfish, pork filets ("rojões"), duck with rice, as well as other typical regional meals. In Viana do Castelo, the rice with codfish and the octopus "à Margarida da Praça" style. In Caminha, the steamed conger-eel, the whiting and the bream. In Paredes de Couro, the codfish "Miquelina" style;: in Monção, the roasted kid, the shad and the lamprey; in Melgaço, the smoked hams; in Oporto, the famous tripe.

On the dessert side, one can relish the rich and varied pastries traditionally baked by the nuns - "S. Gonçalo" and "papos de anjo", the "doce de travessa", the "arroz doce" (sweet rice) and the "aletria", the "rabanadas", "sonhos" and "mexidos" (popovers and sweet dumplings), the delicious "pão de ló" and the egg yolk and almond paste based pastries. As for as drinks are concerned, the Port wines and the Vinhos Verde are a must.


Holy Week Festivities - Braga
St. John's Festivities - Oporto, June
St. Torquatus Pilgrimage - Guimarães, July
Senhora da Agonia Festivities - Viana do Castelo, August
Festivities of Senhora do Amparo and São Tiago Fair - Mirandela, July-August


Embroideries, linen, textiles and tapestry.
Jewelry and filigree.
Popular ceramics and pottery.
Works in wood, leather, copper, tin, wrought iron, wicker and osier.


The following accommodation resources have their home page:
Tiara Park Atlantic Porto***** - Porto
Hotel Beta Porto **** - Porto
Pestana Porto**** - Porto
Pousada Porto ***** - Porto
Hotel Bagoeira**** - Barcelos
Hotel Meira **** - Vila Praia de Âncora
Pousada Barão de Forrester - Alijo
Pousada de Dom Diniz - Vila Nova de Cerveira
Pousada do Monte de Santa Luzia - Viana do Castelo
Pousada Nossa Senhora da Oliveira - Guimarães
Pousada Santa Mara do Bouro - Amares
Pousada Santa Marinha - Guimarães
Pousada São Bartolomeu - Bragança
Pousada São Bento - Peneda-Gerês National Park
Pousada São Gonçalo - Marão
Pousada São Teotónio - Valença do Minho
Self catering

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Northern Portugal