The Douro Valley, Portugal. May 2019. (12 photos)
From Porto I spent a day in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site and major wine and port producing region of Portugal. Much of the Douro Valley region’s appeal lies in its remarkable landscape. The so-called ‘river of gold’ winds across the north of Portugal through a seemingly endless series of undulating slopes. In the heart of the Douro Valley, these hills are cultivated to form striped vineyards while other areas remain rugged and untamed.
My first stop in the Douro Valley was the small village of Provesende. High in the hills, a visit to this tiny village (above) rewards the visitor with the ambience of an old remote Portuguese town, vistas across vine covered slopes and an ornately decorated small local church…
“A church in Provesende”
Unexpectedly ornate for a small church in a village with a population of about 300.
From Provesende, a narrow dirt road with several tight and blind turns along steep hillsides offered magnificent views across the Douro Valley. My friend Francisco was driving and he did offer me an alternate route if this kind of road/driving would unsettle me. I told him to bring it on, and videoed parts of the drive as we went along.
“Douro Valley landscapes”
“A long rock wall”
I was instantly reminded of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption:
Andy: It’s got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It’s like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It’s where I asked my wife to marry me… find that spot. At the base of that wall, you’ll find a rock that has no earthly business in a hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There’s something buried under it I want you to have.
Sadly, I didn’t find anything at all.
“Pinhao Train Station”
Further along, in the heart of port wine country is the riverside town of Pinhao. One of its main points of interest is the train station.
“Azulejos of Pinhao”
The walls of the train station are adorned with numerous scenes of history on azulejos.
“On the Douro”
I took a boat ride along the Douro River for a different perspective of the countryside.
Leaving Pinhao I visited a local Quinta (estate) for some magnificent views and a tasting of 3 ports.
“Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption”
A final stop was made in Lamego, in the Norte Region of the Douro. Located on the shores of the Balsemão River, and with origins from before the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, Lamego is known for its historic city center. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lamego is based in the city centre. Naturally enough there is a beautiful cathedral with gold and azulejos decorations inside. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption was built in 1129.
Oh, there’s also a 13th century castle I visited, and a cistern built into vaulted stone dating back to times of Arab rule.
“Along the avenue”
From the Cathedral there’s a broad avenue with a central plaza containing numerous sculptures. There’s a very nice pastelaria just to the right in the photo above. The avenue leads to the base of the path which climbs to the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, perhaps the most striking feature of Lamego. In the background you can see the zigzagging stairs leading past many decorative features…
“The way up”
… such as this azulejos frieze. And yes, I made it to the top.
This is Part 10 of this photographic series and Part 6 of the posts about Portugal.