“Provesende”

The Douro Valley, Portugal. May 2019. (12 photos)

This is Part 6 of my Portugal 2019 photo series, and also Part 10 of my Europe 2019 photo series.

Recently I spent a month visiting France and Portugal, with a short visit to Singapore for good measure.

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.

“Douro moments”

“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.

“Quinta views”

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.

In May and June 2019, I visited France, Portugal and Singapore.

This is Part 10 of this photographic series and Part 6 of the posts about Portugal.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

A Day in the Douro Valley

Image

70 thoughts on “A Day in the Douro Valley

    • Thanks. Yes, azulejos are painted ceramic tiles, mostly in blue. They’re everywhere in Portugal, for decorative and functional reasons.
      No I didn’t. Would I admit to it? You can decide that for yourself. 🙂

  1. Heide says:

    Good for you, for letting Francisco take you on the “hair-raising” tour of this beautiful region! What a fascinating topography it has, and what interesting vegetation too. It’s a pity you didn’t find any little pieces of volcanic glass (à la Shwashank), but I dare say the treasures you did find along the way were even more memorable. Great post!

  2. I love this landscape, and especially when the vines turn autumnal. 🙂 🙂 Lamego is on my list for my next visit. Something much smaller but very beautiful exists at Vila Franca do Campo in the Azores.

  3. “with several tight and blind turns along steep hillsides” – I’d have to be the driver otherwise I would be terribly car sick! This looks like a lovely region and I am a big fan of wine from the Douro. Must try and get a trip there in the spring or autumn season. I quite fancy one of the river cruises.

    • Indeed, it is a beautiful area and you should visit. Portuguese vineyards and wines are all blends which is something I’m not used to in Australia, but I did enjoy drinking them. Especially the green wines, very refreshing on a warm day.

  4. Lovely. A glimpse of what I (mostly) missed.

    We’d taken a train through the Douro river, but the locomotive broke down. It took a very long time waiting for an alternative. The whole trainload of people eventually transferred to another train. But that kind of put paid to our planned day trip. The people are so friendly that it didn’t matter so much. Didn’t get photos, but had a lovely time chatting with people anyway.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you missed out on enjoying the beauty of this region. However, having experienced an hour on a broken down bus just north of Lisbon, I do know what you mean about the friendliness of the locals.

  5. That really is an intricate ornate church. As you might have discovered on your travels, the smaller and quieter the place, the more unusual and stunning things you find 🙂 Good on you for braving the winding roads 🙂

The Wood Dragon is listening...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.