VIANA DO CASTELO, between the beach and the river

MINHO REGION : Viana do Castelo

By Ingrid Coifman | Publicado 6/08/2010

Discovering the north of Portugal can be a very rewarding experience. It’s a region of medieval hilltop villages and castles, as well as mountains for hiking and wineries to tour and imbibe in. Each city is unique and full of charm. Those willing to get lost in alleys and architecture can breathe in all the history and scenery, all the while learning new cultures and life styles.

The province of Minho occupies land between the Douro River in the south and the Minho River in the north. Known as the birthplace of the nation, Minho has two of Portugal’s most historic cities: its first capital, Guimarães, and Braga, the country’s main religious centre. Between Braga and the coast lies Barcelos, the ceramics centre of the region. Traveling north, the pretty town of Viana do Castelo is a useful base from which to explore the coast.

The best way to explore the town is on foot. By LML

Viana do Castelo is known for its striking architecture. The buildings date from different periods, many originated in the 16th century. Viana’s boulevards and narrow alleyways are inspired by Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Deco architecture. In Praça da República, you can explore Misericórdia fountain, Paços do Concelho, and the Romanesque Cathedral.

Besides the medieval appeal, Viana is gifted with beaches just outside the centre. Due to its location next to the Atlantic Ocean and to the mouth of Lima River, the city has become a favourite spot for lovers of jet skiing, sailing, rowing and canoeing. There are numerous cycle paths along the coast and the river for bike riders to explore.

Many contemporary architects have helped shape the city’s public spaces more recently, including the Praça da Liberdade (Fernando Távora), the Library (Álvaro Siza Vieira), and the Cultural Center, (Souto de Moura).

Don’t Miss:

On the top of the “Monte de Santa Luzia”, stands the temple-monument called Lima’s Princess by its people. By LML

-Praia de Cabedelo, is an untouched bay with golden sands, dunes and waves;

-The Gil Eannes was a hospital ship that sailed off Newfoundland and Greenland, and supported cod-fishing;

-Try the Pescada à Vianense, which is cod, hake or other fish seasoned with lemon juice and garlic, then baked with sliced potatoes, sautéed garlic and onions. Viana is said to be the birth place of the famous Portuguese soup made with kale and potatoes “Caldo verde” ;

-Crockery: The most traditional craft of producing earthenware is sold in many local shops, as well as in the factory in Meadela.

 The wines of the vinho verde region have long been known for their vibrant fruit, low alcohol and refreshing qualities. By Shutterstock

The refreshing Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine that originated in the historic Minho province. Its name translates to “green wine” but actually means “young wine”. It may be red, white or rosé and are usually consumed soon after bottling.
Most Vinho Verde is a blend of green grapes, all indigenous to Portugal, but there are two predominant grapes that winemakers have been focusing lately: Alvarinho and Loureiro.
Comprised of nine sub-regions in the Douro Valley, the wine region starts just below the Portuguese-Spanish border, and extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The region is also fairly wet and rainy. Two rivers (Douro and Minho) run through this wine country.

Ingrid Coifman

Ingrid is journalist specializes in technology, economics, and tourism; her portfolio includes Culture TV, CBN Radio, McDonalds and Microsoft.

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