Previously we have talked about the 'pearl of Côa Valley': its 25.000-year-old paintings. However, this region is so rich that it well-deserves another story about it! Just within the municipality of Vila Nova de Foz de Côa, you can sail the Douro river, climb to incredible viewpoints, discover old castles, find extravagant mansions, and, of course, taste the most famous Portuguese wine: the Porto!
A good wine is like a good movie. It lasts a moment and leaves a taste of glory (Federico Fellini)
At Freixo de Numão, you can climb to the old village called Castelo Velho, and enjoy the magnificent view from the top. If you are into history, you should know that it was inhabited at least during the III and II millennium BCE. When you are up there, you will understand the reason why it was inhabited that early. From the top, you can see anyone approaching from miles away! However, archaeologists are not very sure yet of the exact function of the village. There are a few villages like this one in the Peninsula, and they remain a mystery. One thing is sure: they were the first Iberian cities! Some platforms at the site allow the visitor to get a better view of the ruins.
Among other nearby remains is Prazo, with its Medieval church and Roman villa. The church has a tomb right next to its wall that looks like a hot tub. A wide Roman path (Regadas), other villages such as Zimbro II and Rumansil, and some inscriptions found in the area make it very probable that underneath Freixo de Numão lies a Roman city. Of course, they are not going to tear down the houses, so for now, we know very little about it. You can see the findings at the local museum, a surprisingly stylish mansion: Casa Grande Museum hosts more Roman remains at its backyard and a beautiful Baroque façade.
The Côa Valley has always been great for vineyards. Romans knew it and have left here, and there some stone winepresses. Nowadays, the municipality of Vila Nova de Foz de Côa is part of the Douro wine denomination.
To me, a great day in this area would start with a hike in the morning. There are many hiking paths, and they are well signalized. You can see all about hiking at the following link:
Afterwards, you can take the boat “Senhora da Veiga” and sail across the Douro. You can have lunch there if you want to. A Porto wine with the dessert is a must! Finally, visit Prazo and finish the day at Castelo Velho, enjoying the sunset from there. What a unique region this is!
If you have some extra time, here are some additional tips! The castle of Numão is another beautiful viewpoint. As a border castle, it has suffered a lot over history. However, you can still appreciate how important it must have been during the wars between the Moorish and the Christians, the Spanish, and the Portuguese. You do not understand how big it is until you enter the gate. Inside the roofless tower, you can imagine the life of the local knights: there is even a Romanesque church in a decent state.
Another safe choice is Castelo Melhor, another nearby village; its castle is planted on the hill like a crown. You can at least stop to take a pic on your way to Almendra, another village with cute baroque houses which were really in fashion at the time!
There are three churches there worth a visit. These two places are between the Douro and the Côa rivers, so there are many beautiful spots, with great viewpoints to take amazing photos.
I am just in love with this region, and there are no words to really express its beauty. I suggest you just go and see for yourself! You have absolutely everything you can wish for: rivers, sweet wine, plenty of historical places, viewpoints for 'killer photos,' a boat for a romantic ride… I mean, what else could you ask for? A trip around the Côa Valley would be absolutely memorable!
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