It is one of the most beautiful regions of the country and also one of the best preserved.
It dazzles for its beauty, for the landscapes, rivers, waterfalls and preserved villages.
The Peneda-Gerês National Park comprises 4 mountain ranges (Gerês, Peneda, Soajo, and Amarela) but everyone calls it “Gerês”.
1. Castro Laboreiro
The village also has a millennial and rich historical, archaeological and architectural legacy, namely the megalithic monuments, Castro Laboreiro Castle – classified as a national monument -, medieval bridges and churches, community ovens, mills, agro-pastoral activity and the singular soft, invert and fixed places, witnesses, also here, of the practice of transhumance.
The region’s forests are dominated by oaks. There are also the arbutus, the holly, the azereiro, the pine, and the birch. Shrub bushes are characteristic of higher areas and are mainly made up of gorse, heather, and giestas. The most representative animal species are the boar, deer, badger, and otter. In the village, visitors can find accommodation resulting from the recovery of typical houses castrejas and mills.
2. Nossa Senhora of Peneda
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda, in Arcos de Valdevez, in the parish of Gavieira, on the way to the village of Melgaço, has a probable date of its beginning, at the end of the 18th century, judging by the date inscribed in the column at the top access staircase. It is believed that in this place there was a small hermitage built to remember the apparition of Senhora da Peneda, whose cult was growing and motivated the construction of the sanctuary.
This place of worship is constituted by the designated staircase of the virtues, with statuary representing Faith, Hope, Charity and Glory, dating from 1854, the main church, completed in 1875, the great terreiro, the evangelists’ terreiro and the staircase with about 300 meters and 20 chapels, with scenes of the life of Christ. The Feast of the Lady of Peneda is annual, lasts a week, between August 31 and September 8.
Soajo, one of the most typical Portuguese villages, belongs to the municipality of Arcos de Valdevez and is located on one of the slopes of the Peneda mountain range, which is part of the Peneda-Gerês National Park. The village was a village and county seat between 1514 and the mid-nineteenth century, but its history begins much earlier, as evidenced by the Rock Sanctuary of Gião in the Soajo mountain range, and the countless tapirs and mamoes that exist in this area.
It has a large set of granaries (classified as a property of public interest) erected on a gigantic granite slab and which, even today, are used to dry corn, by the people of the land. While walking the streets paved with granite slabs notice the typical houses built on the same material. Enjoy the House of the House, the House of Enes, the Parish Church of São Martinho do Soajo, the mill in ruins and the pillory. Look out over the medieval sidewalk that provides a panoramic view of the village. The numerous tourist houses here were born from the restoration of old buildings. They are beautifully restored spaces that have kept the traditional traces and provide comfortable stays in Peneda-Gerês Park.
4. Plow Cascade
Located in the heart of the amazing Peneda-Gerês National Park, the Cascade of the Arado is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Park, which fascinates those who admire this marvel of nature.
The watercourse of the Arado River originates places of great beauty, as is the case of the waterfall, which in the summer months, especially at weekends, is very frequented by those who want a refreshing bath. The Cascade of the Plow is located at an altitude of about 900 meters, creating a succession of unique waterfalls, where the pure water of the mountain faces the rock hard, full of beauty.
Lindoso, in the parish with the same name of the municipality of Ponte da Barca, is a tourist village known and visited by many people. The castle and the set of granaries that it presents enhance this rural nucleus, inserted in the National Park of Peneda-Gerês, from which a sublime landscape can be glimpsed over the Lindoso reservoir.
In addition to the castle, the village of Lindoso presents a valuable built heritage, which includes the pillory, granaries and communal areas, the castle cruise, the medieval bridge and the water mills of Parada, medieval sidewalks, the citadel of Cidadelhe and the churches parishes of São Mamede, Santa Maria Madalena and Santo André, as well as the Peneda-Gerês National Park.
6. Mata da Albergaria
Located between Caldas do Gerês and Portela do Homem, this botanical reserve houses an important natural oak tree so that although it can be walked on foot, it is subject to special protection measures.
The road that crosses the forest and accompanies the Roman route extends along the left bank of the dam of Vilarinho das Furnas, ending at Campo do Gerês. Besides its ecological value, it has an important historical value, because the remains of a Roman Geira, with its milestones, are visible in this place.
7. Pitons of the Júnias
Located in the heart of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, in the beautiful municipality of Montalegre, Pitões das Júnias is one of the most traditional and picturesque villages in the region, which has managed to maintain its small population and the medieval aspect of stone buildings , being one of the main tourist attractions of this region in the summer months, already counting on some ecological tourism units.
The origin of this original village is confused with that of the Monastery of Santa Maria das Júnias, located in an isolated valley, consecrated to the Lady of the Nails that ended up becoming Senhora das Júnias. The year 1147 will be the probable date of the foundation of the monastery of the Júnias, as the date engraved on the church wall attests. It is known that the incorporation in the important Order of Cistercian occurred in the century. XIII, being this the most isolated Cistercian establishment that is known.
8. Mizarela Bridge
The Bridge of the Mizarela (Devil’s Bridge) is located on the river Rabagão, about a kilometer from its mouth in the Cávado river, in the parish of Ruivães, municipality of Vieira do Minho, district of Braga, Portugal. It connects the parishes of Ruivães to the one of Ferral, in the county of Montalegre.
It is planted in the bottom of a steep canyon, resting on the cliffs and with some altitude in relation to the river bed, being supported by a single arch with about 13 meters of span. It was erected in the Middle Ages and rebuilt in the early 19th century.
9. Monastery of Pitões
Monastery of Pitões das Júnias or Santa Maria de Júnias has no definite date for its foundation but is presumed to be located at the end of the 9th century, when hermits settled in this region, then coming to organize themselves in communities. On the other hand, in view of an unclear inscription on a wall of these ruins, it is assumed by some scholars that the date of the foundation of the monastery is 1147, but it already existed with certainty in 1247, when Pope Innocent IV summons the monastery to join in the Cistercian order, happening to depend on the Monastery of Santa Maria of the Bouro.
During the Restoration War of Portuguese Independence, after 1640, an attack by the Spanish army on the village of Pitones ended with a fire that left the monastery in ruins, with the exception of the church. The convent was to be recovered and as early as the eighteenth century, there is information that accounts for important works in the convent area, however with the extinction of religious orders, in 1834, the convent is abandoned and a few years later it triggers a fire that only leaves the church standing. From this small convent, the walls of the main compartments remain to a few arches of the cloister, the church still has the roof, but it has an aspect of abandonment, although works have already been done by the General Directorate of Buildings and National Monuments.
10. Geira Romana
Geira is the name by which is known the route of communication, built by the Roman Empire, in the dynasty of flávios, that linked Braga to Astorga and that passes in the county of Terras de Bouro in an extension of about 30 km (miles XIV and XXXIV).
The construction of these routes was of extreme importance to the Roman empire, for, beyond the varied uses for which they served, the most important was undoubtedly the passage of their armies, at a time when the conquests were of utmost importance for the growth and maintenance of the empire.