1st DAY: Start your day with discovering the Church of Saint Vincent of Sousa, which was part of a convent whose construction was completed in the 13th century, as proven by the inscription next to the north portal which dates its solemn consecration in 1214. Next stop: the Monastery of Saint Mary of Pombeiro, one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in the Entre Douro-e-Minho region. Despite the extensive work it underwent in the 17th and 18th centuries, the original plan, the apse chapels and the main portal of this medieval building were preserved. The main portal’s capitals are a remarkable example of Portuguese Romanesque sculpture. Visit the House of the ‘Pão-de-Ló’ of Margaride. Taste the famous ‘Pão de Ló’ (sponge cake) and the ‘Cavacas’ of Margaride, in their House Museum in Felgueiras, and admire the huge woodfired ovens, built in 1730, on the occasion of its foundation. More than a military building, the Tower of Vilar is a symbol of the manorial power over the territory and our next stop on the route. It proves the existence of a domus fortis (stronghold), a fortified manorial residence, in the Tâmega and Sousa territory. The Church of the Monastery of Saint Peter of Ferreira is one of the most unique Portuguese Romanesque monuments. In addition to the excellence of its architecture, this church harmoniously combines facades and ornamental motifs from different regions and schools. Time to visit the Quinta de Lourosa, which produces the famous ‘Vinho Verde’. A typical dinner with entertainment by a traditional Portuguese folk group ends the day.
2nd DAY: Visit the Interpretative Center of Arnoia and Castle of Arnoia, a Romanesque Castle overlooking the ancient land of Basto. Below, the old town of Basto with its pillory, audience house and apothecary (pharmacy) reminds us of the period when this was a busy place due to the road that connected the Sousa to the Tâmega. The Church of Saint John the Baptist of Gatão is a monument that marks a chronological construction arc that ranges between the 13th and the 14th centuries, emerging as a building that combines Romanesque elements with other elements that already announce the Modern Period. It stands out from the landscape due to its isolated location, which adds to its uniqueness. After lunch, visit the Historical Centre of Amarante. The typical streets, the Convent of Saint Gonçalo and the bridge over the river Tâmega will certainly surprise you! The famous convent pastry of Amarante, available in the local bakeries, will awaken your gluttony. Time to visit the Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso Museum which holds a vast collection of writers and artists. Through the historic center of the city, cross the bridge over the Tâmega river, visit the Convent of São Gonçalo and taste, among other conventual sweets, the curious São Gonçalo cake. Will you manage not to laugh? The Monastery of the Saviour of Travanca stands out within the Portuguese Romanesque heritage due to its unusual size, the importance of its sculptural decoration and the extraordinary tower with the beautiful portal depicting the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). Travanca was one of the most important monasteries in the Entre-Douro-e-Minho region in the Middle Ages and long after that period. Be sure not to miss hearing some of the Gregorian music!
3rd DAY: A visit to the Monastery of Saint Peter of Cête still shows how ancient the roots of the territorial organization of the parish are. It also clarifies the important role that the religious orders have played in the formation and consolidation of the kingdom. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the period of the Reconquest, the presence of a church was the best sign of the territory’s organization and population. The Memorial of Ermida is a type of monument of which there are only six examples left in the whole of Portugal. These monuments are associated either with burial places, or with the evocation of someone’s memory, or even with the passage of funeral processions. Legend has it that this was one of the stops of the procession that carried the body of D. Mafalda – the granddaughter of King D. Afonso Henriques – to the Monastery of Arouca. Enjoy a regional lunch in Penafiel! Next, we visit the Monastery of Saint Mary of Vila Boa do Bispo, the crown jewel of an important historical legacy; its foundation is associated with the Gascos (or the Ribadouros) lineage, whose manorial power was based in this region after the Reconquest. The Romanesque church, of which there are only a few remains, was probably built between the 12th and 13th centuries. Currently, besides the tombs, we find medieval expressions in the decoration of the main facade that suggest that this was a unique specimen of Portuguese Romanesque architecture. Being part of a series of typically Portuguese remembrance monuments that possibly date back to the 13th century, of which only six examples remain, the Memorial of Alpendorada stands out for its good state of repair. Although it doesn’t have any inscriptions, this funerary monument with a double mortuary cavity is known to have been built to pay homage to a knight, as indicated by the sword engraved on the plinth that serves as a base for the arch. It’s now time for relaxation and to enjoy the landscape of the Tâmega river in the Torrão Dam. The Memorial of Sobrado is a funerary monument composed of two vertical stones with engraved crosses that support two horizontal slabs. The upper one is rectangular while the lower one, which corresponds to a sepulchral lid, has a round surface.
4th DAY: Start the day with a visit to the Church of Saint Andrew of Vila Boa de Quires. This church, whose origin was associated with a monastery, was built in the second quarter of the 13th century. The highlight is its main façade, composed of a portal and a large window, with capitals carved with symmetrical, plant-like motifs. The south façade shows a richly ornamented portal, stylistically inspired in the Romanesque style that spread from the Monastery of Paço de Sousa (Penafiel). The interventions made in the 18th and 19th centuries are clearly visible in the interior, especially in the altars and the paintings on the chancel’s vault. Next stop: Monastery of Saint Andrew of Ancede. Ancede is the legacy of an important economic and cultural centre; it was a church and monastery of the Canons Regular, after having belonged to the Dominicans. It became an important territory in 1141 and, from the old Romanesque church, only the rose window and part of the chancel’s lateral walls remain. In the churchyard, the Chapel of the Lord of the Good Delivery is a remarkable theatre where small stages narrate the life of Christ; it is an example of the importance of this monastery during the Baroque period. Discover the Interpretive Centre of Vine and Wine installed in one of its dependencies and enjoy a wine and regional pastry tasting. After lunch in Baião learn about the life and work of Eça de Queiroz by visiting the House of Tormes, the setting of the book “A Cidade e as Serras” (“The City and the Mountains”) at the Eça de Queiroz Foundation. Last stop of the day is the Church of Saint James of Valadares. This church fits into the late Romanesque style and was built in the late 13th century, perhaps on the ruins of an older construction. Located in a luxurious valley, it combines the medieval language of the plain external walls with the Baroque grammar that, inside, marks the entire space. Between the two chronologies, we find the murals that were painted on the chancel’s lateral and back walls in the 15th century; they were probably commissioned by D. João Camelo de Sousa, one of this Church’s abbots.
5th DAY: Check out and visit the Monastery of Saint Mary of Cárquere. Cárquere, the pantheon of the Resendes lineage, has a few elements from its original Romanesque structure: a tower and a crevice on the pantheon. Here we find one of the most peculiar themes in the Portuguese Romanesque style: the beak-heads. Although the church’s interior grew based on a medieval structure, it is the result of the Gothic and Mannerist interventions that left us the chancel’s ribbed vault as well as the main and north lateral portals. In perfect harmony with nature, we are now going to the Bridge of Panchorra. It has two arches with a horizontal platform and connects the banks of the river Cabrum, in the heart of the Montemuro mountain range, at approximately 1.000 metres above sea level. Built in the Modern Period, this is an important legacy of collective work and traditional architecture that was built to allow the traffic of agricultural vehicles, people and cattle in the region of Panchorra, a village of medieval origin that became autonomous before the 16th century as a parish dedicated to Saint Lawrence. After a regional lunch in Cinfães visit the Valede Papas, a serene village, which integrates the network ‘Aldeias de Portugal’. The set of granite houses, many of them still with thatched roofs, gives a special grace to this preserved village of the parish of Ramires. From the monastery of Benedictine nuns, only the old Church of Saint Mary Major of Tarouquela remains; it was built in the 13th century and Romanesque influence is very present in its decorations: the beak-heads of the triumphal arch, two men with a single head, serpents and mermaids. Being a rich monastery, it was coveted by many people who wanted to achieve prestige and power through it. From the Resendes lineage to the Pintos’, its valuable heritage is the legacy of a path that came to an end in the 16th century. The Church of Saint Christopher of Nogueira is located halfway up a hill and seems to have been built or rebuilt over a pre-existing structure (from the 12th – 13th century), thus feeding the legend that says that the old church was entirely moved in one night by strong Moors. The existing building belongs to the category of churches that show aesthetic diversity, the highlight being the interventions carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries, which redefined its interior, particularly through the construction of lateral altars and a decorated coffered ceiling.