Douro Valley, Portugal

The Douro (UK: /ˈdʊəroʊ, ˈdʊəruː/, US: /ˈdɔːruː, ˈdɔːroʊ, ˈdoʊru/, Portuguese: ˈdo(w)ɾu; Spanish: Duero (ˈdweɾo); Latin: Durius) is home to the Douro River, the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula flowing eight hundred and ninety-seven kilometers from the Spanish town of Duruelo de la Sierra to Porto, the second city in Portugal. The Alto Douro, perhaps the most beautiful wine region in the world, has already received a UNESCO World Heritage status.

Over the centuries man has formed the ondulating landscape with the construction of countless grapevine terraces that produce a patchwork of striped patterns on almost every hillside. Because the vine leaves change with the seasons, so does the scenery. For 100 and twelve kilometers, the river forms a part of the border between Spain and Portugal. Within the past, impassable canyons formed a barrier against marauding armies. Today this wild and delightful frontier landscape is protected by the authority of the Douro Internacional Park.

The Douro River (Douro Valley)

In the 8th century, the river basin was depopulated, according to Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz this was a deliberate act by Alfonso I of Asturias for the protection of his Kingdom, which led to the region being called Repoblation. Harvest time, which is typically around mid-September, attracts an increasing number of tourists wishing to participate in harvest activities like treading grapes barefoot in traditional granite wine vats. Many of the wine estates (Quintas) have opened their doors to wine tourism and are offering year-round tours and tastings. The Douro has thus become a popular day trip destination from Porto, though there is more to see and do than drink wine.

Its overall length is 897 kilometers (557 mi), of which only parts of the Portuguese extension are navigable below the autumn line, by light rivercraft. The Alto (upper) the Douro, also known as the Douro Vinhateiro, is dominated by large hillside placards bearing the names of popular Port producers such as Cockburns, Taylors, and Sandeman. The spectacular landscape is characterized by improbably steep terraces covered in vines and dotted with wine-producing farms called Quintas (where it’s often possible to urge a bed for the night). Hills fall steeply to the water’s edge and therefore the region becomes more and more sparsely populated because it travels inland from the coast.

The river for 112 kilometers (70 mi), in an area of narrow canyons, forms part of the national boundary between Spain and Portugal. It created a historic disruptive barrier, establishing a cultural/linguistic divide. In these isolated areas, in which the Aldeadávila Dam impounds the river, there are protected areas: the International Douro Natural Park (on the Portuguese side) and the Arribes del Duero Natural Park (on the Zamoran margin). The 112-kilometer (70 mi) river, in a region of narrow canyons, forms part of Spain’s national boundary with Portugal. It established a historical obstacle to change, creating a cultural/linguistic divide.

A boat ride on the mighty Douro River provides a fresh viewpoint of the unrivaled scenery while the towns and villages are packed with medieval and Baroque architecture, majestic monasteries, hilltop sanctuaries, and cute chapels. Museums display local traditions including the processing of wine and olive oil, as well as local bread. The Douro Alto was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, in recognition of the spectacular great thing about both the natural and built landscape and therefore the industrial heritage related to the Port producing industry. The Douro Vinhateiro maybe a microclimate where olives, almonds, and grapes all grow easily.

Fifteen dams were constructed on the Douro to control the flow of water, produce hydroelectric power, and permit navigation via locks. The first 5 dams are in Spain, beginning at the headwaters: Cuerda del Pozo, Los Rábanos, San José, Villalcampo, and Castro Dams. The next five downstream are along the Portuguese-Spanish border; the first three are owned and operated by Portugal: (Miranda, Picote, and Bemposta Dams), while the next two belong to Spain: (Aldeadávila and Saucelle Dams). Other towns worth visiting in the Douro Valley are Lamego, with the striking church and sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios reached through seven hundred zig-zagging steps up a steep hillside, and Vila Real, an important regional center and home to the Mateus Palace and public gardens.

 

Information Sources:

  1. travel-in-portugal.com
  2. roadaffair.com
  3. wikipedia