Douro Valley

Overview

Introduction

Traversing Portugal's wine country, the Douro River valley makes for a wonderful scenic drive—interesting villages with ancient churches line the way. In its lower reaches, the Douro carves a deep, meandering canyon between rounded hills that are spectacularly stepped and terraced. Not an inch of usable land is wasted.

Towns along the valley include Lamego (museum with early Christian art, Romanesque cathedral and 13th-century castle ruins), Pinhao (the center of the wine industry—some vineyards are open for sampling) and Sao Joao da Pesqueira (an isolated but lovely village). Among the examples of Romanesque and Cistercian architecture is the stunning Sao Joao de Tarouca monastery.

Branching off from the Douro Valley is the Coa Valley, the world's largest open-air rock art site with stunning examples of Paleolithic engravings in situ along the banks of the rivers and streams.

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