This is a rubric that want to show to all clients and future clients of Benerent what they can visit in Portugal using rent-a-car service of Benerent, based on Parque das Nações, in Lisbon.
In the tenth edition of this rubric we will make known a county with a rich heritage, whether natural, cultural or gastronomic. It’s located in the North of Portugal and it’s bordered by Galicia: we will talk about Melgaço.
Melgaço is located about four and a half hours’ drive from Parque das Nações, in Lisbon, where is Benerent, your car rental service. In this image you can check the trip to Melgaço, as well as its location.
Largely known for its Alvarinho wine and its castle, Melgaço has much more to see.
The Castle of Melgaço was built in 1170, by order of D. Afonso Henriques, and was the main Portuguese defense against the spanish, defending the region of the Alto Minho of attacks from Galicia. One of the main characteristics of the castle is the fact that it has a circular shape, something out of the ordinary in Portugal.
Another historical place that deserves a visit is the old Monastery of Fiães. This Romanesque church stands out for the body of three naves and four sections, separated by longitudinal arches of perfect round arches. It also has the church facade with the coat of arms of Cistercian, the magnificent ogival portal of multiple archivolts and the interior of the church, paying special attention to the Mannerist altar. It’s classified as a National Monument.
If you are a fan of museum activities, you can’t miss the Melgaço Cinema Museum. Inaugurated in 2005, it has a collection collected throughout the life by the french Jean Loup Passek and donated to the county, counts on two expositions, one of permanent character and another temporary, distributed by the two floors of the building. The permanent exhibition is devoted to the pre-cinema, in other words, to the period before the Lumière brothers cinematograph.
Dedicated to the preservation of the recent history of the county, related to smuggling and emigration, Espaço Memória e Fronteira is another place with a mandatory visit. Inaugurated in 2007, it has a room dedicated to smuggling and a ramp, along which are depicted the various moments related to emigration, such as the causes, preparation of the trip and the trip, arrival and experience in the host country, without forgetting the repercussions of emigration in the county.
When you visit a new place, it’s common to want to carry out activities that accomplish it and that make you leave the routine. The county of Melgaço has a lot to offer in terms of activities, and we will give you some options.
If you want to know as much of the county as possible, in an attractive way, nothing like a pedestrian route, in this case the marginal courses of the Minho River. A course of about 6kms that contemplates the best conditions, presenting the best of either the urban plan or the natural plane, always by the river. The route begins in the center of the village of Melgaço and ends in the town of Peso, land of thermal waters that have long been recognized and appreciated.
Speaking of the Thermal Spa of Peso, is another place where you can practice relaxation activities, if that is what you are looking for in this trip. It’s endowed with spaces that, together with high quality equipment, complement each other perfectly for the practice of integrated treatments destined to the therapeutic indications provided by the water of Melgaço. The Melgaço thermal baths, with waters admired for their curative powers recognized over the years, are a true haven for the senses.
If you are looking for fun and adventure activities, the municipality of Melgaço has many options. We highlight the well-known MTB and horseback riding and the unusual Waterball (walking on water inside an inflatable ball) and Hidrospeed (sliding on water, on a board).
If your travel objective is to mix fun, music and gastronomy, the Festa do Alvarinho e Fumeiro de Melgaço is a great choice. It began in 1995 to present itself as a showcase of local products for local people, but over the years it has become a nationally recognized festival. No wonder, therefore, who in 2009 the Tourism of Portugal, has recognized its Interest for Tourism. All the producers of Alvarinho and Fumeiro of the county are present in an event unavoidable of the gastronomic celebrations of the country, attracting people of the diverse points of the national territory and also a great number of spanish, mainly of the neighboring Galicia.
As we have already mentioned earlier in this article, talking about Melgaço is the same as talking about Alvarinho.
The Alvarinho variety is considered, by many, the best white grape variety grafted on the Portuguese vineyards. Its rarity, low production and, above all, the fact that it gives rise to unique wines in terms of aroma and flavor, leads to Alvarinho grapes being the most valuable and well paid in the whole country. Alvarinho wine is a noble wine with a great capacity of competition in national and international markets, which perhaps few Portuguese wines will have.
As a tradition in the area of Trás-os-Montes and Minho, the Fumeiro is another of the gastronomic highlights of the Melgaço region. The Fumeiro de Melgaço, due to its nature and indisputable excellence developed over the centuries, has an important place in the panorama of agrarian, gastronomic and cultural development of the region. Prepared and cured in natural conditions, due to its exceptional organoleptic qualities of appearance, color, texture or consistency, aroma and taste, it has been stamped for more than 500 years.
If we were asked to choose a place, inserted in the county of Melgaço, where we could take advantage of what is best in this region, we would obviously have to choose the village of Castro Laboreiro.
Was it strange that we did not mention this region yet? It’s an area with an enormous patrimonial and natural wealth, for which it deserves an individual highlight.
We begin by mentioning that this village was one of the finalists of the 7 Wonders – Aldeias de Portugal, which says much of what you can find in Castro Laboreiro.
One of the most beautiful views that the county of Melgaço offers is next to the old Castle of Castro Laboreiro. At 1033 meters of altitude, the route is difficult, but the scenic beauty will soon make you forget the path you have taken.
Of the various prehistoric remains in Castro Laboreiro, the most interesting is the Megalithic Necropolis. You can find one of the largest and most important megalithic necropolis of Peneda-Gerês, stretching for about 50 km2, being visible about 90 monuments – 36 of which already in Galician territory. It’s thanks to its location, at an altitude of more than 1100 meters, that this interesting nucleus dating from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age presents itself in such good conservation conditions.
And activities are not lacking for those who visit this village. But of all of them, we highlight the walk with pastors. The life of a shepherd has always been, and continues to be, a traditional activity of the people who inhabit the mountains of Melgaço. The objective of this initiative is to go through valleys and hills with herds in search of food, protecting them from predator attacks with the help of the dogs of Castro Laboreiro.
Speaking of the canine, the Castro Laboreiro’s Dog is one of the ex-libris of the village. Used to accompany and protect herds of shepherds in the region, it is less powerful than other cattle dogs, but does not mean that it is more fragile. His stature makes him ideal for climbing hills, given his agility, also having the strength and the courage to face potential predators.
- The Dog of Castro Laboreiro is one of the oldest breeds of the Iberian Peninsula;
- The Castro Laboreiro Megalithic Necropolis is the largest concentration of megalithic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in Europe;
- The Alvarinho grapes are the most valuable at national and international level.