Valenca do Minho
Valenca do Minho is a charming village bordering with Spain on the Minho region, dominated by its impressive fortress and boosting with life.
From the top of the hill where Valenca do Minho stands, overlooking Spain on the other side of Minho River, it is not difficult to imagine the crucial role this ancient village played on the defence of our borders against the many Spanish invasion attempts during the Middle Ages.
The natural defensive characteristic of the village was reinforced during the 17th and 18th centuries with the impressive fortress with two towers and double walls that dominates Valenca do Minho. Built according to the project of the French engineer and architect Vauban the once military facilities house nowadays a luxury hotel.
Yet, Valenca do Minho has more to offer besides the fortress and absolutely astonishing views. While wandering along the streets of the village visitors enter in a new dimension, travelling to a past of richness and prosperity that nowadays is witnessed by the magnificence and beauty of the typical manor houses like Casa do Eirado, Casa do Poço or Quinta da Mota that where once the homes of wealthy families.
Religiosity and devotion have always been distinctive traces of the Portuguese people, especially on the northern regions. Being Valenca a passage for the pilgrims of the Way of St. James, religion was always present throughout times, therefore the village has several admirable religious monuments such as Colegiada de Santo Estevão Church, the Santa Maria dos Anjos Church, both from the 13th century, or the Misericórdia Church that was built in the 16th century; worthy of a visit are also the chapels Militar do Bom Jesus, São Sebastião and Nossa Senhora da Saúde, dating from different centuries.
However I believe that the stone-paved narrow streets of Valenca do Minho boosting with live are one of the village’s highlights. While the small handcraft shops allow you to discover all sorts of handmade local products like gold, linen, basketry as well as ceramics and pottery, the wine shops offer the best Portuguese wines.
Valenca do Minho is also a wonderful place to enjoy the delicious Portuguese gastronomy as there are plenty of restaurants with typical dishes like rojoes, codfish or octopus on their menus.
If in the past Valenca do Minho was devoted to avoid foreigners, today the village is one of the most welcoming places tourists may visit in Portugal.