Lamego - Portugal

Overlooked by one of Portugal‘s most important shrines, Lamego is an ancient episcopal centre lying within the Upper Douro’s demarcated port wine area.

Located in a fertile valley, this delightful Baroque town has a charming central square laid out as a public garden surrounded by elegant 17th-century buildings.

It’s most significant role in Portugal’s history was as the site where, in 1143, Afonso Henriques was officially declared as the country’s first king.

Lamego’s 12th-century castle on one of the city’s two hills preserves a fine 13th-century keep and an unusual Moorish vaulted cistern. Its sturdy design comprises two lines of walls (interior and exterior) built around the castle and its nucleus, from which breathtaking views are afforded of the rivers Coura, Balsemão, Varosa and beyond.

Atop the other hill is the town’s most important building, the pilgrimage church of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, which is reached by a magnificent Baroque-style 600-step staircase. Designed by the renowned locally-born architect antónio mendes coutinho, the church’s striking late 18th-century Rococo façade is clearly visible from miles around.

The city’s cathedral, a Gothic structure, was built by Afonso Henriques in 1129 and the municipal museum housed in the early 18th-century bishops’ palace includes 16th-century Flemish tapestries and works by the renowned Portuguese master, Grão Vasco.

Just 3 km from Lamego, the little rustic church at São Pedro de Balsemão is said to be the oldest in Portugal. Built in the 7th century by the Christian Visigoths before the arrival of the Moors, it was restored in the 17th century and left largely untouched ever since.

Where to go in northern Portugal

The church of the first Cistercian monastery at São João de Tarouca, 17 km from Lamego, was founded in 1139. Its painting of St Peter by Grão Vasco is considered a national treasure.

Lamego’s location in the heart of Portugal’s world-renowned port wine country brings many visitors to the city, especially in early autumn during the harvesting season.

Celebrated the world over, port wine has been produced in the Douro Valley north of Lamego for centuries, and visitors have quick access to some of the most important centres of the wine trade, such as Peso da Régua situated just 17 kilometres to the north.

Visitors touring the region by car have the added bonus of being able to access some of northern Portugal’s other key tourist attractions, most notably the amazing Upper Palaeolithic rock art of Foz Côa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the heart the Côa Valley, about a 90-minute drive east of Lamego.

Other places of interest not too far from Lamego include the Vila Real (an ancient city that’s home to the world-famous Mateus Rosé wine), Amarante (one of the most picturesque towns in the whole of northern Portugal) and Pinhão, another of the region’s wine towns popular for its peaceful riverside setting.

But arguably the main draw for visitors to Lamego and its environs is the chance to soak up the outstanding natural beauty of the majestic River Douro, whose visually dramatic landscapes can be appreciated either by car, train, boat or on foot.

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