Fado de Coimbra

Fado is a Portuguese music style, the most internationally famous type being that sung in and  around Lisbon, the type sung by the late Amália Rodrigues and today’s Mariza.  There are other styles of fado, however, including that from the city of Coimbra, which is home to Portugal’s oldest university, the Universidade de Coimbra. The following video is an example of fado from Coimbra performed by university students, and it is really fun! I hope that you like it.


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Citânia de Sanfins

Just outside of the city of Porto, in the municipality of Paços de Ferreira, there is an awesome, 2000+ year old castro, which is a “pre-Roman Iron Age Celtic village”, that sits at the top of a large hill. The Citânia de Sanfins is a big castro, so that’s why it is called a citânia. It is believed to have been later occupied by Romans. They have a nice website for the place, but it’s in Portuguese. It was free to walk around the site, unless we just got lucky on the evening that we went. To go inside the re-created house, you might have to pay, but we couldn’t find anyone around to let us in.
Anyway! Here are some photos…

This guy, “the statue of the warrior”, was unearthed at the site, and he has become a sort of “mascot” for the citania. He is displayed at the museum, which is located off-site in the heart of the small town of Sanfins. A reconstruction of the soldier was placed at the site of the citânia, where it is thought that he stood long, long ago.

The Citânia de Sanfins at dusk.

Today’s guardians of the Citânia de Sanfins.

A reconstruction of a large house in the citânia.

The main outer wall of the citânia.

A castrejo bath house outside of the main wall of the citânia.

The bath house still gets water!

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Filed under National Monuments, Pacos de Ferreira, Sanfins

Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima, founded in 1125, is known as Portugal’s “oldest town”, but it wins that distinction on somewhat of a technicality… it is the oldest town because it has not grown enough to be a city! Plenty of old cities were older towns than Ponte de Lima when they were in fact old towns. But it doesn’t really matter; Ponte de Lima is still, in its own right, one of the most beautiful little spots in Portugal. It has a fantastic bridge spanning the Lima river (hence its name: Ponte (bridge) de Lima), and a beautiful church on the opposite bank that really makes for a great view from a little cafe in the waterfront plaza.

According to Wikipedia, Ponte de Lima has a population of only 2,800, although the municipality of Ponte de Lima has more than 44,000 inhabitants. It is located far in the north of Portugal, towards the west, and close to the northern border with Spain.

A view of the town of Ponte de Lima as I walked back across the bridge after visiting the church.

In the main plaza in Ponte de Lima.

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Guimarães: o Monte da Penha in winter

Guimarães is, in my opinion, one of Portugal’s most beautiful cities, but today I am going to post pictures not of Guimarães, but of the Penha mountain that overlooks it. These pictures were taken around January of 2010, when there was an unusual amount of snow on the mountain top (it had even snowed in Oporto that month!).

O Monte da Penha, towering over the city of Guimaraes. You can already see the snow on top!

Hotel at the Monte da Penha

The hotel that sits at the top of the Penha mountain is on the right. It has stunning views of the city below!

The church that sits atop the Monte da Penha.

It was far colder than what I was used to!

A small chapel on top of the Monte da Penha, tucked away behind the large boulders that define the mountaintop landscape.

A view of Guimaraes from behind the church at the top of the Monte da Penha.

Some of the large boulders that cover the Monte da Penha.

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Vila Nova de Gaia, home of the Port wine cellars

The famous Port wine is in fact not bottled in Oporto but in the town that sits just opposite of the big city, on the other bank of the Douro river, Vila Nova de Gaia. However, Vila Nova de Gaia still falls within the Porto municipality (there are 20 total municipalities in Portugal; 18 in the mainland, one that covers the whole of the Azores archipelago and another that encompasses the Madeira archipelago).
These are a few pictures from an afternoon visit in March of 2010.
A view of old Oporto, the Douro River and the Dom Luis bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia.

A view of old Oporto, the Douro River and the Dom Luis bridge from Vila Nova de Gaia.

Port wine bottling companies

Signs for the Port wine bottling companies in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Sandeman Port wine

Sandeman, one of the most famous bottlers of Port wine. In the summer, the patio is filled with outdoor seating, umbrellas and, of course, happy tourists and Portuguese enjoying the view and the wine!

Back alleys

In the back alleys of the Port wine cellars.

Sandeman facilities

One of Sandeman's facilities.

Church Vila Nova de Gaia

A chuch behind the Port wine cellars, with a typical tile mural.

Convent Vila Nova de Gaia

An old convent in Vila Nova de Gaia.

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Parque Biológico de Gaia

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I visited the Parque Biológico de Gaia, a medium-sized nature reserve in the middle of a forest housing many local species of animals, many of which were found injured in the wild and brought to live out their lives here.  There were many baby animals, too, born in captivity.  Gaia is on the other side of the Douro River, opposite Oporto, so it was an easy and fun trip.  There was a group of school children at the park, too.  They were really cute and really excited to pet the donkey.


Map of the park.


Old house

An old farmhouse left on the property and turned into an exhibit about local farming practices.

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