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4 World Heritage Sites in the Porto and North regions of Portugal

Associação de Turismo do Porto, A.R CC BY-NC-ND

When a location is considered World Heritage by UNESCO it is a location of worldwide importance for the preservation of natural and historic heritages. Portugal became an affiliate on 30 September 1980, contributing some of the locations on this list that have great value at a global scale. Portugal has 15 registered locations and a fourth of them are located in the north region of Portugal. We're certain you'll want to see them.

Historic Centre of Porto

Historic Centre of Porto was classified as Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1996. If you set out on foot along the typical alleys, with each step you will encounter a monument of indisputable value, the well known hospitality of the city's people and a stunning panoramic view of the old houses and Douro river.

The gastronomy, the crafts and the commerce offer an array of choices, from more traditional, supported by a past of great historical significance, to the more daring challenges from the young designers of the city. To take a break, we recommend visiting Praça da Ribeira (Ribeira Square), a privileged historic and personal meeting point as well as a place of regular liveliness. By foot, coach, cable car, train, car, mini-train, rickshaw, boat, or even by subway, the choice is yours... and the city as well! 

Historic Centre of Guimarães

Guimarães is associated with the formation of Portugal's national identity in the 12th century. The harmony of the city, the technical traditions and the specific architectural features that illustrate the evolution of the city and its integration in its compelling landscape, give Guimarães an exceptional universal value. The city invites all of those who visit the streets of its Historic Center, feeling Portugal's history inscribed in the different monuments and squares, churches and museums. Explore the castle, where D. Afonso Henriques was born, the first king of Portugal and whose initial construction dates back to the 10th century. Discover the Paço dos Duques de Bragança (Palace of the Dukes of Bragança), a majestic manor house from the 15th century and classified as a national monument. Guimarães is a city of medieval origins, part of Heritage of Humanity and European Capital of Culture in 2012. It's exceptionally well preserved, maintaining the desire to take care of its historic legacy, coupled with the dynamics and challenges of assuming this legacy, as well as being a city with unique future oriented and modern characteristics.

Alto Douro Vinhateiro (Alto Douro Vineyards)

Alto Douro Vinhateiro (Alto Douro Vineyards)() reflect the most represented and best preserved area of the Demarcada do Douro region, which has also been the oldest regulated winemaking region in the world since 1756.

The cultural landscape is a multi century old work, from technical adaptations and knowledge connected to the cultivation of vines for this wine production with worldwide recognition. The wine produced here is reflected in its denomination of "Porto" or "Douro" origin, as well from other Mediterranean cultures such as olives and almonds. The quality and exceptional value justify the collective superhuman efforts from successive generations, translated into a universally picturesque landscape that is considered a collective masterpiece.

Since time immemorial, this landscape has been a passageway of peoples and a crossing of cultures. It's a place where the vines have been cultivated at least from the period of colonization by the Romans. It's a cultural landscape that is alive and evolutionary, focused on winemaking activities that were developed under extreme conditions, on steep slopes and predominately slaty soils with an enormous shortage of fertile soil and water. Reflected in the landscape is the unique relationship between man and nature, fostering the cultivation of vines by means of ingenious systems to prepare the land. The construction of the terraces supported by drystone walls stand out, built over the centuries covering a distance of hundreds of kilometers. 

The cultural landscape of Alto Douro composes an exceptional example of a traditional European winemaking region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time.

Vale do Côa (Côa Valley)

In December of 1998, UNESCO classified the rock art of Côa Valley as World Heritage. The rock art of Côa Valley is comprised of a set of locations bordering the lower valley of Côa and the upper Portuguese part of Douro Valley (http://visitportoandnorth.travel/Porto-and-the-North/Visit/Douro), where thousands of etchings and rare paintings are concentrated, distributed over 1,000 of the schist rock outcrops that constitute the geological substrate of this vast region. The majority of the rock representations are distributed chronologically by two large time periods, the Upper Paleolithic and the Iron Age. The Paleolithic figures cataloged around 500 panels and constitute the largest clustering of Paleolithic art known in the world in the outdoors.

Take some time to visit the Côa Museum, a cultural space created to promote the historical and cultural heritage of the Pre-historic site of Rock Art from the Côa River Valley. The building reflects a strong interaction with the landscape, with magnificent views of the Côa Valley that develop over four floors, which include an auditorium, educational services, administrative area, shopping and showrooms. The museum gives a special highlight to the rock etchings, the first manifestations of human symbolic creation.

Have you become fascinated by these locations? There is just one cure: visit the Porto and North Regions of Portugal and get to know these wonders of humanity.

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