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Northern Portugal: Museums and Monuments

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The history of the north region of Portugal is rich in unique monuments: from Roman relics to beautiful contemporary architecture. The museums offer a better comprehension of the history and culture of a region that respects its ancestry.

In the historic center of Porto it's impossible to feel unmoved by the monuments, as seen naturally or that appear by surprise. At Ribeira square it's impossible to miss the Ponte D. Luís I (D. Luís I Bridge). Appreciate the slender buildings and the typical Ribeira granite. Make discoveries along the narrow streets, or if you prefer, continue on along the river and walk until the Praça do Cubo (Square of the Cube).

While still in the Ribeira zone, you can visit the Casa do Infante (Infant House)/Arquivo Municipal (Municipal Archives), where the infant D. Henrique was born, a driving motive for the Portuguese discoveries. A few steps further and you will find the São Francisco Church and the Palácio da Bolsa (Bolsa Palace)

Palácio da Bolsa (Bolsa Palace) is located next to the São Francisco Church and was finished in the beginning of the 20th Century. It was constructed from the old cloister ruins of the São Francisco Convent by the Commercial Association of Porto. Another worthwhile tour is the guided visit to the Palace where you can visit the luxurious Salão Árabe (Arabian Hall). The Torre and Igreja dos Clérigos also require a visit.

Outside the city of Porto, you can also visit the municipal museum Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, in the city of Amarante. This museum presents contemporary and modern Portuguese art, where some of the avant-guard artists from the 20th Century are highlighted, such as Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, Júlio Resende or Vieira da Silva.

Another worthwhile visit is the D. Diogo de Sousa Museum of Archeology, in the city of Braga, with an extensive exposition of Roman relics, the Viana do Castelo Museum of Costume, which shows the typical attire and traditions of the city and province of Minho. There is also the Douro Museum located in the city of Peso da Régua, which provides an understanding of the history of the region and its winemaking traditions.

In the Minho region, the religious monuments and museums multiply. Braga is a great culmination of this devote culture, which is responsible for some of the most impressive religious buildings of the country. A visit to the Sé Cathedral, to the Treasury Museum of Sé de Braga and to the Paço Episcopal (Episcopal Palace) is a must.

And go up to the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. And around 6 kilometers from Braga you find the Tibaes Monastery, built in the 17th Century and is one of the largest in the country. Along the Minho coast, more specifically in Viana do Castelo, visit the Santa Luzia Basilica, inspired by the Parisian Sacré Coeur Basilica.

At the Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês (Peneda-Gerês National Park) visit the Senhor da Peneda Sanctuary and take on the monumental stairways that give access to 20 small chapels that depict episodes from the life of Jesus.

In the north of Portugal, the majority of the castles are located near the Spanish border where they served as protection for the population against invading peoples. The city of Bragança, in the region of Trás-os-Montes preserves the castle and medieval city, where the giant Keep Tower makes its mark. Traveling throughout the bordering area of the Trás-os-Montes region you will encounter other castles such as Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta and Numão (located in the Archaeological Park of Vale do Côa (Côa Valley), where you can see cave paintings).

While still in the Trás-os-Montes region, more specifically in the municipality of Vila Real, you can visit the Palácio de Mateus (Mateus Palace). This palace was designed by Nicolau Nasoni and is one of the greatest culminations of Baroque civil architecture in Portugal.

Like the Trás-os-Montes region, the Minho region also has castles once used to defend the Portuguese borders. Visit the Vila Nova de Cerveira Castle and the Minho River Aquamuseum.

Heading inland, the next stop is the Melgaço Castle. Built in the 12th Century, there at the Minho riverbank, it was used to keep watch over the crossing between Portugal and the Spanish region of Galiza. At the historic center of Melgaço, visit an Alvarinho wine promoter Solar do Alvarinho, where you can try this wine produced from the ancestry of this region, cultivated in large scale.

Alvarinho wine is intimately connected to the Palácio da Brejoeira (Brejoeira Palace) located in the county of Monção. This palace from the 19th century recently opened its doors to the public and also allows visits to the gardens and groves, wineries and cellars. Complete your visit with a tasting of this typical Alvarinho wine from the region.

In Guimarães you will find the most famous Portuguese castle. The Guimarães Castle is intimately connected to the military history of Portugal's establishment and would be the stage of diverse battles between D. Afonso Henriques and the troops from Castile. Conclude your visit at the Paço dos Duques de Bragança (Palace of the Dukes of Bragança). And to finish in great style, an overnight at the Santa Marinha da Costa Inn, a grandiose building in the Monte da Penha landscape, that utilizes the restored facilities of a 12th century abbey.

These are just some of the most important monuments that we consider must-sees when visiting the Porto and North regions of Portugal. Any questions? () We are here to help... and welcome you with open arms!

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