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7/15/11

Viseu is a city of contrasts, with history and memory, modernity and greenery - a city in the heart from Portugal!

Viseu

Best known for its velvety red wines and luscious gastronomic delights, Viseu will entice you with its vibrant folklore festivals, pastoral scenery and plentiful collection of cultural gems.

Roughly half way between Porto and Coimbra, the rural district of Viseu nestles in the heart of the winemaking Dão-Lafões sub-region, a landscape formed by lush pine forests, crystalline rivers and some of the most reputable vineyards in the country.
Across the western border of the district lays the Serra do Caramulo, a 1,075 metre-high (3,500 feet) range known for its fresh mountain water, sleepy schist villages and golden-coloured honey. On clear, sunny days one may climb Caramulinho, the highest peak on the range, to enjoy dramatic views of the distant Serra da Estrela (Mountains of the stars).


You will find the district’s prime attractions in its capital – the city of Viseu. Head to the historical Adro da Sé square and enter the richly embellished cathedral that stands in its centre. Go to the nearby Renaissance art museum and let your eyes wander from painting to painting and book a wine tour of the Solar do Dão to reward your taste buds with slow-paced sips of this region’s full-bodied wine. Also explore the Cava do Viriato, a pentagonal shaped park believed to have once been the military camp of the Lusitanian leader Viriato – a legendary warrior who protected Viseu from Roman invaders long ago.


Try the district’s renowned smoked ham and exquisite sparkling wine in the northern city of Lamego and be sure to visit some of its most significant religious landmarks such as the 12th Century Santa Maria de Almacave Church and the São Pedro de Balsemão Chapel – the second oldest temple in the Iberian Peninsula.

The hilltop town of Sernancelhe is home to a wonderful medley of lovely manor houses and palaces and is widely known for its esteemed pilgrimage site, the 17th Century Nossa Senhora da Lapa Sanctuary. Three times a year, religious mass’s and processions are held to honour this local saint – an age-old tradition that continues to attract large crowds of faithful pilgrims from all over the country. To discover typical homes constructed from schist stone, visit Aldeia da Pena and Aldeia da Póvoa Dão, picturesque villages that exemplify the medieval influence that still remains in many parts of the district today.
Photos: Celso Gonçalves Roc2c

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