The enchanting beauties of the heart of the Douro
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The enchanting beauties of the heart of the Douro Valley

The enchanting beauties of the heart of the Douro Valley

May 11, 2021

A landscape coined among vineyards, cliffs and endorsed with a unique climate in Portugal, the village of Pinhão is in the heart of the Alto Douro and will make you fall in love with its history and natural beauty.

Despite being a small country, Portugal has a huge heart, and the river arteries of the Douro make this northern region pulsate in the middle of a green landscape that transmits romanticism and inspiration to those who visit it. Discover some of the reasons to pay a visit to Pinhão village and fall in love with its natural and architectural jewels.

The beating heart of the Upper Douro

The Douro Wine Region was classified in 2001 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being also the first region demarcated for the production of wines in the world, by Marquis of Pombal in 1756! The grapes that produce the famous Port wine rest amid this landscape cut between mountains and steep cliffs, a true natural amphitheatre of shale and vineyards. With an intense climate and little influenced by the winds of the Atlantic coast, the local inhabitants say that during the year "it makes nine months of winter and three months of hell".

The Douro River rises on the peaks of the Spanish Sierra de Urbión and meets the Atlantic Ocean in the city of Porto, another World Heritage Site that also deserves your visit. Navigating this river was not always an easy task, especially before the dams were built along the route between the vineyards to the town of Vila Nova de Gaia, where the famous cellars still remain majestically by the river. Even though the river was made up of strong currents, capable of sinking a boat in an instant, the men who sailed there, relied on their experience to pass the dangerous straits and canyons. Each trip was an adventure lurking the death and the risk of sinking. The giant barrels loaded with Port wine were transported to age in Gaia, following a later journey to England, where this sweet nectar is widely appreciated to this day, including by the British monarchy.

The northern waters carry an invaluable wealth

The history of Port wine flows in the waters of the Douro, and the river was a unique path to this trade that has existed for about eight centuries. However, not everyone knows that the wine was already produced in Roman times, including, the name of the river originates from the gold mines that existed along the river banks in ancient times. An invaluable wealth, right? The Romans already knew that a long time ago!

If wine had been appreciated for centuries, navigation was also seen as a useful and necessary mean of transport, even before the development of the iconic Rabelo boats.

The Rabelo boats are modest boats capable of carrying a few wine barrels, and have a long rudder, which allowed to overcome the currents of the dangerous Douro river. Some say that the name "rabelo" comes from the similarity of the rudder of the vessel with the tail of the black cats, in addition to the way the boat sails resemble the subtle and strategic glide of the felines. True fact or not, you can enjoy a cruise in the Douro and hear the whispers of the winds echoing from the rugged mountainous landscape. The feeling of deep immersion in nature is indescribable, and what are you waiting for to allow yourself to live this fabulous experience?

The Rabelo boats invite you to sail the time-away waters of the Douro River!

The Village of Pinhão: the trails transport us to memorable times.

The village of Pinhão has a train station that has maintained its operations since 1890, as well as its beautiful artistic heritage. The station is decorated with 24 panels of Portuguese tiles, produced in Aveiro, which depict the local landscapes and the hard work typically associated with the Durienses, the locals who can carry a basket full of grapes on their heads under the scorching sun and still manage to display such a genuine smile, worthy of a reward after another busy day. The region was also the scene of great architects, such as Gustave Eiffel himself, who designed the iron bridge under the Douro in 1906, a solid and beautiful architectural work as the area where it is to this day.

The Pinhão railway station is one of the most beautiful in Portugal and the tiles that decorate it are linked to the history of Port Wine!

As you may have noticed, the village of Pinhão is a natural heritage, and at the same time, an immaterial heritage of Portugal. Its inhabitants will do everything to make your visit memorable, and will try to conquer you by offering the typical dishes of the region such as: o guisado português, o garoto assado no forno, the bolo de cordeiro, handmade jam and honey. These dishes deserve an article of their own, don’t you think so?

The small local shops sell handicrafts and come and be enchanted with the miniature souvenirs of Rabelo Boats, blankets, quilts, laces, embroidery, baskets, hats and kites. Apart from delighting yourself on the local cuisine and shops, be sure to hop on a magnificent mini cruise on the Douro River, always inviting for an unforgettable boat ride!

Metal bridge over the Douro River, one of the symbols of Pinhão, made by Gustave Eiffel.

Mini cruises in Pinhão: an unmissable experience!

The village of Pinhão is a real treasure located on the Douro River bank. The landscape of the vineyards along the steep banks of the river is the best known postcard of the village, which has its history marked by the connection with the vineyards, such as the vintages, the river and the largest wine of Portugal. This renowned wine destination is home to some of the most renowned Quintas producing Port Wine and the best way to contemplate, in all its fullness, is on board of the mini cruises, with embarkation and disembarkation in Pinhão. You will be guided by the silence of the view and tranquility of the waters and allow you to admire the most impressive landscapes of the Douro region, considered part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, on a route of the Douro River that is not visible to national roads or railways. So be sure to take this advantage and contact us to get our help and recommendation of tours!