The Beiras and Northern Portugal

From Macão we headed North East to a little village called Monsanto which sits on a granite outcrop with houses crammed in between the rocks. On top of the hillside are the remains of yet another castle, from which the views were fantastic…

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Here’s Kampington parked up at a quiet little Aire at Benquerenca:

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Not too far further North we stopped off to visit another castle, this time at Sabugal. The main selling point of this castle was that its design incorporated proper pointy bits; all good castles should have them!

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We continued further North, stopping to visit Almeida, another town with Vauban-style fortifications. We visited a military museum set in some of the old barracks. The main message I gained from the stories of successive wars / battles was that the defences always seemed to be in a parlous state at the start of hostilities – each time, the town was captured and later returned as part of a peace treaty, whereupon the defences would be repaired and improved, then presumably left to decay again until the next hostilities….

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Further North again and time to visit the Côa Valley.

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This is supposedly the World’s largest prehistoric rock art site, stretching along 20km of the Côa valley (no, I don’t know how you define where one site ends and another begins!). We went to the museum at Vila Nova de Foz Côa and took a guided tour from there to see one of the sites, Canada do Inferno – trips to two other sites run from different villages in the region. We saw engravings of various animals including aurochs and horses which, it’s thought, would have been coloured in 25,000 years ago. The open air nature of the site means that all the colour has now gone, so they can only date the art stylistically by comparing it to art in other places (i.e. caves) where the colour remains in place and can be dated… No photos I’m afraid, but there is a website with a good slideshow (www.arte-coa.pt).

We were now right up in the North-East corner of Portugal and crossed the border back into Spain the next day near Bragança. And thus ended our Portuguese travels for this trip 😦

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