We’ve put together the below road trip to these top 5 cultural attractions in the Alto Minho region in Portugal. This is a tried and tested route starting at Viana do Castelo – easy enough to drive and spend an overnight stay at Hotel Minho in Vila Nova de Cerveira (see review here). We must admit that Vila Nova de Cerveira is the ideal area or springboard from which to visit our 5 top cultural attractions. Take your time and do the journey as you wish, with a recommended two or three nights in the region as a whole.
1. Congregação de N.ª Sr.ª da Caridade, Viana do Castelo
Start at Congregação de N.ª Sr.ª da Caridade in Viana do Castelo, around an hour’s drive from Porto. One can immediately see just how special Congregação de N.ª Sr.ª da Caridade is. This monastery and church now serves as a (really cool) retirement village for locals.
And once inside the church of this old monastery notice the gold plated wall designs, incredible artworks of Biblical scenes and fascinating, patterned blue and white wall tiles – a most unusual and elegant combination.
We even came across this special feature below whereby church-goers could prop themselves up against the wall if there was no space to sit in the aisles. Note to reader – isn’t that John Lennon with his little round glasses painted below?!
The ceiling inside this church is also highly unique and really magnificent. I’ve never seen anything like this before! It tells an incredible story of Biblical times.
2. Santuário do Sagrado Coração de Jesus, Viana do Castelo
Next, drive up the hill in Viana do Castelo towards this superb church – one of the best and most unique churches I’ve ever seen. Complete with stained glass flower design on the front and incredible ceiling, this church is truly heaven on a hilltop.
Note the very detailed stone work inside. Imagine how long it must’ve taken to carve out these designs in stone…
3. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção, Caminha
Now make your way from Viana do Castelo to Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção in Caminha. It took approximately 70 years to complete this Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. What makes this church particularly special is the combined Gothic and Renaissance features together with Moorish elements. I loved the wood and stone design of the ceiling which was for me the most special attribute of this church and national monument.
Travel Tip: Stay overnight in Hotel Minho in Vila Nova de Cerveira before venturing to Valença the following day.
4. Fortress of Valença do Minho, Valença
This fortress is currently a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage list. And one can clearly see why. Built at the beginning of the 13th century the fortress overlooks the river that divides Portugal and Spain. Even more interesting though, is the fact that an entire town has been build within its walls!
Here is a taste of some of the very beautiful buildings within…
5. Palacio da Brejoeira, Monção
Palacio da Brejoeira is an unexpected palace set in the heart of the Monção countryside. Complete with chapel, wine cellar, vinyards, theatre and romantic heart-shaped island (in the garden!) this is a place you certainly should not miss when travelling to the Alto Minho region. The palace was given to its current owner as an 18th birthday gift (in fact she still resides). Be sure to purchase some of the excellent wines made at the palace. A great outing for couples and romantics alike.
We thoroughly enjoyed creating this special cultural road trip experience and hope you enjoy it just as much when you visit the Alto Minho region in Portugal!