The village of Arcos de Valdevez has more importance in the History of Portugal than it might seem at first glance. Moreover, he played a fundamental role in the achievement of our country’s independence from Castile.
It was there that, in 1140, the Arcos de Valdevez Tournament (or Recontro) took place, between the Portuguese led by Afonso Henriques and the Castilians led by Afonso VII of León and Castile. At the time, Portugal was ardently seeking its independence and our first king decided to tear up a peace treaty he had signed in Tui and invaded Galicia.
Alfonso VII did not like the impudence and after retaking the Galician lands, he entered Portugal with a powerful army, descending the mountains of Soajo towards Valdevez. To avoid a bloodbath, it was agreed to hold a tournament in keeping with the tradition of medieval chivalry.
The Portuguese were victorious in the encounter and Afonso Henriques took another step towards the coveted independence. And the Minho village of Arcos de Valdevez, right on the doorstep of the Peneda-Gerês National Park, has become the land “where Portugal was made”.
But you are wrong if you think that this region is only about history. For the more adventurous or the lazy, for families or to go alone, discover why Arcos de Valdevez is your next destination.
What not to see, do and eat
Located in the historic center, you cannot miss visiting one of the landmarks of Arcos de Valdevez. Designed by architect André Soares from Braga, its construction dates back to the mid-18th century.
With a simple but innovative architecture, the church has a central plan, an oval exterior and a large dome. As far as the interior is concerned, it is marked by three elements of careful carving on the retables and railings, typical of the Rococo style. The details and their richness will certainly enchant you.
For the more adventurous, gather the family and explore the Ecovia do Vez. There are 32 kilometers, between Nature and the banks of the river Vez.
Our suggestion is to start the route at the Medieval Bridge of Vilela and head towards Aldeia do Sistelo, or do the opposite, covering about 11km.
The magnificent landscape features numerous waterfalls, so you can go for a swim during your walk.
The footbridges of Vez made the village of Sistelo well known, but it is its green terraces that gave it the name of portuguese tibet.
Winner of the «7 Wonders of Portugal», in 2017, in the Rural Village category, the village is located at the entrance to the Peneda-Gerês National Park, next to the source of the river Vez.
It is impossible to remain indifferent to its ancestral rural beauty, which comes from its terraces. Molded for centuries by the human hand, they are one of the symbols that best characterizes the village.
The village of Soajo is one of the most traditional and characteristic villages in the region. Part of its roots have been conserved through its architecture and streets, with flooring in granite slabs.
The village is known for the numerous granaries that reside on a huge granite slab, and which are used by the local community for drying corn.
In Soajo, you cannot miss visiting the historic centre, where Largo de Eiró and Pelourinho are located.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda
Built between the end of the 18th and 19th centuries, the sanctuary is characterized by its imposing staircase in front of the church.
The stairway of virtues, the work of master Francisco Luís Barreiros, features statues representing Faith, Hope, Charity and Glory, and dates from 1854.
The sanctuary develops in an avenue with about 300 meters and 20 chapels, with scenes from the life of Christ. The former dormitories for pilgrims have now been transformed into a hotel.
Arcos de Valdevez is a region of excellence for the production of green wines, reds from the ‘vinhão’ variety and white from the ‘loureiro’ variety.
And as an ex-libiri of the region, be sure to visit one of the producing farms. There are currently 14 winegrowers in the municipality, with a production area of 65ha.
Take a guided tour, with wine tasting and local products, and discover more about our country.
The Gastronomy of Arcos de Valdevez, presents delicacies and unique flavors.
Carne da Cachena with rice and beans is one of the best known dishes in the region. The Cachena breed is the smallest Portuguese bovine breed and one of the smallest in the world.
Carne da Cachena, raised mainly in Serra da Peneda/Soajo, is certified by Protected Designation of Origin. The Tarrestre Bean, on the other hand, is of the creeping type, sown together with the corn.
If you are a lover of traditional Portuguese sweets, be sure to try the “Charutos d’Ovos” accompanied with Orange de Ermelo, both of conventual origin. We also highlight the Honey Cake and the no less known “Rebuçados dos Arcos“.
As you can see, there is no shortage of reasons to visit Arcos de Valdevez! Gather the family and discover this treasure in the north of Portugal.
Discover the village’s monuments, explore the trails, dive into the river beach and end your adventure with the region’s dishes and wines.