Vila Real
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VILA REAL

Sitting on its high elevation over the rivers Corgo and Cabri is the attractive episcopal city of Vila Real. Meaning 'regal town', it is so named by its founder Dom Dinis in 1829. The old town centre has lots of charm, amongst the old narrow streets and picturesque old churches there are mansion houses which date as far back as the 15th Century. In addition to the town itself, the surrounding region is a major draw for visitors. Close to the beautiful Alvão Natural Park in the north and the Serra do Marão hills to the west. To the south is the Douro River with its impressive landscaped wine terraces. Vila Real makes an excellent base for an adventurous holiday.

THE TOWN

Avenida de Carvalho Araújo

Avenida de Carvalho Araújo

The story of Vila Real goes ways back to 1289AD after King Afonso III granted the town a royal warrant. In comparison to the surrounding sleepy agricultural landscape, Vila Real feels bustling and lively. Since 1986 the city has been home to the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro University which has introduced a youthful vibe and investment to Vila Real. Here too is a convergence of major routes, both Porto and Lisbon are within easy reach and the major towns of the Trás-os-Montes are a few hours away.

Avenida de Carvalho Araújo

The beating heart of the old town is the Avenida de Carvalho Araújo which runs from South to North. The avenue has recently undergone renovation to improve pedestrian access. It is along this boulevard you'll find Vila Real's main shops and eateries. The 19th-century town hall is at the Southern end, the house where the Portuguese explorer and sailor Diogo Cão Escudeiro was born and the Cathedral of Vila Real. In a side street opposite the cathedral, you'll find the city's pillory (Pelourinho), built in 1515, when Vila Real obtained a new charter, given by D. Manuel.

Towards the Northern end of the avenue is a large statue of Carvalho Araújo. He was a successful naval officer and republican politician before falling foul to a German U-Boat in 1918 whilst protecting cargo shipping during the Great War.

CATHEDRAL (SÉ)

The gothic Dominican convent built in 1424 became a cathedral with the creation of the diocese of Vila Real in 1922. Construction and alterations took place throughout the 15th century, applying gothic architectural characteristics which still stand today. Most notably demonstrated in the archivolts above the main portal. Inside you'll find three staggered naves, a transept and rectangular chancel renovated in the 18th century. Following these works, the building started to display elements of baroque styles, such as the current main chapel, the bell tower (from 1742) and the large windows on the outer walls. Its stark interior is due to a devastating fire that destroyed most of the furnishings in 1837. The cathedral was classified as a National Monument in 1926.

Since its elevation to Cathedral status, it has undergone several modifications adding more contemporary elements, such as a set of stained glass windows by painter João Vieira, inspired by the "Gospel According to Saint John". Another modern addition is the symphonic organ, built in the 21st century and probably the most modern in the country. It has four keyboards, thirty-three stops and a total of 2,192 pipes.
Monday – Friday: 09h00 - 17h30, Weekends; Open for services | FREE
89 Avenida Carvalho Araújo, 5000-657, Vila Real District, Portugal | 41º 17' 46.7" N | 07º 44' 47.5" W
+351 259 323 448 |  Website

Cathedral of Vila Real

Cathedral of Vila Real

MUSEU DE ARQUEOLOGIA & NUMISMÁTICA

Museum of Archeology and Numismatics of Vila Real (MANVR)

Museum of Archeology and Numismatics of Vila Real (MANVR)

This interesting Museum of Archeology and Numismatics of Vila Real (MANVR) has been exhibiting finds from digs located all over the region since it first opened its doors in 1997. The permanent exhibits are divided into two themed collections; Archaeological and Numismatic. Of special note is a selection of Neolithic stone engravings from the Alvão National Park. Amongst the vast collection of coins date from the Roman and Visigothic periods. The MANVR is housed in a beautiful 18th-century building, which has undergone several occupations over time.

Tuesday – Friday: 10h00 -– 12h30/14h30 – 18h30, Weekends: 14h30 – 18h30, Monday: CLOSED | FREE
Rua do Rossio 5000-620, Vila Real, Portugal | 41º 17' 51.5" N | 07º 44' 35.2" W | +351 259 320 340
museu@cm-vilareal.pt |  Website


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IGREJA DE SÃO PAULO

This magnificent 18th-century church also goes by the names Capela Nova, or Capela dos Clérigos and is created by the great Italian architect and artist Nicolau Nasoni. Born in Tuscany in 1691, Nasoni is credited and most renowned for his Baroque creations in Porto, most notably the Clérigos church and tower. Work started on the Igreja de São Paulo in 1639 on a prime location in central Vila Real. Nasoni's Italian heritage is evident in the design of the church's façade. Two pairs of Tuscan pillars flank the main decorative portal and topped by an oculus. Atop the curving gable are three sculptures representing Saint Peter and two archangels.

The interior is composed of a single nave with 18th-century azulejos depicting scenes from the Evangelists adorn the walls. There are also valuable retables of which the most impressive is the main altar. The main altar is a Renaissance-style woodcarving dating from the beginning of the 17th century.

6 Rua Dr. Roque da Silveira, 5000-635 Vila Real, Portugal
41º 17' 50.2" N | 07º 44' 40.9" W

Igreja de São Paulo

Igreja de São Paulo

SOLAR (CASA) DE MATEUS

Solar de Mateus

Solar de Mateus

A couple of miles (4km) east of Vila Real is the impressive country mansion of the Solar de Mateus. The Solar de Mateus gained fame when it appeared on the Mateus wine label. The wine has never been made here. The Casa de Mateus was built in the first half of the 18th century by António José Botelho Mourão, third Morgado de Mateus and is considered as a perfect example of Portuguese Baroque. It was built around 1740, and, although not confirmed, it is believed it was designed by the eminent Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni.

Still owned by the Mangualde family, descendants of its creator, the home is open to visitors and in which occasional music and poetry events are held. The Casa de Mateus today is a living museum that retains the original arrangements and functions of many of its rooms. Admire the elaborate wood ceilings in addition to valuable furniture, carpets, paintings, silverware and an interesting collection of porcelain. There is also a small museum exhibiting the relationship between the Mangualde family and Portuguese royalty. Although the house is often referred to as a palace, according to Portuguese law a building can only be so named if royalty had resided there.

Nonetheless, the true star of the estate is the grounds. The garden is full of ponds and box hedging typical of 18th-century horticulture. A spectacular conifer avenue, composed of trees 7.5 metres tall form an impressive tunnel about 50m long. The Lake, a mirror of water built in the 1950s, forms an extension to the architectural complex from which the façade is perfectly reflected. It is surrounded by a dense planting of chestnut trees and oaks planted in the 1970s. The sculpture by João Cutileiro, which has ‘slept’ in the Lake since 1981, blends with the reflection of the house.

Solar de Mateus

Solar de Mateus gardens

In summer, special events are held on the grounds, such as classical concerts, seminars and even an annual literary award for Portuguese writers. In 1910 the estate was classified as a National Monument. Ticket prices vary depending on which tour itinerary you choose, see the link below for more information and to pre-book. Parking on-site is expensive. If you can find a parking spot in the village it could save you a tenner. Alternatively, you can take the bus from central Vila Real.

Line (Linha) 1 Lordelo – UTAD (University), catch the bus just outside the municipal market on the Rua Gonçalo Cristovão. The bus stops in Mateus village, a five minute stroll from the house. OUT–Timetable | IN–Timetable

From June – Sept. Daily: 09h00 – 12h00/ 14h00 – 19h30, Oct. & March – May Daily: 09h00 – 13h00/14h00 – 18h00,
Nov. – Feb. Daily: 09h00 – 13h00/14h00 – 17h00
Fundação da Casa de Mateus, Mateus, 5000-291, Vila Real, Portugal. | 41º 29' 76.9" N | 07º 71' 34.5" W
+351 259 323 121 | casademateus@casademateus.pt |  Website

ALVÃO NATURAL PARK

This small yet dramatic protected area was established in 1983 and is situated North West of Vila Real. This mountainous region covers 72,000 hectares of rugged yet beautiful terrain and forms part of the Marão mountain range, the boundary between the Minho and Trás-os-Montes regions. Its diverse habitat is home to several rare species of fauna, flora and wild animals. Take one of the walking trails suggested by park officials and set off to look for wolves, wild cats and Pyrenean desmans. Up in the skies, you can see Peregrine Falcons. If you’re lucky you will also catch a glimpse of the Golden Eagles. You will also find trout, Iberian nase and the ray-finned barbell in the rivers.

The landscape is divided by two geological formations, the higher zones up to 1000m high consists of granite, rocky outcrops, hardy shrubs and grasslands. At lower altitudes, the terrain is composed of schist bedrock, forested areas and altogether more greener. The impressive Fisgas de Ermelo cascades down 450m from one landscape to the other. From different viewpoints, it is possible to view these falls from the top and from below.

The villages in the park, such as Ermelo, Fervença and Lamas de Olo contain thatched stone buildings that seem stuck in time. The roads narrow to the width of a horse cart, easily blocked by horned cattle (Maronês), medieval stone bridges traverse mountain streams, and century-old Espigueiros are still used to hold corn. Life in the park is preserved in time.

TERMINAL RODOVIÁRIO DE VILA REAL

Vila Real is the gateway to the Trás-os-Montes and a major transport hub. Since the closure of the Corgo train line traveling by coach to and from Vila Real is the main form of public transport. From Vila Real's coach station it's possible to take day trips to Amarante, Braga, Bragança, Chaves, Coimbra, Guimarães, Lamego, Porto, Peso da Régua and Viseu. Coach travel is relatively cheap, reliable and comfortable in Portugal. A handful of companies operate out of Vila Real with frequent buses leaving to all major destinations. The coach station is north east of the city centre close to the market.

Rua D. António Valente da Fonseca 5000-539 Vila Real, Portugal
41º 17' 58.5" N | 07º 45' 00.1" W | +351 259 340 710
geral@rodonorte.pt |  Website

Terminal Rodoviário de Vila Real

Terminal Rodoviário de Vila Real

SANTUÁRIO DE PANÓIAS

Santuário de Panóias

Santuário de Panóias

There are plenty of pre-roman monuments found in Iberia but non as macabre and mysterious as the relics found at Santuário Rupestre de Panóias. Eight kilometres (5 miles) southeast of Vila Real enclosed within a perimeter fence what at first glance looks like a collection of boulders was once the powerful settlement of Vila de Constantim de Panoyas. A pagan temple where animal sacrifice was practised. Channels cut into the rock can still be seen that were used to run off the blood. When the Romans arrived, they dedicated the temple to Serapis. This cult worshipped the lord of life and death had origins in Ptolemaic Egypt and gained popularity in the Roman world in the 1st century BC. Three coffin-shaped cavities were carved out of a large boulder. One can only imagine their purpose. The largest boulder has steps carved into the side which would have led up to the temple that sat on top. The site is accessed off a side road branching off the A24 highway. Entrance is free on Sunday Mornings.

Tuesday: 14h00 -– 17h00, Wednesday – Sunday: 09h00 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h00, Monday: CLOSED | €1.50
5000-751 Vale de Nogueiras, Portugal | 41º 16' 58.6" N | 07º 40' 56.7" W

TOP TOURS IN VILA REAL

Vintage car ride in Vila Real

Vintage car ride in Vila Real

Tour in style! Visit many attractions such as the Mateus Palace, Vila Real Circuit and Bisalhães black clay. After leaving the city centre across the red bridge to the top of Mateus with a toast in the middle in a place with a unique view. We will return to the Circuit that has been around since 1931, and set out to discover the city's most iconic streets, historical sights and of course… the Wine! Venture on this tour in the company of our vehicles and a local guide. Mateus Palace. Port wine tasting and traditional sweets. Visit a confectionery factory.

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Tour to the Palace of Mateus and the Douro

Solar de Mateus and the Douro tour

Your tour includes a visit to Casa de Mateus, lunch, a visit and wine tasting at a Douro Quinta. Travel in comfort in a modern sedan. A classic vehicle tour will have an additional cost. Embark with us on a story about Douro wine, gastronomy and traditions. Traveller pickup is offered The pick-up and drop-off in the city of Porto or other locations will have an associated transfer fee.




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Douro Valley Tour: Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto with Pickup

Wine Tasting, River Cruise and Lunch From Porto

The Douro Valley’s landscapes are replete with vineyards and bounteous produce: sip and sample the best of the region’s culinary offerings on this full-day tour from Porto which includes a boat ride on the Douro River. Alongside your guide, visit wine estates and spectacular viewpoints. See, too, the beauty of the Douro River during a boat ride and enjoy lunch in a typical Portuguese restaurant. Pick-up from Porto hotels is included on this small-group tour.


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SUGGESTED HOTELS

O Palacete

O Palacete

O Palacete guest house is located in downtown Vila Real and offers free WiFi throughout the property. All rooms boast a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a private bathroom. The guest house has family rooms. All guest rooms at the guest house feature air conditioning and a wardrobe.

Rua da Misericórdia 43 , 5000-653 Vila Real, Portugal.
41º 17' 45.1" N | 07º 44' 42.7" W

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Borralha Guest House

Borralha Hotel, Restaurante & Spa

ffering garden views, Borralha Guest House in Vila Real comfortable accommodation, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a garden, a bar, a shared lounge and a terrace. Free WiFi is provided. All units come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and shower. A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast. A car rental service is available at Borralha Guest House, while hiking and cycling can be enjoyed nearby.

Avenida do Regimento de Infantaria 13 Lugar da Borralha, SN, 5000-423 Vila Real, Portugal.
41º 18' 49.7" N | 07º 44' 07.1" W

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Porta 116

Porta 116

Situated in the old city centre of Vila Real, Porta 116 offers accommodation with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and flat-screen TV, as well as a terrace. A microwave, a fridge and oven are also available in the kitchen, as well as a kettle.

Rua Doutor Roque da Silveira Nº116, 5000-651 Vila Real, Portugal.
N 41º 17' 52.4" | W 07º 44' 34.6"

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Cais da Villa

Cais da Villa

Situated inside a former railway depository Cais da Villa is a fine dinning experience with price tag to match. Seasonal local produce is prepared creatively, orchestrated by chef Daniel Gomes. There is also a large wine list containing great local Douro wines.

Monday – Thursday: 12h30 - 15h00/19h30 - 00h00, Friday – Saturday: 12h30 - 15h00/19h30 - 02h00, Sunday: 12h30 - 15h00
6 Rua Monsenhor Jerónimo do Amaral, 5000-570 Vila Real, Portugal.
N 41º 29' 34.3" | W 07º 73' 97.4"
+351 259 351 209
geral@caisdavilla.com |  Website


Bons Tempos

Bons Tempos

This modest restaurant first opened it's doors in 2009 and serves it's customers traditional fair with a modern twist. Friendly and welcoming the staff are always at hand to make your dinning experience as enjoyable as possible, you're sure to have Bons Tempos. Fifty tables spread across two dinning halls and outside terrace. Prices are very reasonable and the list of local wines extensive.

Daily: 12h00 – 14h30/19h30 – 22h30
41 Rua de Santa Sofia, 5000-680 Vila Real, Portugal.
41º 17' 59.3" N | 07º 44' 44.9" W
+351 259 322 394
bonstemposrestaurante@gmail.com |  Website


Tralha Wine Tapas Bar

Tralha Wine Tapas Bar

A great little hang out and place to enjoy good tapas at a leisurely pace. The jovial atmosphere is aided by the friendly and welcoming staff. Service is relaxed and not rushed, Tralha Wine Tapas Bar is definitely not fast food, rather a savoured experience. Tasty deserts, good drinks menu and vegetarian options broadens the appeal of this place to everyone. Lunch menu changes with the seasons..

Daily: 00h00 – 23h00
Avenida de Almeida Lucena, Vila Real 5000-660 Portugal.
41º 18' 01.7" N | 07º 44' 28.8" W
+351 961 685 715

Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport Porto is 98.1km (61 mi) West of Vila Real Website

GET A GREAT DEAL ON YOUR FLIGHT HERE:

Just over an hours drive West off Porto, 60,3 miles (97km) via the the A4.
Latitude - 41º 17' 50.2" N Longitude - 07º 44' 40.9" W

GET A GREAT DEAL ON YOUR CAR HIRE HERE:

Trains no longer run to Vila Real. The picturesque Linha do Corgo closed in 2009.

Rede Expressos run services to and from Vila Real from various locations within Portugal. Website
Rodonorte connect the main towns and cities of North Portugal. Website