If you’re into popular festivals and celebrations - the ‘Festa das Cruzes’ (Festival of Crosses) plunges you into the lights and colours of local tradition. For market lovers, every Thursday Barcelos becomes a centre for traders selling everything from jewellery, clothing, tools, pottery and inevitably, good food and vegetables. You’ll also be impressed by the colourful and imaginative local handicrafts.
The town was bestowed by King Dinis on the first Count of Barcelos in 1298. Should you arrive by the Gothic bridge, you’ll see before you the ruins of the medieval centre; the imposing former Count’s palace, later belonging to the Dukes of Bragança, the Matrix church and the pillory. The ‘Terreiro do Paço’ square is home to an interesting open-air Archaeological Museum, while the ‘Senhor do Galo’ Cross, (Lord of the Cock), also deserves special attention, with its depiction of the legend of the Cockerel that Barcelos adopted as its symbol.
At the Pinheiros Noble Residence, look out for the ‘old man with long beard’ engraved into the stone. This is ‘Barbadão’ (beardy), swearing revenge against a noble at the Ducal Palace who had dishonoured his daughter.
Of the old walls, only a robust keep has fully survived and is now an ideal location for the local Tourism Office. Take a walk through the pleasant, Baroque inspired garden and visit the Church of Senhor Bom Jesus da Cruz. This most elegant place of worship manages to blend the dark tones of granite with the whiteness of chalk in full harmony with the Baroque decoration.