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In Montesinho Park, Bragança

In Montesinho Park, Bragança

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The mountain villages were protected over centuries from their isolation from the main centres of population and the harsh climate, due to communal forges and ovens, community watermills and wine and olive presses, and communal pasture land. Encrusted in the mountain slopes, the villages cast their gaze over the surroundings, where visitors are greeted as friends.

Leaving Bragança, and journeying to the ancient village of Gimonde, where the Rivers Sabor, Onor and Ribeira do Frio converge, we cross three bridges, one of which has a Roman origin. In the villages of Babe, Palácios and Caravela each has a fascinating Rural Museum, located in community houses – dedicated to topics such as the linen cycle, the blacksmith’s forge and traditional cuisine.

The road ends in the village of Guadramil, where a rough road leads to the border settlement of Rio de Onor. For those who prefer more comfortable trajectories, return to Gimonde and then travel towards Baçal, Varges and finally to Rio de Onor. This village is divided by the Portuguese-Spanish border, and therefore has been subject to a wide variety of ethnographic studies. The family ties between the inhabitants on both sides of the frontier, have effectively eliminated the dividing line between the two halves of the village. The village maintains a wide variety of instruments used communally by the local population – including the bread oven, the forge, two water mills, the wash-house, pasture land, and even the village bull that mates with all the cows. The community is managed in «Council» meetings, and decisions are inscribed in a wooden rod, representing the power of the elected judge.

Another entrance into the zone of Bragança leads us to the village of Montesinho, in a trip alongside the beautiful banks of the River Sabor, passing through the villages of Rabal and França. In the latter, we discover a watermill that is still in operation, restored by the local population with support from the Park. Nearby, in Prado Novo, we may visit one of the most attractive spots in the Park, next to a trout nursery. Access to the site is achieved via a forest road.

In Montesinho, a typical and authentic village located 1025 metres above sea-level, we sense the soul of the Park. The houses have been restored with traditional materials and techniques and show how they offer the best protection against the harsh climate.

In your visit, don’t miss the opportunity to enter the Montesinho interpretational centre, in a building that was once a community forge.


In Montesinho Park, Bragança
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