Discover a religious Douro region, with countless places of worship and meditation, and discover a religious order with a history that goes back several centuries. Spend two day at the Route of the Cistercian Vineyards and take advantage of the lavish union between nature and history that characterizes the region.
It was at the foot of the fertile slopes of Serra da Nave, between the Távora and Varosa rivers in the Varosa Valley that the monks of Cister chose to build their temples, many centuries ago. This is where, even today, you can enjoy some of the most important treasures and jewels of the national heritage.
The Cistercian Order
Implemented in Portugal since the twelfth century, the Cistercian Order accompanied the formation of the territory and the political affirmation of the first dynasty. Gradually extending its monasteries in the center and in the north of the country, thanks to the special royal protection. The monks contributed in a decisive way to the colonization and development of the vast areas they occupied by applying innovative and intensive farming techniques and, above all, a great discipline of space organization.
In Portugal, this religious order began to settle in the mountains of Lamego, from 1138 onwards when, on the banks of the Távora and Varosa rivers, many monasteries appeared, almost all away from the Douro and the main land routes, located between inaccessible valleys.
The demarcated region of Távora-Varosa crosses to the north with the Douro region - almost overlapping at some points - and to the south with the Dão region. It is a region of wine closely linked to the monasteries of the monks of Cister. The Route of the Cistercian Vineyards is, therefore, a mixture of history, monuments and caves, through the memories of the times both of nationality and medieval.
Discover the Cistercian Vineyards
The Route of the Cistercian Vineyards travels - and merges with - the demarcated region of Távora-Varosa, in whose vineyards are born some of the best Portuguese sparkling wines, as well as aromatic and fruity table wines, whether white or red. So reserve some time to get to know the region at the table, too.
To discover all that this route has to offer, it is best to book a two-day stay and take the two itineraries. The itinerary "O caminho dos mosteiros" (the path of the monasteries) begins in the historic city of Lamego, where you can not miss the Cathedral and climb the 686 steps of the staircase of the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies. From the top, the view is magnificent. From Lamego, depart towards Armamar and visit the Romanesque Mother Church. Also from here, the view to the Mizarela, a waterfall located 3 km from the town, is truly spectacular. Go onwards by Travanca and Cimbres, to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas, of the Cistercian Order and whose current traces date from the 18th century. At Ucanha, visit the famous "Caves da Murganheira", producer of DOC wines and sparkling wines.
After the first day, spend the night at Hotel Lamego, a hotel unit housed in an ancient farmhouse, which preserves the features of a period house - the Vista Alegre Palace dates back to 1926 - and that is, at the same time, modern and sophisticated. It is the ideal place to enjoy the comfort, tranquility, history and tastes of the Alto Douro Wine Region.
On the second day, take the EN226 road and enter the second route. The itinerary "Entre vinhas e castanheiros" (among vineyards and chestnut trees) begins in Moimenta da Beira. At this town of old tradition, visit the Monastery of Our Lady of Purification, also known as Church of the Nuns, and the "Solar dos Carvalhais", where today is the City Hall.
The wine lovers will enjoy visiting the Cooperativa Agrícola do Távora, where they can not only get to know more DOC wines of the region but also buy a few bottles to take with them. Follow onwards to Tabuaço where you can enjoy the porch of the Church of St. Peter of the Eagles, founded in the 12th century, on a slope of the river Távora.
Continuing south, you will find Serra da Lapa, where one of the oldest Portuguese shrines and the Chapel of Senhora da Lapa, built later, in the 12th century by the Jesuits, are located. Nearby, visit also the Monastery of Our Lady of the Assumption of Tabosa", of the nuns of the Cistercian Order.
In Sernancelhe, land of chestnut trees, enter the Mother Church and enjoy an extraordinary collection of Romanesque sculptures that there exists. In the historic town center, pay attention to the pillory of the sixteenth century and to the "Solar Barroco dos Carvalhos". Along the streets and gardens of the town, sculptures in granite have been scattered. Say goodbye to the region at the top of Castelo de Penedono, at 930 meters of altitude. The building dominates around it a vast panorama.
Return to Lamego and spend the night in Quinta da Pacheca, one of the best known properties of the Douro, having been the first to bottle wines with its own brand, and whose vineyards - partly at least - were acquired throughout the ages from the convents of Salzedas and St. John of Tarouca.
We guarantee that this will be a unique experience, accompanied with good wine and good food. Contact us so that we can help you plan your visit to the Route of the Cistercian Vineyards. We will be most pleased to help you make this trip unforgettable.