What to do

The Sousa Valley Romanesque Route

Associação de Municípios do Vale do Sousa CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

When traveling through Porto and northern Portugal, you will come across lots of monuments built in the Romanesque style. The settling in Portugal of various cultures and civilizations over the centuries has left its mark, and these monuments tell a similar story. Throughout the second half of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th centuries, there were a series of transformations in architectural aesthetics that paved the way for the emergence of the Romanesque style in Portugal.

The Sousa Valley (Vale do Sousa in Portuguese) is an area rich in Romanesque monuments. If you are not acquainted with this region then this presents an excellent opportunity to organize a trip through the Sousa Valley. Traditional, local food, monuments and history are all part of the identity of this exciting region. So, shall we begin our journey along the Sousa Valley Romanesque Route?

The heart of northern Portugal has an important Romanesque heritage, which can be seen in its monasteries, churches, memorials, bridges, castles and tower houses. Monuments such as these make up the Romanesque Route, which spans the municipalities of Amarante, Baião, Castelo de Paiva, Celorico de Basto, Cinfães, Felgueiras, Lousada, Marco de Canaveses, Paços de Ferreira, Paredes, Penafiel and Resende.

There are 58 magical monuments on the route, as well as a lifetime of memories, and we are sure that you going to love discovering them all. The area is called the Vale do Sousa due to the fact that, during the 11th century, three of the five most powerful noble families ruled there. These were the Sousa (or Sousões), the Baião and the Ribadouro families, from which Egas Moniz, the famous tutor to King Afonso I, descended.

Here, not only will you find centuries-old paths and places full of history but also locations full of peace, tranquility and nature. Experiencing the local culture includes everything from traditional, local cuisine to the pagan celebrations still practiced here. All of this while you observe the archivolts and ornamental motifs of the area’s various monuments.

The Romanesque architecture found in Tâmega and Sousa is considered unique as many of its features are exclusive to the region. On the capitals and long friezes, the sculpture is both flat and impeccably designed, and makes use of the bevel technique, widely used during Visigoth and Mozarabic times.

Animalist themes emerge supporting the tympana over the doorways, which clearly have the role of defending the entrances to the temple. The Church of the Monastery of the Saviour of Paço de Sousa, in Penafiel, is a prime example of Romanesque architecture in the region.

However, there are still 57 Romanesque monuments left on the route! Want to know more? We are sure that you do, but, as this is a well-kept secret, we are not going to give any more away. To find out more, you will have to pay us a visit. Feel free to contact us for more information. Happy travels!


Where it is