Discover the Douro Region
Vila Nova de Gaia
The Douro is an idyllic place often visited by couples for a romantic getaway. Discover three love stories that had the Douro River as a backdrop.
The serenity of the river and the almost wild beauty of nature make the Douro one of the most romantic destinations in Portugal! From Porto to Barca d’Alva, couples from all over the world choose the Douro for a romantic getaway. But it is not just now that this river inspires epic passions and romances. Discover 3 love stories that took place on the banks of this fascinating river!
1. Ilha dos Amores legend (island of loves)
Castelo de Paiva
In Castelo de Paiva, on the spot where the river Paiva crosses the Douro, a small island emerges where peace and love are king and queen. There are those who know it as Ilha do Outeiro or Ilha do Castelo, but this piece of land is famous among locals as Ilha dos Amores. And it’s the origin of this name that we’re going to talk about.
Legend has it that on this island a farmer and a noblewoman from the region lived a forbidden love story. The couple lived their love in secret due to the customs of the time that forbade relations between people of different social status, when one day a nobleman asked for the hand of the noblewoman. Knowing that he would lose the love of his life in an act of despair and madness, the farmer killed and threw the new suitor of his beloved into the Douro River. Then taking refuge on the island, afraid of the consequences. Not resisting the longing, the peasant returned to land to rescue the noblewoman and ask him to live with him on the island. But on the way back to the island, such a storm broke out that the small boat where the lovers followed sank and both perished. Thus the legend was born and the Island became known as the Amores.
Nowadays, Ilha dos Amores continues to be visited by curious people and couples in love, having even been the stage for some weddings.
2. D. Pedro e Inês de Castro
In Vila Nova de Gaia very close to the place where the Douro River and the Atlantic merge into one, there is a beautiful farm that was the scene of one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories in Portugal – the romance between D. Pedro and D. Inês de Castro.
Married to D. Constança Manuel, D. Pedro lived a forbidden love with Inês de Castro, his wife’s companion with whom he met “secretly” at Quinta das Lágrimas in Coimbra. After the death of D. Constança in 1345, D. Pedro started to live maritally with Inês despite the fact that King D. Afonso IV (his father) strongly condemned the relationship. It is estimated that the couple has lived in Quinta do Paco Vila Nova de Gaia between 1351 and 1353, and was the birthplace of the Infanta Beatriz eldest daughter of the couple. In 1355 D. Inês de Castro was murdered in Coimbra at Quinta das Lágrimas at the behest of King D. Afonso IV. But Canidelo was never forgotten by D. Pedro I, who in 1363 elevated this town to the category of municipality. Canidelo was thus the third municipality on the south bank of the Douro River, something that was to be extinguished on April 6, 1375 by King D. Fernando I and which has remained until today.
Currently, in part of the farm’s land operates Cantinho das Aromáticas, a farm of aromatic and medicinal plants that is open to the public. A place to visit several times throughout the seasons and where you can do some of the activities such as harvests, tasting the infusions produced there or simply strolling in the flowery and fragrant fields that were the scene of the love of D. Pedro and D. Inês.
3. Camilo Castelo Branco e Ana Plácido
In 1858, the city of Porto witnessed a scandalous romance that contradicted the good customs and morality prevailing in the society of the time. We talked about the relationship between Camilo Castelo Branco and Ana Plácido, who at the time was married to a wealthy merchant. At the time, adultery was a crime in Portugal. Denounced by Ana Plácido’s husband, the lovers were arrested with Ana convicted of adultery and Camilo convicted of “copulation with a married woman”. They waited more than a year for the trial, held at the Porto Prison (Cadeia da Relação do Porto, currently Centro Português de Fotografia). Here Camilo wrote his famous novel ” Love of Perdition” (A.K.A. Doomed Love) in just 15 days! At the trial both were acquitted since the jury did not consider that there was evidence of the charges. In freedom, the couple rejoined and later moved to the home of Ana’s late husband in Famalicão where they lived the rest of their lives.
The love story of Camilo Castelo Branco and Ana Plácido lasts until today, having been immortalized in the form of sculpture by António Duarte and placed in front of the building where both were held in Porto.