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.
Porto is a historic city, rich in cultural heritage. So rich that some museums go unnoticed, even to its residents. In this article you will get to know 5 museums in Porto, to discover and visit.
Autumn has arrived and nothing better than enjoying its beautiful colors in the city’s parks and gardens.
Whether for family outings to the end-of-week, physical exercise or even to walk your pet, in Porto are several green spaces, free entrance, where you can enjoy nature and enjoy the autumn.
Discover 5 of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Porto that we have selected for you!
1. City Park (Parque da Cidade)
Porto City Park is the largest urban park in Portugal, with an area of 83 hectares that extends to the sea. Designed by the landscape architect Sidónio Pardal, the Park was opened in 1993 but its construction was only completed in 2002.
There are about 10 km of paths to take in the Park where you can find walking places, spaces for sports, lakes, fountains and lawns. Here you can also observe the diversity of the existing fauna, such as wild ducks, swans, geese, hens, fish, frogs, frogs, etc…
Another point of interest in this space is the Water Pavilion (Pavilhão da Água), which was on display at Expo’98, presenting the importance of water, its properties and characteristics and using the strong connection of the Portuguese to rivers and the sea.
2. Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal)
Designed in the 1860s by German landscaper Emílio David to surround the then Palácio de Cristal, these romantic gardens rich in botany offer many places to be with viewpoints and views of the Douro River.
It consists of several thematic gardens, namely the Garden of Aromatic Plants, Garden of Medicinals, Garden of Roseiral and also the Garden of Feelings where there is a statue of António Teixeira Lopes. Centenary Japanese trees, viewpoints and a secluded lake with many swans and ducks are some of the attractions of these gardens. And of course the famous peacocks that roam freely, always ready to show off for visitors’ photos.
The gardens of the Palácio de Cristal are located in an upper part of the city which provides a beautiful view of the Ribeira do Porto and the bank of Gaia, the river Douro and the sea. This landscape becomes even more magical at sunset …
3. S. Roque Park
This park, unknown to many because it is located in the eastern part of the city, is one of the most beautiful in Porto and worth visiting.
With about four hectares and with romantic characteristics, the park of S. Roque offers a vast green area to exercise or relax.
Sculptures and benches in granite, a chapel, a pond with ducks, Japanese and a palatial house with beautiful architectural details are some of the attractions of the park. There is also a playground for children and in the center of the property the labyrinth of Buxus sempervirens shrubs where no one can resist being ‘lost’.
4. Nova Sintra Park
Former property of the Baron of Nova Sintra to whom the Park Nova Sintra owes its name was acquired by the Porto City Council in 1932 to install the headquarters of Águas do Porto here.
In the 7 hectares of the Park you can visit the formal flower garden or the romantic forest and observe species such as magnolias and camellias scattered throughout the property. There are also water sources and fountains from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that were brought from all over the city of Porto and contribute to the romantic atmosphere of this Park.
In addition to the beauty of the vegetation, the Nova Sintra Park offers a fantastic view of the Douro River. In autumn, with the ground covered by fallen leaves, the environment becomes even more special …
5. Virtues Garden (Jardim das Virtudes)
Behind the Palace of Justice in the heart of the historic center of Porto is one of the most beautiful gardens in the city that nevertheless goes unnoticed by many – the Virtues Garden.
With a panoramic view of the Douro River, Vila Nova de Gaia and the customs building, this green space has a particularity that distinguishes it from the others – it is a vertical garden, that is, it develops in terraces along the street reminding the vineyards of the Alto Douro.
In this garden you will be able to appreciate some sculptural pieces by several contemporary authors but the greatest treasure of this garden is a tree – the largest Ginkgo Biloba in the country, about 35 meters high. Considered one of the largest trees in Europe in January 2005, it was classified as a tree of public interest by the Directorate General of Forests.
From the unique layout to the wonderful panoramic view of the Douro River, it is a case of saying that there is no lack of virtues in this garden.