Embraced by the Sea, Rivers and Mountains, Caminha embraces us in an authentic "Mosaic of Landscapes", with exuberant vegetation, crystalline and peaceful waters of the rivers Minho, Coura and Âncora, with green slopes that embrace several parishes and the harmonious Serra d’Arga with 700 meters of altitude.
Caminha is a beautiful village in the North of Portugal, seat of the municipality, located right at the mouth of the River Minho, in a place blessed by nature, bordering Spain. A daily ferry-boat joins the two banks of the river.
In the middle of the estuary of the river Minho, on an islet of Ínsua, the ruins of the Forte da Ínsua built in the XV century, to defend the entrance to the Minho River, consisting of the convent, the church and the lighthouse.
But this region does not live only from the past. In Vilar de Mouros, a picturesque place of rustic beauty, located about 6 kms to the north, in August a popular Modern Music Festival is held, which was the first of its kind to take place in Portugal.
In the village, what remains of the Castle and defensive walls stand out, the beautiful 15th century Mother Church, the 16th century Misericórdia Church, the curious set of Manueline and Renaissance houses on the picturesque Rua Direita, known for the “eight houses”, and one that is a symbol of the city (along with the idyllic mouth): the Clock Tower, the only one of the three entrance doors in the village of Castelo, which constituted the main access to the village. In front of the Clock Tower, the Renaissance Chafariz do Terreiro. Enjoy and visit the walls and the beautiful central square where you can find the Clock Tower and plenty of terraces for snacking.
To enter the heart of Caminha, just start the walk through Praça Conselheiro Silva Torres, which the locals call Terreiro and which has become the visiting room of the village. The square is full of esplanades of cafes and pastry shops and is prohibited to traffic, so you can let children run around the cobblestone and play around the fountain - a work of urban art built almost 500 years ago. Around there, everything is measured in hundreds of years: in the 12th century, the Terreiro was a great expanse of sand, but six centuries ago it became the center of Caminha's social life.
The Paços do Concelho building, a palace that is almost a hundred years old, has its doors open to her. Inside, there is the Interactive Store, where you can learn more about Caminha and collect some information.
Still in the square, it is important to pay attention to Casa dos Pittas, a neo-Manueline-style urban palace, and to visit the Clock Tower - which was once the main tower, and the highest, of Caminha castle. The public clock that gives it its name was installed in the 17th century. Ahead is the Largo do Corpo da Guarda, where graduation and surrender of the military garrison took place for centuries. A little further on, in Travessa do Tribunal, is the old prison - where the inmates asked for tobacco and two fingers of conversation from those who passed by on the street -, today functioning as a Municipal Museum. The main church, a landmark of the city, is at the end of the street, in Largo da Matriz. Whoever enters there can appreciate unique details such as the rotating tabernacle with scenes from the Passion of Christ and its tiles. A good stroll after lunch is a stretch of legs that is worthwhile: go along the river's edge to the woods of Camarido, which D. Dinis had planted, and from there to the beach where the Minho River meets the Atlantic. From there you can see, on an island 200 meters away from the coastline, the Forte da Ínsua. The monument, although small, is rich in curiosities. Inside, there is, a rare thing in the middle of the sea, a well of fresh water. But there is more: from time to time, the tide recedes in such a way that sandbanks are formed that allow you to reach the fort on foot. This phenomenon occurs approximately every 50 years - the last time in 2001. You never know for sure when the phenomenon will recur. Until then, however, there is plenty of Caminha to discover.
The magnificent beaches of Foz do Minho, Moledo, Vila Praia de Âncora and Forte do Cão, in fantastic whiteness and luminosity, are the hallmark of Caminha, as a tourist attraction factor, where history and heritage complete this mosaic with the its imposing monuments from all historical times. There are many leisure areas and viewpoints to discover. Summer brings a vibrant nightlife in various places in the municipality and, throughout the year, a gastronomy intensely marked by the flavors of the sea, the river and the land.
Holder of a vast cultural and natural heritage, the municipality of Caminha does not leave anyone indifferent for its medieval "air", in the historic center of the county seat. Throughout the municipality, the History of Portugal is breathed and propagated as in a book stamped on the stones of the sidewalks, in the narrow streets, in the romantic corners and in the various spaces of artistic, religious, military or civil richness, through a visit to their parishes.
Located on the islet of Ínsua, in the parish of Moledo, O Forte da Ínsua, has been classified as a National Monument since 1910. This islet was initially occupied by a Franciscan community in the 14th century, when they built the convent of Santa Maria da Ínsua. The first fortress must also date from this period, but of which nothing remains. The fortress as we know it today dates from the 17th century, from the reign of King João IV. The irregular star plant fort, with five bastions and revelim, is part of the Franciscan convent, enlarged in 1676.
In the vicinity of the village there are still vestiges of civilizations granted to pre and proto-historical times, such as rock engravings, mammoas, dolmens and castros, in an extensive number of monuments and ancestral vestiges that last in time, alive with each step we propose to grant in various itineraries, according to the season we wish to visit, in a harmonious mix of past and present.
Surfing is also becoming a new attraction for people on the coast of Caminha, creating a particular cosmopolitanism in places like Vila Praia de Âncora, which, while still being a peaceful land of fishermen and a family refuge for generations, was prestigious with the arrangement of its long and graceful maritime marginal. A fishing village in the municipality of Caminha, which has become a popular beach for young people, especially foreigners. The center of the village is practically a block, with old and traditional houses, its central Praça da República being a good place to enjoy it - and other things, since local products and food fairs are held there every month. antiques. In the square, there is one of the emblems of the village, the renovated chapel of Nossa Senhora da Bonança, patron saint of fishermen, which has its local festival in September.
The viewpoints are privileged places that offer tourists a view of the countless landscapes and beautiful and unique places!!!... The municipality of Caminha has several viewpoints from which it is possible to glimpse from the River Minho, passing through the valleys and mountains, reaching the sea!
In Caminha, genuine and popular culture is still manifested in popular festivals and pilgrimages, of which the festivities in honor of Santa Rita de Cássia, Nossa Sra. Da Bonança, S. Bento, the Festa das Solhas and the Pilgrimage of Santiago stand out. São João D'Arga, the latter, is known for being the most genuine party in the Alto Minho, where traditions, customs and, undoubtedly, fun prevail. The Medieval Fair also represents a tourist attraction, in which the streets are full of foreigners and lively music (in July).
Original artifacts come from the hands of men and women, carrying memories of ancestral customs and uses. It is the handicraft, alive and varied, attesting to the history of a people, which also makes itself known through this know-how.
Highlight for the linen weaving, the lace and embroidery, the regional costumes, the wooden artifacts, the iron art, the hearts of palm, the miniature boats and the jams and liqueurs.
Caminha is a land of rich customs, with primacy in popular culture, where it maintains one of the oldest traditions of Alto-Minho: ethnography and folklore. Preserving the uses and customs of their ancestors, associated with country life, costumes, singing or dancing is a strong bet for the autonomous city of Camineiro.
VILA PRAIA DE ÂNCORA...
Currently, Vila Praia de Âncora, due to its beach and wonderful landscapes and its various monuments, testimonies of its exceptional history, is a village dedicated essentially to Tourism. Its cultural and natural heritage, handicrafts, water sports, fishing and gastronomic traditions contribute to a pleasant stay in Vila Praia de Âncora.
The beach of Vila Praia de Âncora offers all the conditions to enjoy the bathing season in full. Within the required quality parameters, the extensive sands and the sea, combined with the landscape, provide all vacationers with a memorable season. Much sought after, this beach includes all the necessary equipment for its enjoyment and its therapeutic qualities, due to the amount of iodine, are recognized.
Visit the Lagarteira Fort, located in the Portinho de Vila Praia de Âncora and classified as a Public Interest Building since 1967. Military fortress from the XVII-XVIII Century, had as objective the defense of the coast against the threat of the Spanish armada.
In Vila Praia de Âncora, do not forget to visit the Calvary of religious architecture, fourteen crosses, of great simplicity, based on pedestals with inscriptions corresponding to the respective passage of the Via Sacra or the Dolmen da Barrosa, funerary megalithic monument, classified national monument 1910 and considered one of the most emblematic megalithic monuments in the Iberian Peninsula.
Sources & Credits: Câmara Municipal de Caminha / 360º Portugal
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