Viana do Castelo is one of the most beautiful cities in the north of Portugal. It’s participation in the Portuguese Discoveries and, later, in cod fishing show it’s traditional connection to the sea.
Viana do Castelo is quickly accessed from Porto, or from Valença for those coming from Spain. From the Santa Luzia Sanctuary you can see the privileged geographical situation of the city, next to the sea and the mouth of the river Lima. This stunning view and the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Ventura Terra's revivalist building from 1898, can be the starting point for visiting the city.
Viana was enriched with Manor Homes with “Coat of Arms”, palaces, churches and convents, fountains that constitute a patrimonial heritage worth visiting. At the Tourist Office you can order a brochure and take routes inspired by Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Deco or tile. Walking through some of the streets in the historic center, you always reach Praça da República, the heart of the city. It is where the Misericórdia building and the fountain, from the 16th century, are located, as well as the old City Halls. Not far away is the Romanesque Sé or Matriz Church.
Facing the sea that made Viana's history, a baroque church holds the image of Senhora da Agonia, of the fishermen's devotion. It is celebrated every year on August 20 to bless the sea in one of the most colorful festivals in Portugal, where the beauty and richness of the typical costumes that parade in the festivals are worth mentioning.
Viana is also known for filigree in gold, has been able to maintain its traditions, as can be seen at the Museu do Traje (costume and gold), at the Municipal Museum (special emphasis on the typical Viana crockery displayed here) or on the Gil Eanes ship. Built at the Viana do Castelo Shipyards to support cod fishing, the ship is once again anchored in memory of the city's maritime and shipbuilding traditions.
But Viana do Castelo is also considered a “Mecca of Architecture” thanks to the many important names of contemporary Portuguese architecture that have left their mark on equipment and spaces in the city. This is the case of the Praça da Liberdade by Fernando Távora, the Álvaro Siza Vieira Library (Pritzker Prize 1992), the Pousada da Juventude by Carrilho da Graça, the Hotel Axis by Jorge Albuquerque or the Cultural Center of Viana do Castelo, by Souto Moura (Pritzker Prize 2018), among many others.
On the outskirts of the city, we can take a stroll along the coastal or river bike path or on one of the many marked trails, as well as practice surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing and bodyboarding on fine golden sand beaches. And jet-skiing, sailing, rowing or canoeing on the Lima River.
Sources & Credits: Câmara Municipal de Viana do Castelo / Turismo de Portugal / 360º Portugal
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