September 2011 Visit to the Upper Douro

Branch: 

The autumn excursion of the British Historical Society of Portugal this year was to the Douro region of Northern Portugal and took place from 13th to 17th September. Eighteen members first visited Viseu to see the fine cathedral, museum and historic centre, before continuing to a hotel in Vila Real which they used as a base.

The first full day was by train up the river to the Symington-owned Quinta do Vesuvio where the group were shown around and given lunch, during which the Quinta’s table wines and the vintage ports of 1999 and 2009 were savoured and compared.

The second day took us to a Roman site, Panóias, to see the sacrificial holes carved into granite boulders, and then to the gardens and palace of Casa de Mateus, where the fabulous furniture and wooden ceilings were much admired. The afternoon was spent in the Parque Natural da Serra de Alvão where artisanal activities were seen, including the care of maronês cattle and the use of lush, high-altitude pastures which are self-irrigated throughout the year.

The next day was taken up with a cruise on the ´Princesa do Douro` from Régua to Barca d´Alva, with a return by train from Pocinho.  There were superb views of the port quintas, including the many with British connections, such as Foz do Temilobos, Quinta da Rosa, and Malvedos where Union Jacks were flying.

Before returning to Lisbon on the final day, we visited Lamego to see numerous national treasures in its museum, as well as the Sé and Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. At the final lunch, the our leaders were warmly thanked for the fine organization of the whole journey.