The Douro region is one of the oldest and most splendid vineyard regions in Europe.

It’s located in the north of Portugal and it comprised exuberant landscapes. Several table wines of the finest quality and the famous port Wine are produced in its steep hills and rugged terrain. The wine production area, the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, is a World Heritage site since 2001. It encompasses 24600 hectares and 13 municipalities.

The Douro River is the 2nd largest in the Iberian Peninsula. Its source is located in a Spanish mountain and enters Portugal through the village of Barca d’Álva, running 213 km before ending at Foz do Douro, its mouth.

The name of the river maybe have its origin in the Celtic word dur (water) or in the Latin word duris (hard, due to its cliffs’ roughness) or perhaps it’s related to the wealth that has produced (Douro can be roughly translated to ‘Of gold’).

In the past, Douro was a dangerous river, but with the establishment of several dams throughout its length, it became totally navigable and safe. There are 5 dams in Douro’s Portuguese side and, within each one, a lock. It’s a floodgate system which works as if it was a water lifting device, where ships ascend and descend several different water levels.

The dam of Carrapatelo is the one with the biggest unevenness, with 35 meters. Going through it in a boat is an unforgettable experience.

Besides ensuring the river’s seaworthiness, the dams also allow the electricity generation and the management of the river’s flow.

In the region of Douro, you can also find these UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Historic Center of Porto –with gothic and baroque monuments which depict its 25 centuries;
  • Archaeological Park of Côa Valley (the Coâ River ends in Douro) – one of the most important sites in the world when it comes to outdoor Paleolithic art.

One has also to underline the International Douro Nature Park, an area with extremely deep canyons, of immense beauty. And the Alvão Natural Park, an area with enormous landscape and geological interest, located in Serra do Alvão. The waterfalls of the River Olo, called Fisgas de Ermelo, are also worth a mention, with its 200-meter extension.

When traveling throughout the Douro region, I also urge you to visit the town of Pinhão, the village of Trevões and Barca D’Alva. Spare time to do so and lost yourself there for a bit, preferably with a glass of wine in your hand.

Read as well the article about Port Wine.