Miranda do Douro Tourist Attractions
The old episcopal city of Miranda do Douro (Altitude: 690m/2,264ft) in the northeast of Portugal lies on a rocky hill above the deep valley of the Douro (Spanish Duero and dammed at this point), which here marks the frontier with Spain (no frontier crossing). The remoteness of the region, one of the most thinly populated parts of Portugal, has acted as a brake on its cultural and linguistic development, so that it has preserved not only many old customs and traditions but also a local dialect close to Vulgar Latin, the lingua charra or mirandês. Traditional crafts such as weaving and pottery are still widely practiced. Every year on the third Sunday in August (the feast of St Barbara) the dance of the pauliteiros (wooden staves) takes place, a folk dance for men that harks back to the Roman sword dances.TownscapeRather a somber little town, around its marketplace Miranda do Douro has a number of handsome old burghers' houses with coats of arms and Manueline ornamentation.
The Miranda do Douro, a 12th C. castle which once dominated the town was destroyed by an explosion in 1760, leaving only a watch tower.
On a projecting spur of rock above the Douro stands the Cathedral, a 16th C. building with a wide west front flanked by towers. The spacious interior gets its effect from the massive piers. The high altar depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin and the Crucifixion. A quaint feature is the "Infant Jesus in a Tophat", a naïve ex voto of the mid 19th C. From the terrace in front of the Cathedral there is an impressive view of the gray rocky valley of the Douro.
Near the cathedral in Miranda do Douro is the Baroque arcaded courtyard which is all that remains of the Archbishop's Palace, burned down in 1706.
Dams on the Douro
About 3km/2mi east of Miranda do Douro is the Barragem de Miranda do Douro, the first of a series of five dams on the Douro built and operated jointly by Spain and Portugal. Some 25km/15mi downstream the Barragem do Picote is followed by the Barragem da Bemposta, the Barragem de Aldeiadávila and the Barragem de Saucelle.
About 17km/11mi northwest of the town, at the village of Caçarelhos, are large marble and alabaster quarries and beautiful stalactitic caves.
The village of Vimioso, 10km/6mi west from Caçarelhos, has the ruins of a castle of King Dinis which was destroyed in the 18th C. An attractive church, Roman bridges and the idyllic village square are also of interest.
The small regional museum contains curious and many popular everyday items.
Address: Largo Dom João III, Portugal
Opening hours: 9am-12:30pm, 2pm-6pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Anniversity of the Revolution - Portugal (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), National Day - Portugal (Jun 10), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), Republic Day - Portugal (Oct 5), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Independence Day - Portugal (Dec 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Good Friday - Christian, Corpus Christi - Christian
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €1.30, Concession or reduced rate €.70