Chaves Tourist Attractions
The old-world little town of Chaves, the Roman Aquae Flaviae, lies on a plateau in northern Portugal near the Spanish frontier, in an area watered by the Rio Tâmega which has been intensively cultivated since ancient times. As far back as the Romans there has been recourse to the town's hot springs (73°C/163°F) for the treatment of rheumatism and internal ailments, and the modern thermal baths below the castle are well used today.HistoryThe town has a history dating back to pre-Roman times. With a substantial stone bridge over the Rio Tâmega built in the reign of Trajan (98-117), it became an important staging point on the road between Asturica Augusta (Astorga) and Bracara Augusta (Braga). During the Middle Ages it was a stronghold defending Portuguese territory against Spain in the north.TownscapeThe town still presents a sturdy defensive face to the world, its powerful castle rearing above the white houses with their balconies and arcades.
Sao Joao de Deus
Near the Ponte Romana, on the left bank of the Rio Tâmega in Chaves, stands the Baroque church of Sao Joao de Deus, an octagonal structure made particularly impressive by its fine granite facade.
The life of the town revolves around the Praça da República, with a Manueline pelourinho (pillory column) and the parish church, the Igreja Matriz. Originally Romanesque, this was rebuilt in the 16th C., only the tower and part of the doorway surviving from the earlier church.
Igreja da Misericórdia
Behind the parish church in Chaves the Baroque church of the Misericórdia (17th century) has azulejo pictures (Biblical scenes) covering the interior walls and fine 18th century ceiling paintings.
The municipal museum in the 17th century palace of the Dukes of Bragança contains archeological material found locally, coins, azulejos and folk art.
Castelo (Torre de Menagem)
The massive castle above the town was built on the site of a Roman fortress. It was strengthened after the Moorish conquest, badly damaged during the Reconquista and rebuilt by King Dinis in the 13th/14th C. The medieval castle was the residence of the first Duke of Bragança, a natural son of King Joao I. In the 17th C. Vauban-style bastions were built on to the castle, but these were later destroyed. The imposing keep, the Torre de Menagem, houses a small military museum.
Nossa Senhora da Azinheira, Outeiro Seco, Portugal
Santo Estevao, Portugal
The interesting feature of Santo Estêvao, 3km/2mi east of Chaves, is its 13th C. castle ruins.
About 15km/9mi southwest of Chaves, Vidago (alt. 350m/1,148ft) has hot springs used to treat internal ailments. Some sanatoria and hotels have been forced to close, however, but the Art Nouveau Palace Hotel is worth a visit.
Carvalhelhos, about 30km/19mi west of Chaves, is a little spa. Nearby are the remains of an Iron Age settlement.
The name of Pedras Salgados (12km/7.5mi south of Vidago) is well known as the name of a popular bottled mineral water.