The Portuguese Way hold a special place among the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela. One of the characteristics of this route is how diverse and varied they were in the middle ages, crossing all parts of Portugal en route to Compostela.
The Portuguese Way is important as it brings pilgrims from the most westerly part of Portugal. Starting from Porto, it follows north, linking medieval towns. All these towns plays an important role in this pilgrim Way due to its location, its historical importance and the fact that many aspects of the Jacobean faith have been well preserved there.
Recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site since 1996, Porto is one of the most important cities of the Iberian Peninsula. Its origins can be traced to the Bronze Age (8th century A.C.). Nowadays it is a dynamic city looking towards the future, where modernity and tradition go harmoniously hand in hand, and it’s this that places Oporto in the major European cities route. Its monumental and architectural wealth can only be compared to the dynamic and diversified commercial life it has to offer.
The city of Barcelos is situated in the heart of Minho, head of the biggest municipality in the country, with 89 parishes. Home of the elegant and colourful ceramic cock, deeply associated with the famous “Legend of the Cock”. Its more than 700 years of history are present in the artistic and cultural heritage of the historical city centre, in the emblematic weekly market (Thursday), in the traditional Festival of the Crosses (3rd May) and in the various local arts and crafts. Throughout the county this heritage can be appreciated through a unique landscape, where the surrounding lush hills of Franqueira, Saia, Facho or Airó, fuse with the beautiful churches and monasteries, typical granite houses and the characteristic water-mills. All these elements combined with the warm and welcoming nature of its people create the perfect backdrop for a remarkable visit.
Ponte de Lima is Minho personified, with its natural beauty and rustic environment. It is located in the middle of the Lima valley. It is full of history and was on the military road from Braga to Tui.
Queen Teresa gave it its first charter in 1125 and established a fair to encourage population and economic growth. Later in the 14th century, King Pedro I fortified the town. During King Fernando”s reign it was the most secure defensive position of the North of Portugal.
The old roads have houses of granite, Baroque, neo-classical and 1800s façades and renowned religious buildings. In 1995 Ponte da Lima won the European Grand Prize of Tourism and Environment.
From the Romans there is a stone marker indicating the Roman road between Braga and Tui. From King Sancho I it received its first charter and King Afonso II confirmed the charter. It used to be called "Contrasta" because it was opposite the frontier from Tui. Today it is called Valença and it played a part in the Wars of Restoration, the Napoleonic invasions and the Liberal Wars in the 1800s.
It is a Medieval world within the old fortress of Valença. There are narrow little streets and small houses and colourful shops as Valença is one of the largest commercial centres of Minho.
Tui is, above all, a walled cathedral which emanated cultural, economic and military life. Always with an eye on neighbouring Portugal, it sits on a border which no longer serves any purpose. Tui is more peaceful for it, and as they stroll through its medieval streets, travellers can understand why the city has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site. Featuring among Tui's architectural heritage is the Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral, the churches of San Bartolomé –Romanesque- and San Telmo –baroque- and several miradors. This river flows into the Miño, the true key figure in the life of the city, forming a natural frontier with Portugal. In fact, all the routes which left the neighbouring country and which did not join the Ruta de la Plata would end up in Tui.
Located at the heart of the Rias Baixas, on the estuary of the River Lérez, Pontevedra is a beautiful city that must be visited and enjoyed calmly. Distinguished by its Historical Centre, one of the best preserved in the Euro-region, Pontevedra boasts both important civil and religious building. Its charming squares, such as the Plaza de la Leña with its stone crucifix, the Plaza del Teucro with its beautiful shields cut in stone or the Plaza de la Herrería with its characteristic atriums, where one can enjoy the terraces, the excellent local gastronomy and the animated night life that characterizes the city.
Traditionally, this town's history is linked to that of the apostle Santiago (St. James). Situated just 22 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela, this town's origins are linked to Iría Flavia. This was the Roman city to which the apostle Santiago's remains were brought from Jerusalem. Its countryside, gastronomy and historic heritage are the main attractions for tourists, although the town is perhaps best known as the home of two important writers: poet Rosalía de Castro and Nobel literature prize winner, Camilo José Cela. In fact, in this town you will find the Rosalía de Castro House-Museum and the Camilo José Cela Foundation.
The city of Santiago de Compostela was founded in the IX Century after the recent discovery of the tomb of Saint James. It was initially just a simple sanctuary which soon developed into a city due to the influx of pilgrims who came to pay homage. Over time it has become one of the three major cities of Christianity along with Jerusalem and Rome. As well as its religious importance the city now has its own architectural grandeur and symbolism and was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1985.