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Situated in the middle of the tranquil Lima valley, the town of Ponte de Lima is just about 15 miles East of Viana do Castelo and the Atlantic coast, and approximately 56 miles north of Porto. If the essence of the Minho could be summed up in one town, it would be here, Ponte de Lima boasts beautiful Baroque and neo-classical manor houses, churches, ancient chapels and fantastic public gardens. Positioned on the original Roman road which connected Tui with Braga, Ponte de Lima became a centre of commerce and trade. Only remnants remain of the medieval battlements – at one time it was the most fortified town in Northern Portugal with 600 metres of walls, ten towers, two torrents and six entrances. In 1995 Ponte da Lima won the European Grand Prize for Tourism and Environment.
Ponte de Lima - Bridge
The stone Roman Bridge which lends the town its name crosses the River Lima and connects the town with Arcozelo on the other bank. It's believed the bridge was first built in the first century during the reign of Emperor Augustus. It was rebuilt during the 14th century, sadly only seven partially covered narrow arches on the north bank remain from the Roman construction. The medieval bridge is gothic in style. It was probably finished in 1370 during the period King Dom Pedro I had the town fortified. Further modifications were made in 1504 when the bridge received its paving and crenellation. Two defensive towers we built at the same time but were subsequently pulled down in the late 19th century.
On the Northern side of the bridge is the beautiful 18th-century church of Santo António da Torre Velha and beyond. Along with the bridge, it's probably the most photographed object in Ponte de Lima. Its profile makes a wonderful foreground to the mountains beyond. Azuleijo tiles cover the churches façade, yet the interior is relatively stark. The church and surrounding gardens are still worth a visit. 41º 46’ 9,6” N | 8º 35’ 14,0” W
The market of Ponte de Lima is the oldest in Portugal and has existed since 4th March 1125. Dona Teresa, the mother of Dom Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, granted the charter to Ponte de Lima. Every other Monday on the south bank of the river, hundreds of traders gather to show their best wares: various fresh vegetables and fruit, sweets, bread, cheeses, charcuterie as well as clothes, shoes and various household items.
As well as the fortnightly market there's a Craft market on each fourth Sunday of each month. An antiques market every second Sunday can be found along the river bank.
If you miss these markets you still have the Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal de Ponte de Lima) that is open Monday - Saturday from 07h00 – 19h00 and is a purveyor of regional produce.
Ponte de Lima - Market
The Torre da Cadeia Velha or Torre da Porta Nova on the river bank was once part of the original walled fortifications and later used as a prison until the 1960s. Inside you can see signatures of the unfortunate prisoners scratched into the walls. Later it housed the town's historical archives, before becoming an art gallery.
The parish church was originally built between 1425 and 1446. The bell tower was added much later. Its peculiar mix of styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Neoclassical, are the result of several alterations over the centuries. An example mishmash is the gothic portal crowned by the 18th century rose window. Inside can be found two side altars; on the right is a 17th-century dedication to Nossa Senhora das Dores and on the left a shrine to Nossa Senhora de Fátima from the 18th century, both are incredible carvings. Also inside can be found a Manueline style font.
No town in the Minho would be complete without its fountain. Ponte de Lima's fountain was first commissioned in 1575 and was completed in 1603. Its original home was in the Largo Dr António Magalhães and was transferred to the Largo de Camões in 1929. The work is attributed to the master from Ponte de Lima João Lopes, the younger. The square where it resides faces the river and bridge. A cluster of restaurants makes it an ideal spot for lunch.
In terms of temperature range, the sub-region of Lima occupies an intermediate position in relation with the other sub-regions. However, rainfall is higher. The altitude of the vineyards is variable and increases the further you travel from the coast, where the terrain is also more irregular, giving rise to some micro-climates in the Lima Valley, sometimes referred to as Lower Lima and Higher Lima. Like in the Cávado sub-region, there is a strip of soil consisting of schist and granite soils, though it is not a significant stretch. The most famous white wines from this sub-region are produced from the Loureiro variety. The aromas are fine and elegant, ranging from citrus to floral. The Arinto and Trajadura varieties are also widely found here because they adapt well to those climates less influenced by Atlantic winds. The reds are mainly produced from Vinhão and Borraçal varieties. Usually, the red wines from the more inland zones show better ageing potential, due to climatic conditions that affect ripening.
One of a handful of excellent Cooperatives in the Minho region who produce Vinho Verde of great quality, their 100% Loureiro is continuously good year after year. Since its creation in 1957, it has expanded from its initial 47 growing members to over 2000. They now produce over 50,000 hectolitres of wine a year and export to an increasing number of countries. Situated just outside of the town they're open for guided wine tasting tours throughout the year, even during harvest time. For the price of ten euros, you'll experience a presentation from an oenologist, a tasting of some of their brands and a three-bottle gift box. Visits should be booked in advance.
Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 - 13h00/14h00 - 18h00, Sundays: CLOSED
Monte de Santa Luzia, 4901-910, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
N 41° 42’ 15” | W 08° 50’ 00 | +351 258 825 917
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During the second weekend of September Ponte de Lima turns into a party town, despite its name, Feiras Novas (New Fair), has been sending Ponte de Lima bonkers for almost 200 years. The first Feiras Novas was occurred by royal appointment in 1826 in honour of Lady of Sorrows. Besides music, folklore and fireworks, there are other events like competitions, racing ponies, ethnographic and historical processions, processions of "gigantones" (the large four-metre tall dolls, a structure of which is worn and handled inside. The festivities last for three days and nights drawing in thousands of visitors from near and far alike. But it is the people with their joy and spontaneity, their way of celebrating at the party that makes the Feiras Novas a unique moment. There is plenty of singing, folklore in every corner of the town and a pilgrimage that is considered the "largest live congress of popular culture in Portugal".
Associação Concelhia das Feiras Novas
+351 258 900 400 | email@example.com | Website
Statues of roman soldiers in Ponte de Lima
The Roman historian Livy (Titus Livius Patavinus 59BC-AD17) reported that when the legions first encountered the river Lima the foot soldiers refused to cross because they believed it was the legendary River Lethes, the river of forgetfulness. Proconsul Decimus Junius Brutus had marched his troops across most of Iberia refused to allow this superstition to thwart his ambitions. After taking the standard, he traversed the river alone on horseback and encouraged his men across from the opposite bank. Today this tale is remembered in the guise of two interesting monuments on either side of the river.
The Romans wouldn't have found this area uninhabited though, this was the land of the Limicos, which is probably the origin of the name of the river. A few archaeological remains of iron aged settlements have been found such as the Castro of Santo Estêvão da Facha.
This contemporary hotel and spa is a stone's throw from the river Lima and the historical centre of Ponte de Lima. The rooms are bright, airy, comfortable and fully fitted. Guests of the INLIMA can relax on the terrace and enjoy a range of massages at the spa, including full-body massages, facials and pedicures. The spa also features a relaxing Turkish bath. All air-conditioned guest rooms at the 4-star INLIMA Hotel are bright and airy. They include a cable TV, a minibar and a private bathroom with a hairdryer. The Hotel & Spa serves a rich buffet breakfast consisting of sweet and savoury dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients.
Rua Agostinho José Taveira, Lote 6, 4990-072 Ponte de Lima, Portugal.
41º 45" 57.9' N | 08º 35" 4.6' W
Dating back to the 16th century, Hotel Paço de Vitorino is located a ten minutes drive from Ponte de Lima centre, featuring a Baroque-style garden. This manor house provides free WiFi and an iPod docking station in the rooms. Rooms are located in three different wings, and they all include air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a mini-bar and an Estremoz marble bathroom. Some rooms offer views of the Lima River, while others overlook the garden or the natural landscape. Breakfast is available at the property, and can be served indoors or on the balcony overlooking the garden.
Carreira do Paço nº 270 - Vitorino de Donas, 4990-800 Ponte de Lima, Portugal.
41º 44' 05.5" N | 08º 38' 55.7" W | +351 258 738 578
The Hotel Império do Norte is located centrally within Ponte de Lima. WiFi is free throughout the property and free garage parking is available on site. The hotel offers 45 standard rooms, two suites with river views, one triple room and one suite which is suitable for guests with limited mobility. All are comfortably equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, telephone and balcony. The rooms and suites each have private bathrooms with a shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Some units have views over Avenida dos Plátanos and the Lima River. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. There is also a bar, which serves refreshing drinks and cocktails. Bike rental is available.
Avenida 5 de Outubro 97 Ponte de Lima Rua 5 de Outubro 97 Ponte de Lima, 4900-030 Ponte de Lima, Portugal.
N 41º 46' 02.1" | W 08º 35' 10.9" | +351 258 009 008
A popular and cosy restaurant with a distinct Minho atmosphere which serves generous steaks and grill meat, bacalhau and fish.
Tuesday - Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 22h00, Sunday Evening & Monday: CLOSED
Rua Beato Francisco Pacheco 39 - 41, Ponte de Lima 4990 083, Portugal.
41° 45' 53" N | 08° 34' 57.9" W
+351 254 612 394
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With a magnificent view over the river Lima, Restaurante Acude serves great food and an excellent choice of wines. Indulge in a variety of local specialities such as bacalhau, octopus and lamprey from the Lima river.
Monday - Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 22h00, Sunday Evening: CLOSED
Centro Nautico de Ponte de Lima - Arcozelo, Ponte de Lima 4990-150, Portugal.
41º 45" 55.91' N | 08º 35" 28.71' W
+351 258 944 158
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Ponte de Lima is 84km (52 miles) North of Lisbon Portela Airport. Website
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Reached from Porto, Braga and South along the A3. From Viana do Castelo and the West take the A27. From Spain, Valença and the North take the A3.
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There are no trains that go to Ponte de Lima, the closest train station is at Viana do Castelo: Train Timetable | Comboios de Portugal Website
• AV Minho: Website Service from Viana do Castelo to Ponte de Lima Timetable