Through Távora Lands, between Nature and History

A tour around the valley of the Távora river through extremely beautiful sites, such as the Sanctuary of Senhora da Lapa, Fonte Arcada, Salzedas, São João de Tarouca or the Ucanha fortress-bridge.

The first objective of this trip is the Santuário da Senhora da Lapa, located near Sernancelhe. Inserted between boulders, it was built by Jesuits in the seventeenth century. Behind the main altar is the image of Our Lady of Lapa, in the place where it was found 500 years ago. Continue through the corridor dug in the rock, dedicated to ex-votos left by pilgrims, where, hanging from the ceiling, stands a wooden replica of a huge crocodile. It evokes the miracle that is said to have saved a believer overseas, also referring to the legend of a young shepherdess who would have won a huge lizard, throwing balls of wool that the monster swallowed up until choking. But surprises are not over yet: behind the altar, a very narrow passage between two boulders can only be crossed by those who are sinless... Outside the precincts of the shrine, pretty close, a short walk brings us to the source of the river Vouga, a small trickle of water among the grass of a lush little lawn. We then follow to Sernancelhe, the "capital of the nut." Visit the Romanesque church from the twelfth century, rebuilt in the sixteenth century, and also the pillory, the cross and the remains of the castle. Continuing our way through the zone of the river Tavora, we pass through the village of Fonte Arcada. Its interesting historical center deserves a thorough visit: the Palace of D. Loba, a beautiful example of civil Gothic architecture of the XV-XVI centuries; the Parish church, of Romanesque origin, rebuilt in the sixteenth century, built on an ancient Christian necropolis; and the fountain with its Gothic arch, which gave its name to the town. Starting from the breakwater of Barragem do Vilar, make a detour to see the medieval bridge of Granja do Tedo: follow through Vilar, Cabaços and Arcos. From there you reach Granja do Tedo, via Nagos, Longra and Carrazedo. Arrived in Moimenta da Beira, it is worth visiting the Mosteiro de Nossa Senhora da Purificação of a seventeenth-century design, and the old Solar dos Carvalhais of the eighteenth century, which houses the City Hall. Next, the Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca is the first Cistercian monastery built in Portugal, received its charter in 1140 from King Afonso Henriques. From the old building, today only the church is left, where you can see the tomb of Peter, Count of Barcelos, illegitimate son of King Dinis. The neighbouring Salzedas monastery is also a Cistercian one. You cannot help noticing the contrast between the imposing monastery and the simplicity of the small houses with their wooden verandas. The next destination is perhaps the most important of this trip: Torre de Ucanha. Built in the middle of the stone bridge over the river Barosa, apparently it was built in the reign of King Dinis, to protect the entry of the monks in the lands of Salzedas. It was also used to collect the toll to travelers and merchants. The complex is well preserved, and the bridge is closed to traffic. To end this tour, we just have to go through a short linkage by road to get to the beautiful town of Lamego.

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