Amarante is stunning! It is on the banks of the Tâmega river and just over 50 kilometers from the city of Porto. The city of Amarante offers history, nature, gastronomy, art and religion. Few cities offer as much as Amarante!
Table of Contents
Amarante is a town with about 11000 inhabitants. A small town that concentrates most of its services and commerce in Vila Meã. Despite its small size, it offers those who live there and those who visit a multitude of attractions! In this article we will tell you everything you can’t miss! We suggest that you book in your agenda 4 full days to feel the soul of Amarante!
WHERE IS AMARANTE?
If you leave from Lisbon, you will cover 361 kilometers and take 3h28 to get to Amarante (via the A1 highway). A small effort that will be amply rewarded.
WHAT TO VISIT IN AMARANTE?
The list is long and 4 days are not too long to see so much. To make it easier for you to read and understand the article, we divided the attractions into 3 blocks: 1-ACTIONS IN THE CENTER OF AMARANTE, 2-MONUMENTS ON THE ROMANIC ROUTE AND 3-Other AMARANTE ATTRACTIONS. To help you choose the sequence of your tour we have prepared a map! We hope it will be useful!
ATTRACTIONS IN THE CENTER OF AMARANTE
AMARANTE HISTORICAL CENTER
Visit the historical center of Amarante on foot! Only on foot can you feel the atmosphere of its typical streets. Go to the convent of São Gonçalo (the most imposing monument of the city) and pass over the bridge over the magnificent Tâmega river. Go to 31 de Janeiro street where you can eat well and drink even better. Come in, sit down, have a drink and chat with the locals.
SÃO GONÇALO BRIDGE
The bridge of São Gonçalo is one of the biggest attractions of Amarante. It was built in the 18th century and succeeded the old fortified bridge dating from medieval times (removed in 1763 following a huge flood of the river Tâmega). Saint Gonçalo is associated with his supposed miracles, namely: removing huge stones with his hands, seeing water rising from the stones and calling for fish to feed the people. In 1809 the new bridge was the place where bloody fights were fought between the Portuguese people and the Napoleonic troops. It was 14 days of defense of the village, in a combat led by general Silveira (later decorated with the title of Count of Amarante). The bridge is 50 meters long and in its extremities there are two baroque obelisks (one obelisk is a commemorative monument).
SÃO PEDRO CHURCH
It was erected on the site of an old chapel. Its construction was completed in the year 1727. The church of São Pedro has a facade and a tower in the Baroque style (artistic style born in Italy and which flourished between the 16th and 18th centuries in other European countries and in the American continent). The sacristy ceiling is covered in wood carving and is considered, in its style, one of the most beautiful in the country.
SÃO DOMINGOS CHURCH
The church of Senhor dos Aflitos (São Domingos church) is reached by a stone path. It was commissioned by the Third Order of São Domingos and opened its doors in 1725. On the outside the baroque style facade stands out. Inside you will find a gilded carving from the 18th century.
Next to the São Domingos church you will find the Museum of Sacred Art, a place where you can admire pieces of art related to religious heritage. It is a very interesting museum consisting of 5 rooms: decorative arts room, paramentary room, painting-pinocular room, imaginary room (19th century) and imaginary room of the 16th and 17th centuries. Those who visit it get to know better the religious art related to Christianity.
SÃO GONÇALO CHURCH AND CONVENT
It was erected in 1540 on the same site where there was already a small religious temple from the Middle Ages (13th century). The construction will have lasted about 60 years and will have finished by the year 1600. It is the great pride of the city and is due to the Saint Saint Gonçalo who settled in Amarante after going on pilgrimage in Rome and Jerusalem. His mortal remains are in a chapel near this monastic complex. Its architecture has Mannerist, Baroque and Renaissance influences. The exterior is imposing and the interior equally impressive and beautiful. Not to be missed!
CHURCH OF MERCY (MISERICÓRDIA)
With the appearance of the Misericórdias in Portugal (16th century), the church of the Misericórdia also appeared. It is not possible to specify the date of construction of the temple but it is known that it underwent major renovations in the nineteenth century, after the barbaric French invasions that destroyed everything in their path. From the original construction there is still a balustrade in the Rococo style choir. Close to the church of the misericordia you will also find an interpretative center of memories of the Misericordia of Amarante. If you visit it you will get to know in depth the role of the institution that already has 500 years of existence.
SOLAR DOS MAGALHÃES
From this 16th century manor house only the exterior walls remain. As the name suggests, the house belonged to the Magalhães family and became a symbol of resistance at the entrance of the town during the Napoleonic invasions. It is said that the French burned down the manor houses in retaliation for the Portuguese resistance at the São Gonçalo bridge. Most of the houses destroyed at that time were later rebuilt. But the Magalhães manor house never underwent restoration works. Today it is a symbol of the resistance and the destruction of the French invasions in the region.
AMADEO DE SOUZA-CARDOSO MUSEUM
The museum is inside an old Dominican convent, next to the church of São Gonçalo de Amarante. In the 80s of the last century, the building underwent a restoration and was transformed into a museum. Its collection includes modern and contemporary Portuguese art collections. There is also an archaeology center and the famous “Devils of Amarante”. The works of Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso are the museum’s main reference.
AMARANTE FOREST PARK
It was in 1916, through the efforts of António do Lago Cerqueira, that the park of Amarante began its planting and development process. It is precisely in the center of the city in perfect harmony with the Tâmega river. There are many who seek the park to do sports, to relax or simply to walk. It has a vast area of 5 hectares (don’t forget that each hectar is equivalent to more or less 1 soccer field). Who visits this place finds a very rich flora (sycamores, brooms and sequoias) and more or less rare animals such as crows and partridges.
AURORA FLUVIAL BEACH
Amarante has several fluvial beaches. We decided to recommend the Aurora fluvial beach (also known as praia fluvial dos Poços) because it is located in the center of Amarante (on the right bank of the river), more exactly on Capitães de Abril street. The beach has the support of several infrastructures that make the visit more pleasant: a beach bar, changing rooms, foot-wash, shadows, parking, rental of seagulls, picnic park. Animals are not allowed on this fluvial beach and it is also not allowed to play ball. At the moment of taking a dive be careful because THERE ARE HUGE ROCKS in the middle of the river.
MONUMENTS OF THE ROMANESQUE ROUTE
The Romanesque Route is a route through 58 magnificent temples located in the North of Portugal. They have in common the Romanesque style that characterizes the religious temples of this region of the country. A path that runs along the rivers Tâmega, Douro and Sousa. It is divided into 3 distinct routes: the Tâmega valley route (25 monuments), the Sousa valley route (19 monuments) and the Douro valley route (14 monuments between Resende and Castelo de Paiva).
Amarante belongs to the Tâmega Valley Route. This route includes monuments located in Celorico de Basto, Amarante, Penafiel and Marco de Canaveses. A very rich experience, full of stunning landscapes and historical information about Portugal’s past. Phenomenal! Now follows the list of religious monuments in Amarante that are part of the Tâmega Valley route.
MONASTERY OF SÃO MARTINHO DE MANCELOS
A very beautiful and very old monastery! The first written records referring to this monastery date back to 1120. A temple that was erected by private individuals (lineage of Portocarreiros and Fonsecas). On the outside of the monastery the tower and the battlements stand out, lending it great imposingness! Inside, only the triumphal arch harks back to the Romanesque style. It should be noted that the monastery has undergone many renovations over time, losing many of its Romanesque features. Near the monastery is the tomb of the great modernist painter Amadeu de Souza-Cardoso.
MONASTERY OF SALVADOR DO FREIXO DE BAIXO
Another imposing monastery located next to a watercourse and belonging to the Romanesque Route! An exterior where a powerful bell tower and the foundations of the old cloister (interior courtyard) stand out. The monastery’s facade is in good condition and the decoration of its entrance door stands out. Inside, a painting that illustrates a “scene from the Lord’s Epiphany” stands out.
MONASTERY OF SALVADOR DE TRAVANCA
Another monastery that impresses with its grandeur! The church was erected during the 13th century. A temple that is associated with the Gascos lineage to which one of the squires of King Afonso Henriques belonged. Outside we can see 3 naves. It stands out the isolated tower that resembles a military structure. It is one of the highest of all medieval religious heritage. The exterior is (still) in a good state but the interior is left to its fate. It seems to be someone’s storage place… incomprehensible…
SANTA MARIA DE JAZENTE CHURCH
It is believed to have been built in the late 13th or early 14th century. It is another testimony to medieval architecture. It consists of a rectangular nave and chancel. The walls have chinks through which some light enters the interior. Since 1977 the church has had the status of property of public interest.
SANTA MARIA DE GONDAR CHURCH
Another church that belongs to the Romanesque Route and was built in the 13th century. It is located in the valley of the sheep river and is associated with the Gundares lineage who, as the story goes, were famous in the middle ages. The church is said to have been a monastery for women in the distant past. Inside the temple we can see a sculpture (replica) of the virgin breastfeeding her child. It was offered by the first parish priest of the church in 1470. A very important gift for the community. The original sculpture can be found in the new church of the parish.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN AMARANTE
The Aboboreira mountain range extends over the municipalities of Amarante, Marco de Canaveses and Baião. A place with a heritage of great wealth and that remains (virtually) unknown by most Portuguese. The first people to inhabit the mountain have been there for about 5 thousand years. The megalithic structures are the great attraction of the mountain, a set of structures classified as property of public interest since 1990. The biggest star of the megalithic monuments is the Anta de Chã de Parada, a funerary structure that was built in the 3rd century B.C. Every year it is visited by schools, researchers and some curious people. The mountain also offers magnificent views and landscapes to those who visit. An experience not to be missed!
AMARANTE AQUATIC PARK
A magnificent option for children and… adults! It opened its doors in 1994 and is part of a huge tourism structure with 44,000 square meters called “Tamega Clube”. Within this complex you will find not only the park but also cottages, a wave pool, an event space and even a gym. The water park boasts the award of the largest mountain water park on the Iberian Peninsula. But it’s not just its size that impresses. Its location and the magnificent views it provides are also an element of attraction.
AMARANTE GOLF COURSE
The Amarante golf course is just an 11 minute drive from the city center. It is located in Quinta da Deveza and is a golf course of unique beauty in Portugal. If you like golf and if you are going to use this course, you will probably spend more time admiring the magnificent views (to Serra do Marão and Aboboreira) than playing. The course is at an altitude of 600 meters (relative to sea level). Its 18 holes are harmoniously involved in a landscape full of lakes, viewpoints to the river Tâmega, hills and waterfalls. Beautiful!
A “GUIGA” RIDE ON THE TÂMEGA RIVER
Let’s start by clarifying what “Guiga” means. It is after all the name given to the traditional boats of Amarante. If you embark on this journey, you will see Amarante from another angle, you will get to know the city from the perspective of the Tâmega river! Along the way you will pass under the (beautiful) old bridge and you will have the opportunity to see a great number of historical monuments that overlook the river. The big attractions of the tour are the waterfalls and the old mill. If you do it on a mild, sunny day the experience will be even better!
It is on the first weekend of June that the most important festival of the city takes place. A celebration that evokes São Gonçalo, the city’s patron saint (although São Gonçalo’s day is celebrated on the 10th of January). The city streets fill up with people attending concerts, religious events, or simply socializing.
VIRTUAL TOUR TO AMARANTE
HISTORY OF AMARANTE
It is difficult to pinpoint the date when the first settlements were established here. Signs have been found of the presence of primitive people who would have lived in the mountains of Aboboreira during the stone age (the stone age ended in 2000 BC). The presence of the Romans in the region is proven by the numerous traces that have been found over time. It is believed that the first construction erected in Amarante was by order of Dom Afonso Henriques’ wife (Dona Mafalda) in the 12th century – she ordered the construction of the Hostel of Covelo de Tâmega. It is generally accepted that Albergaria was the embryo of Amarante. The town would have developed around this first population cluster. It is factual that it was with the arrival of São Gonçalo (1187-1259) that the place began to gain importance in the kingdom.
What you eat in Amarante is a consequence of the city’s geography. Located between Minho and Trás-os-Montes, its gastronomy is influenced by both. Amarante’s gastronomy is another attraction of the city. There you can eat the famous Serrano kid, different types of feijoada, veal, tripe, cozido à portuguesa (Portuguese stew) and also codfish. In Amarante the typical codfish dishes are “à Zé da calçada” and “à Custódia”. If you want to innovate, then opt for a Tâmega trout. Famous is also the chicken rice and eggs that have special relevance in regional sweets.
CONVENTUAL SWEETS OF AMARANTE
Despite the enormous destruction caused by the French invasions, the recipes for conventual sweets did not burn with the fire of the convent of Santa Clara de Amarante. Holders and keepers of this knowledge, the aristocrats of the region decided to share it with the confectioneries of the region. The foguetes, the lérias, the papos de anjo and the São Gonçalo are still the stars of the oldest confectionery of Amarante, created in 1930 and called Confeitaria da Ponte (near the bridge of São Gonçalo).
Famous are also the phallic candies, also known as “Saint Gonçalo’s balls”. Now that’s a phrase I never thought I would write in my blog! Spectacular!
RESTAURANTS IN AMARANTE
TASQUINHA DA PONTE
It is a cheap restaurant. Over 500 reviews on Google and an overall rating of 4.2 stars (out of a maximum of 5). Cozy and with a relaxed atmosphere (dogs can be inside the restaurant). A price-quality ratio that is highly praised by customers. The dishes most often cited in praise are the wild boar chanfana and the kid. I read many of the comments on Google, almost always positive (4 or 5 stars). Interestingly I also found a few very negative ones (only one star). Still, the overall rating of the restaurant is very positive (4.2/5) and the price is very reasonable.
HOTELS IN AMARANTE
HOSTEL AND SUITES DES ARTS
More than 330 online comments, an overall rating of 4.5 (out of 5 stars). The comments refer to a magnificent location next to the Tâmega river. The hotel has been recently renovated and looks cozy and clean. The breakfast is highly praised as well as the balcony with a magnificent view of the river Tâmega. Although it is a hotel (with shared rooms), it is also possible to rent double rooms (twin room).
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR AMARANTE?
To calmly see the city of Amarante, we suggest a 4-day getaway. There is a lot to know and to learn in this city! In case you have some time left or if you opt for a longer stay, know that in the surroundings of Amarante there are other magnificent places to visit! Here are 4 suggestions (Mondim de Basto, Peso da Régua, Guimarães and Castelo de Paiva) and a map to organize your tours more easily and efficiently!
47 minutes and 48 kilometers separate Amarante from the town of Castelo de Paiva, a place full of legends, diverse landscapes and traditions. Castelo de Paiva is a mixture of mountains, river, vineyards and mines. The end result is a charming village! The main attractions of Castelo de Paiva are: the island of Amores, the beach of Pedorido, the route of the crafts, the park of Gramão, the Mount of São Domingos, the angel of Portugal, the villages of Gondarém and Midões, hiking trails and the mount of São Gens. A place to visit!
From Amarante to Guimarães is a distance of 49 kilometers, a distance that can be covered in 36 minutes. The city of Guimarães almost needs no introduction. The birthplace of Portugal is a city full of history and historical attractions. Going to Guimarães is like going back to high school history classes and learning the details of the birth of our country in 1143. If you go to Guimarães don’t miss the historical center, the Castle, the Paço dos Duques de Bragança, the Sacred Hill, the street of Santa Maria, the church of Nossa Senhora do Carmo and much, much more. Guimarães is a must-see!
42 minutes and 61 kilometers separate Amarante from Peso da Régua. It is in the heart of the Alto Douro Wine Region that we find an amazing landscape that has already been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage. It is in Peso da Régua that the vineyards that originate the famous Port wine are planted. If you accept our suggestion be sure to see the chapel of the 7 corners, the main church, the thermal park of Caldas do Moledo and the various viewpoints that the region offers.
From Amarante to Mondim de Basto is 26 kilometers away, a distance that can be covered in 28 minutes by car. It is located on the border between Minho and Trás-os-Montes and has in the top of Senhora da Graça its greatest exponent. Mondim is a small place full of tourist attractions in its surroundings. The landscapes are breathtaking and the viewpoints are its greatest attractions. If you go to Mondim don’t miss the historical center, the lady of Grace, the natural park of the Alvão, the Fisgas do Ermelo, the village of Varzigueto and the bridge of Vilar de Viando.