Miranda do Douro is a small town of great traditions! It is on the other side of the mountains, suspended on a plateau, on the edge of the imposing rocky cliffs of the Douro River valley.
MIRANDA DO DOURO
Over time, Miranda took care of itself, producing what it needed and keeping what was its own. History and geography have carved a place with a very strong character. Besides Portuguese, mirandês is also spoken here, the only language in Portugal with the status of an official language, besides the Portuguese language. Pauliteiros de Miranda is perhaps the most outstanding expression of Miranda do Douro’s culture and tradition. It is a folkloric dance group, traditionally male. The group dresses strictly with frilly skirts, linen shirts, vests, shawls and black-brimmed hats decorated with flowers, ribbons and feathers.
Three musicians accompany the dancers, each with his own instrument: the bass drum, the snare drum and the bagpipes (Celtic heritage). The men, armed with a stick in each hand, begin the warlike, ritual and rhythmic dance in a dizzying frenzy, banging their sticks against each other, jumping and whirling. It is truly an impressive spectacle, not to be missed!
WHERE IS MIRANDA DO DOURO?
It is there in the little corner of Portugal, at the tip of Trás-os-Montes, high up on a wall on the banks of the Douro River, overlooking Spain on the other bank.
Traveling to Miranda do Douro requires a little patience. You have to cross mountains and there is no highway that gets you there. If you leave from Lisbon by car, you can expect to drive for about 5 hours for a distance of 507 km. If you come from the city of Porto, it takes almost 3 hours for a journey of approximately 260 km.
WHAT TO VISIT AND DO IN MIRANDA DO DOURO?
There is a lot to see, know and enjoy in Miranda do Douro. The list is long, so we have prepared a map for you, so that you can efficiently plan the sequence of your visits. We hope you find it useful! (to see more in detail, click on the upper right corner of the map. Then click on the map to zoom in).
HISTORICAL CENTER OF MIRANDA DO DOURO
The historic center of Miranda do Douro is not very big and the best way to get to know it is through a walking tour. Inevitably, you arrive at the only square in town, Largo D. João III. Here you will find the city’s main buildings: the Town Hall, the Solar dos Ordazes – an imposing Abruzzo house – and the Terra de Miranda Museum. This museum mirrors the history, life and traditions of this region through archaeological, ethnographic and anthropological collections.
DOM JOÃO III SQUARE (largo) – MIRANDA DO DOURO
It is the most central point on earth. In the center of Largo D. João III is a pewter sculpture set. They represent a working couple wearing the Capa de Honras Mirandesa. As the name suggests, the Capa de Honras Mirandesa is a traditional ceremonial garment of Miranda do Douro. It is a garment made of burel (a coarse woolen cloth). It may have had its origin in the Benedictine monks who once had great influence in the region. Even today, this cape is worn on important occasions by prominent people, such as the Mayor.
MOUZINHO DA SILVEIRA STREET
This is a picturesque street, the main one in the historic center of Miranda do Douro. It is here that most of the commerce is concentrated. Also on this street is the Casa da Cultura Mirandesa.
MIRANDA DO DOURO CONCATEDRAL
Very close to this square is the former Miranda do Douro Cathedral, currently the Concatedral, because the Cathedral is now in Bragança. It is an imposing building from the early seventeenth century and has been a National Monument since 1910. Both its architecture and its interior, full of beautiful altarpieces, are admirable, but the most original icon, of a very unique popular devotion, is the small statue of the Infant Jesus of Cartolinha.
MIRANDA DO DOURO CASTLE RUINS
At one time, the castle of Miranda do Douro was the most important fort on the borders of the region. Throughout history, in two different reigns, it was subject to rebuilding. In 1762 it literally blew up in a huge explosion when, during a battle against the Spanish, the gunpowder storage was hit. The walls, tower and 400 people fell to the ground. These ruins remained to tell the story.
MEDIEVAL WALLS OF MIRANDA DO DOURO
On the roundabout path of the medieval walls (i.e., on the castle watchtrack), you will find what is left of an old Gothic castle fence from the 10th and 11th centuries. Despite everything, it is the best preserved in the region. This place, besides transporting us to the past, also offers us a magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding area.
NATURAL PARK RIO FRESNO
A 4-kilometer route around the castle that we invite you to walk after a hearty meal. An urban walk in Miranda do Douro in shades of green and that will show you the Bridge and the Fountain of Canos and also the old water mills.
EPISCOPAL PALACE RUINS
These ruins are behind the ancient Miranda do Douro Cathedral. The walk through these ancient arcades, very well preserved, gives us a glimpse of glorious times.
CHURCH OF THE OLD CONVENT OF THE FRIARS TRINIANS
This church dates from the 18th century and belonged to the convent of the Order of the Holy Trinity. It was commissioned by the barefoot friars. Whoever passes in front of this building today, sees only the beautiful facade of the church. Paying attention, one notices that it is marked, next to the main door, the Municipal Library, which has been operating here since 1999.
MIRANDESA CULTURE HOUSE
The Casa da Cultura Mirandesa occupies the space of the former Casa da Alfândega. This is a place dedicated essentially to the exploration of various aspects of regional culture such as language, ethnography, music or any other aspect related to the culture of Miranda do Douro.
DOURO INTERNATIONAL NATURAL PARK
In this part of the country, separating Portugal and Spain, we find the Douro River “squeezed” between imposing cliffs. The Natural Park of the International Douro is a huge region with 86 thousand hectares. We are talking about a park of great importance in the conservation of some endangered birds. Birds such as the Egyptian vulture and the Bonelli’s eagle nest in the rock formations of the natural park. Very few people live in this region. Those who remain live off agriculture and livestock. Beyond the Douro, the park extends into Spanish territory. Across the border it is called Arribes del Duero Natural Park.
BOAT TOUR – MIRANDA INTERNATIONAL BIOLOGICAL STATION
It is in the Miranda international biological station that you can set off on a journey of great beauty and that will transport you to the soul of the region. Embark on a tour that goes through the natural park of the international douro and that goes to the international biological station of the Douro. A journey through the canyon of the Douro and that will take you to the most beautiful route of the border that separates Portugal from Spain. An opportunity to see places only accessible by boat and to admire the cliffs from below (contrasting with the view we get from the viewpoints). The trip takes approximately one hour. During the trip, the guide will explain everything about the flora and fauna of the region. At the end of the tour, there is still time for a Port wine tasting (the ticket includes this extra).
From the boat we are overwhelmed by the grandeur of the grandiose escarpments on the banks of the Douro. We can also glimpse rare or endangered animals, such as the golden eagle or the Egyptian vulture. The boats leave daily from the pier, about 1 km from Miranda do Douro, at the International Biological Station. A magnificent experience!
VISIT THE CENTER FOR THE VALORIZATION OF THE DONKEY OF MIRANDA
Miranda do Douro is a land so special that it even has its own donkey! The Mirandês donkey is brown, has large, furry ears and is a very gentle animal. This is a native species of the Miranda Douro plains and is endangered. The Centro de Valorização do Burro de Miranda was created with the aim of preserving this donkey breed. It is worth visiting the center, which allows us to get very close to these animals, which love to be petted. Besides the visits, it is also possible to schedule a walk with the donkeys, accompanied by specialized monitors. On these walks, children up to the age of 12 will have the chance to ride a donkey part of the way.
VILLAGES NEAR MIRANDA DO DOURO
In the village of Picote (or Picoute!) the Mirandese language is king! The village is 17 kilometers (20 minutes by car) away from Miranda do Douro and is located in the heart of the International Douro Natural Park.
Picote is an ancient village that dates back to Roman times. At the time it was the capital of a region then called “Terra de Miranda”. Picote has resisted and resists. It has resisted the desertification of the interior and has resisted the passage of time. A resistance that is due to the fiber of its people who insist on keeping Picote on the map and who insist on preserving the cultural heritage of the village. A place to visit on foot and wander through its streets. Talk to the locals, ask questions and get into the soul of its people. Here is the formula for visiting one of the most hidden and unique villages in Portugal.>
VIEWPOINTS IN MIRANDA DO DOURO
To help you find the viewpoints we have prepared a map for you!
PENHA DAS TORRES VIEWPOINT
It is in the village of Paradela that we find one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the region, the viewpoint of Penha das Torres. To get there follow the indicative signs that you will find in the village. The next step is to follow the dirt road until you approach the cliffs of the Douro. On your left hand side you will find a giant chestnut tree (the largest in the Park)!
The viewpoint is at the easternmost point of the country, the place where the sun rises earliest. The view is phenomenal and from there you will have the opportunity to spot the precise point where the Douro River enters Portugal. If you are lucky you will also see vultures and griffon vultures (a bird that in Greek mythology was half eagle and half lion).
SÃO JOÃO DAS ARRIBAS VIEWPOINT
It is near Aldeia Nova, on one of the cliffs of the Natural Park, very close to an old settlement (a castro) from the Iron Age. It is a place of particular beauty that provides a breathtaking view of the Douro river walled between gigantic rocky walls.
To get here you have to take an unpaved road from Miranda do Douro (the path can be done on foot or by bicycle without major difficulty). The Castrilhouço viewpoint is probably the least famous of all the viewpoints in the area, but it is surely the most beautiful of them all. An opportunity to see the Douro winding between huge cliffs and curving to continue its journey towards the ocean.
It is 1 kilometer from the village of Freixiosa (the village is 11 kilometers from Miranda do Douro). The route is again on a dirt road but this time with a very considerable slope. To avoid mishaps, the best thing to do is to park before the slope and follow Armando’s cart (a little on foot and a little walked). The viewpoint is totally wild and is on top of a granite boulder. To climb to the top you have the aid of an iron railing. If you resist the vertigo you will be rewarded by a breathtaking view!
FRAGA DE PUIO VIEWPOINT
The most famous viewpoint in the region and the one that always wins the photogenic award! For this, much contributes the glass pontoon suspended over the Douro! A recently built platform that allows you to go further and admire the Douro in all its splendor! Magnificent!
HISTORY OF MIRANDA DO DOURO
The occupation of Miranda do Douro comes from very ancient times. Before Portugal existed, this was a region of Celts, Romans, Visigoths and even Arabs. The latter called this land Mir Andur, which over time gave rise to the word Miranda. In the 12th century, Miranda do Douro already had a castle. But at this time, a walled fence was ordered to be built around the town on the orders of D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal. The king recognized here as a strategic point for the defense of his territory. On the other bank of the river the kingdom of Leon, now Spain, was already lurking.
In the 13th century, the place of Miranda do Douro was elevated to town. Later, in the 14th century, the town and seat of the bishopric of Trás-os-Montes. In the 18th century, the bishop’s residence became Bragança. Probably because the city of Miranda was heavily battered in the frequent clashes with the Spanish, the neighbors on the other bank of the Douro.
Legend has it that when Miranda do Douro was surrounded by the Castilians and was about to be defeated, a boy dressed as a noble knight appeared and led the people to victory. After the battle, the mysterious boy disappeared and the people, believing in divine help, created the devotion of Jesus the Knight, protector of the people of Miranda. The devotion gave rise to a statue of this Jesus, noble knight-boy, which dates back to the 18th century. This image can be found in the old Cathedral of Miranda and is one of the symbols of this land.
Devotees began to offer clothes to wear the statuette that today is known as the Little Jesus of the Top Hat (menino Jesus da Cartolinha). The top hat is one of the most worn items in his closet. The “Little Jesus of the Little Card” changes clothes frequently, depending on the occasion. On the day of the Kings, he is carried in procession by the boys of Miranda.
In recent years Miranda do Douro has been losing prominence. But it has not lost its value, stored in the historical monuments, culture and traditions. But also in the cliffs, in the trees and in the waters of the rivers.
WHAT TO SEE NEAR MIRANDA DO DOURO?
Miranda do Douro has many natural and patrimonial attractions that deserve a close visit. But if you have some time left, we suggest you also visit the towns of Mogadouro and Vimioso which are located a short distance from Miranda do Douro.
From Miranda do Douro to Vimioso village is a distance of 29 kilometers (a distance that can be covered in 29 minutes). Vimioso is on a plateau between the rivers Angueira and Maçãs. The surrounding region is characterized by steep cliffs and plains where almond trees, olive trees, vines and cork oaks are cultivated. The São Lourenço fair is the major annual event and is held on August 10. If you accept our suggestion be sure to visit the main church, the chapel of Atalaia, the chapel of Our Lady of Pains, the pillory, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Visitation, the castle of Algoso, the main church of Algoso and the Iberian Park of Nature and Adventure (PINTA).
34 minutes and 46 kilometers separate Miranda do Douro from the town of Mogadouro. We are talking about a very old land that even precedes the creation of the Portucalense county. Visiting Mogadouro is a visit to the past because there you can find several vestiges of people who inhabited this region more than 6 thousand years ago. If you accept our suggestion and visit Mogadouro, be sure to visit the castle, the Order of the Templars, the Castle of Penas Roias, the convent of São Francisco and the Sabor Valley (a natural heritage). February and March are the perfect months to visit Mogadouro because it is in this period that the almond trees in flower bloom.
EVENTS IN MIRANDA DO DOURO
There are events throughout the year that, besides being excellent entertainment, help to better understand the culture of Miranda do Douro. The Winter Festivities last from Christmas to Carnival, with some more prominent moments, such as the Boy’s Festival, the Feast of the Kings and the Chocalheiro shrovetide. In June, there is the Ronda das Adegas, in the parish of Atenor. L Burro I L Gueiteiro is a traditional culture festival that takes place in July in the villages of Miranda, extolling the Mirandês donkey and bagpipe player. In Sendim, a village in the council, the Interceltic Festival takes place in August.
MIRANDESES FLAVORS FESTIVAL
An annual festival that usually takes place during the month of February in the Jardim de Frades Trinos (in the center of Miranda do Douro). It is an event that promotes a variety of local products such as: handicrafts, sweets and local meat. An event that leaves your mouth watering.
GASTRONOMY IN MIRANDA DO DOURO
The queen of Miranda do Douro’s gastronomy is Posta Mirandesa, a succulent piece of veal, served with potatoes. It is a simple dish, with no tricks, but that pleases the palate for the excellence of the raw material. The sausages are also famous, so be sure to try the ham, the alheira sausage, or the salpicão. The more gluttonous can take the opportunity to try the Bola Doce Mirandesa, traditionally made at Easter, based on flour, sugar, eggs and cinnamon.
RESTAURANTS IN MIRANDA DO DOURO
2-digit restaurant (out of a maximum of 3). It has over 1000 comments on Google and an overall rating of 4.2 stars (out of a maximum of 5). The praise focuses on the quality of the posta mirandesa, the codfish and the friendliness of the staff. It has a good price/quality ratio. We suggest you ask for a jug of local wine to go with it.
HOTELS IN MIRANDA DO DOURO
There are several proposals for accommodation in Miranda do Douro and also in its surroundings. But our suggestion falls on a cheap option that curiously is the one with the best Google quote.
HOTEL RESTAURANT O MIRANDÊS
This is the same establishment as the restaurant we mentioned earlier. The hotel has over 600 reviews on google and an overall rating of 4.3 stars. The rooms are simple but clean. A great option for those who are sightseeing during the day and just want a suitable place to sleep.