Peneda-Gerês: 70 thousand hectares of pure nature
From the Castro Laboreiro Plateau to the Mourela Plateau, there are approximately 70 thousand hectares of verdant nature, idyllic landscapes, breathtaking waterfalls and pure air, spread over 5 municipalities with a rich and living history that we want to show you.
Peneda-gerês National Park
In the extreme northwest of Portugal, between Alto Minho and Trás-os-Montes, the land between the Serra da Peneda and the Serra do Gerês is the only Portuguese protected area classified as a National Park. Created in 1971, it is spread over 5 municipalities – Melgaço, Arcos de Valdevez, Ponte da Barca, Terras de Bouro and Montalegre – and is part of the National Network of Protected Areas.
The municipalities of the Peneda-Gerês National Park together with those of the Lower Limia-Serra do Xurés Natural Park, make up the Gerês-Xurês Biosphere Reserve (classified by UNESCO in 2009). The Biosphere Reserve is responsible for protecting the continuous fauna and flora between the two countries and for promoting the economic development and tourism of the regions.
There are 5 gates located at the main entrances to the park, one in each of the municipalities that make up this protected area and they are centres for the promotion of knowledge and dissemination of the natural and cultural values of the National Park territory.
To the nature lovers
Between the two plateaus lie four mountain ranges: Peneda, Soajo, Amarela and Gerês, which we know as well as the palm of our hands.
These mountains, predominantly granite, cut the landscape with their steep peaks and deep valleys, where an extensive hydrographic network is designed that allows the existence of various forms of life.
In this lively and fertile mountainous area, there are various habitats such as oak woods, pine forests, woods and peat bogs where 117 species endemic to the Iberian Peninsula are recorded. It is also home to a vast fauna, with 204 protected species, including the majestic Iberian wolf, the golden eagle, the mink, the water lizard and the horned viper.
But if you’re on the lookout, you’ll easily come across garrano horses as well as cows and even Castro Laboreiro dogs, and if you’re lucky you may even spot the roe deer, the symbol of the Peneda-Gerês National Park.
Would you like to visit, discover or explore the only protected area in Portugal classified as a National Park?
A journey through an immeasurable heritage
Go2Nature takes you to experience genuine history and culture, surrounded by the purest nature.
The National Park of Peneda-Gerês has a rich historical and cultural heritage that is well preserved. From the fascinating megalithic necropolises to the remains of the Romanization. From ancient castles to traditional granaries, the ovens of bygone daysthe water mills, the levadas, the terraces and villages, to peculiar traditions, to the soft and inverneiras, framed by the most beautiful mountain landscapes.
It is a world apart, where human activity integrates harmoniously with nature, preserving very ancient values and traditions.
Visit with go2nature
The 5 municipalities of the Peneda-Gerês National Park
2. ARCOS DE VALDEVEZ
Located in the Vez Valley, Arcos de Valdevez is a municipality full of green landscapes, crystalline waters and traditional architecture. With a river that gives it its name and that crosses the village full of history.
In Arcos de Valdevez you will find centuries-old manor houses, the famous granaries of Soajo, medieval towers and bridges and Christian temples from various eras where various pilgrimages are organised. It is in Arcos de Valdevez that Sistelo is located, an ancient medieval village that still keeps all the ancient rural beauty. Known as “the little Portuguese Tibet” thanks to its fabulous terraces, it is one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal in the category of Rural Villages.
3. PONTE DA BARCA
In the heart of Alto Minho, we find Ponte da Braca, a municipality that owes its name to the “Barca” that used to link the two banks of the Lima River. The “bridge” that replaced the “ferry” was built later, in the middle of the 14th century.
In Ponte da Barca you can visit the Alto Lindoso dam, one of the largest in the Iberian Peninsula. You can also visit an old castle rebuilt by D. Dinis and countless crosses and shrines that reveal traditions from other times. Ponte da Barca is home to the famous granaries of Lindoso, covered with granite slabs, and the Ermida, a typical mountain village where the population practices subsistence farming. The rivers, streams, reservoirs, river beaches, waterfalls and green landscape of the Serra Amarela complete the scenario.
4. TERRAS DE BOURO
Terras de Bouro is located by the River Homem and has landscapes of great beauty, from the Caniçada and Vilarinho das Furnas reservoirs to the Sanctuaries of São Bento da Porta Aberta and Senhora da Abadia, centres of great pilgrimages, framed by a green landscape.
The predominance of waterfalls, lakes and streams gives an incomparable beauty to the mountain landscape. The majestic Mata da Albergaria is considered the “heart of the PNPG” and was distinguished as one of Europe’s Biogenetic Reserves.
Montalegre belongs to the Trás-os-Montes region and is a border territory offering breathtaking landscapes. Since it holds most of the territory of the National Park Peneda-Gerês, nature predominates and retains all its charm.
Montalegre is also known for the famous Fumeiro Fair and the big Thirteenth Friday celebration, but that’s not all! Visit castles, bridges and monasteries and be welcomed by a genuine and friendly population. It is in Montalegre that we find the typical village of Pitões das Júnias, the ruins of the small and mystical Monastery of Santa Maria das Júnias and also the Mizarela Bridge, a sumptuous medieval construction that stands in the narrow gorge of the Rabagão River.