4 Reasons why you should visit Chaves, one of the oldest cities in Portugal

I have the pleasure to introduce to you Joana, a reader of the blog that visited the beautiful city of Chaves. She loved this city and wanted to share with all of us the four reasons why we should visit this city in the north of Portugal, a city full of beauty and history:

Located in northern Portugal, next to the shores of Tâmega river and only a few quilometres away from Spain, Chaves is a city that has both a natural beauty and an incomparable historical and cultural legacy.

If you plan a visit to Chaves, know that there are some places you can’t miss: the donjon of the medieval castle, the perimeter of the wall, the forts of São Francisco and São Neutel, the Trajano Roman Bridge, the Matriz and Misericórdia churches, the typical floral balconies, the ducal palace and the Roman baths (Aquae Flaviae),  a reminder of the important thermal past of this city.

If you’re not still convinced, prepare yourself to taste some of the well-known gastronomical delicacies of Chaves, such as game meat, ham and smoked sausages of pig meat, essential elements for the typical folar (traditional Portuguese bread) and pastéis de Chaves.

Come with me on this journey to the past with a privileged view over the most enchanted valley in Portugal – Chaves!

4 Reasons why you should visit Chaves

1. Thermal Route – Chaves and Vidago

Vidago Palace Hotel
© chaves.blogs.sapo.pt

Thanks to the geological characteristics of this region, Chaves is an important place for thermal tourism in Europe. Due to the high concentration of thermal and mineromedicinal springs, this city is considered a quintessentially Thermal Tourist Destination, focused on health and well-being.

On the banks of Tâmega, in the historic centre, the thermal building rises next to the pump room and the Fonte do Povo (literally the People’s Spring), where you can drink the medicinal water.

Just 16 km away from Chaves, you can visit the village of Vidago, also known for its thermal resorts and a reference in the European thermal route.

This place is characterized by the tranquillity of a village surrounded by natural beauty as well as the majestic presence of the Vidago Palace Hotel, a reference in Portugal and in Europe.

With 40 hectares of Natural Park, the hotel has a luxurious area where guests can walk along the route with thermal springs and can enjoy all the benefits of this natural drink.

Vidago Palace Hotel
© vidagopalace.com

The peacefulness of this place inspires romance, mirrored in every lake, every sycamore that watches over us in a mixture of quietness and beauty.

For your sake, visit Chaves!

  • Opening hours: from June to September: from Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 15:00 to 19:00; on weekends, from 08:00 to 19:00.
  • Location: Parque de Vidago, Apartado 16, 5425-307 Vidago
  • GPS: 41°37’53.9″N 7°34’24.0″W

2. Cultural and historical heritage

Torre de Menagem - Chaves Portugal
© Paulo Martins

When we enter the city, we are immediately welcomed by what remains from the castle of Chaves, the donjon, that clearly shows the adversities endured during the Christian reconquest and the power plays between Portugal and Spain.

Surrounding the donjon is a beautiful garden limited by what’s left of the castle’s walls, where you can admire some artillery pieces, like an invitation to go to the Military Museum located right inside this tower.

Constituted by four floors that let our imagination wonder, here you’ll find an exhibition of weapons, military uniforms, flags and trophies, some dating back to the Middle Ages.

On the roof, it is impossible not to be amazed with the spectacular view over the city, like it was a painting, enclosed by the imposing bastions of the tower.

For just 1€ per person you can visit this place and live this experience. Retired people, children up to 18 years old and students only pay 0,50€.

Important information: this monument is not accessible for people with limited mobility nor baby carriages.

  • Opening hours: Everyday from 09:00 to 13:30 and from 14:00 to 17:30. Closed on public holidays.
  • Location: Largo de Camões, 5400-150 – Chaves.
  • GPS: 41°44’22.9″N 7°28’20.4″W

We can easily find other symbols of military defense in Chaves, such as the Fort of São Francisco and the Fort of São Neutel. Both display a shaped-star military architecture and we built during the Portuguese Restoration War.

The Fort of São Francisco is now a luxurious hotel. A symbol of this city, this monument is in great conditions despite the history of several strikes from the Spanish army. Because of this, the Portuguese government had to build a new fort, next to this one, the Fort of São Neutel, with the purpose of adding defense and ensuring more safety to the people of this region.

Fort of São Francisco

  • Free entry to the exterior of the hotel
  • Location: Alto da Pedisqueira, 5400-435 Chaves
  • GPS: 41°44’32.6″N 7°28’08.2″W

Fort of São Neutel

  • Free entry
  • Location Avenida dos Hérois de Chaves, 5400-130 Chaves
  • GPS: 41°44’58.9″N 7°28’08.5″W

The Trajano Bridge is presently just a pedestrian bridge. Displaying 12 granite arches, this is one of the most important structures left by the Romans, because of its beauty but also because it has lingered in time despite of the most adverse weather conditions.

  • Public access and free entry
  • Morada: Acesso junto à Rua Direita, 5400-245 Chaves
  • GPS: 41°44’17.6″N 7°28’01.3″W

3. Gastronomy

Another reason why you should visit Chaves is the gastronomy of this region. It is impossible to resist to the different sausages, the smoked meat, the pork meat from this region and that play an important role when baking the tasty folar and the famous pastel de Chaves.

Pastel de Chaves Portugal
© DChaves

I wanted to try these delicacies and so, on my way to the donjon, right in the historic centre, I went to D’Chaves, famous for being the first recognized store to sell certified Pastéis de Chaves.

Here, the most difficult is to continue walking. At the door, you immediately smell the wonderful smoked sausages and see the jams, biscuits and bôlas (bread with meat) – all this appeals to your senses and truth be told, tasting the folar and the texture of all the different meats mixed with dough, almost sweet, is beyond the limits of imagination!

D’Chaves – Fumeiro e Pastéis

  • Opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00; Saturday, from 09:00 to 13:00
  • Location: Largo 8 de Julho, 14, 5400 Chaves
  • GPS: 41°44’27.0″N 7°28’21.0″W

4. Landscape

Poldras no Tâmega - Chaves Portugal
© olhares.sapo.pt

Located in a valley, Chaves takes advantage of an amazing landscape, with mountains everywhere. On the riverfront, the backbone of the city, you can enjoy the Tabolado Garden, a peaceful place with many trees along the way used as a place to relax and hide from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Chaves - Vista do Jardim do Tabolado
© Paulo Martins

At this park you can read a book, go for a walk or even enjoy the sun. The steppingstones that cross the river, once the only way to go from one side to the other, are now a temptation for the more adventurous visitors that want to defy Tâmega.

  • Location: Alameda do Tabolado, 5400-523 Chaves
  • GPS: 41°44’14.2″N 7°28’13.6″W

Whenever I think of this I imagine myself in this city, in the Middle Ages, questioning how would it be to live back then, in certain conditions, oblivious to what would come to be. A magnificent time travel, an introspective moment that you certainly will have too.

Every stone in the streets of this city tells a story. Join us and be part of the history of Chaves!

Where to sleep?

To enjoy this wonderful weekend, we’ve chosen Boticas Hotel Art & SPA to stay. Here, Françoise Machado gave us a warm welcome and showed us the hotel and Nadir Afonso Arts Centre.

In fact, it is next to the arts centre that you’ll find this magnificent four-star hotel strongly marked with the painter’s work.

Because of this, you won’t be admired by the fact that, in the hotel, you’ll notice his presence everywhere you go: the hallways, leisure areas and bedrooms decorated with paintings and even the hotel employees wore personalized handkerchiefs and silk scarves.

Overlooking the town of Boticas, the hotel offers to its guests all they need to enjoy some amazing and relaxing days.

The rooms are very welcoming and are equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, mini-bar, a beautiful bathroom and large and comfortable beds.

At the synthetic-grass terrace you’ll find an amazing pool where you can go for a swim and, at the same time, admire the beautiful landscape of this region. Apart from that, you can also sunbathe and ask for a refreshing drink at the bar located on site.

The hotel has at your disposal a multifaceted SPA and wellness centre where we can point out the interior pool, the sauna, the Turkish bath, the jacuzzi and the fitness centre where you can burn all the calories from previous meals.

To have a pleasant meal, you don’t have to leave the hotel – enjoy a meal in the Restaurante Abstrato. Apart from the attractive prices, you’ll have the opportunity to taste some of the typical food from this part of Portugal. From appetizers to dessert and main course, the food is great – you should definitely go to this restaurant!

To conclude, I must say that our stay at Boticas Hotel Art & SPA was great and I must also point out the professionalism and readiness of all the staff – from front desk to the restaurant, they were amazing at what they did.

Do you want to spend some quiet and relaxing days and discover Chaves, Vidago and Boticas?

 

Important information: I want to be clear and say that I wasn’t paid to promote this hotel. I have decided to promote it because I had a great time and a warm welcome; furthermore, the hotel has a great location!

Are you going to visit Chaves, Vidago and Boticas? Then don’t hesitate to book a car by clicking the link below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!

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About Tiago

Tiago, 29 years old, Parisian since 12, I decided to go on an adventure and make my dream come true: get to know our country from one end to the other. I believe that if we don’t know our origins we don’t truly know ourselves. Read more here