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Vinho de Cheiro – a fragrant wine from the Azores

Foz Côa, and the cave paintings that endured millennia



A decade ago, the wild, mountain area of northeastern Portugal along the valley of the river Côa was destined to be transformed into a lake, as the result of a damn to bring power and irrigation to a remote region. Then, a team of archeologists uncovered a vast amount of prehistoric cave paintings. The Portuguese government made a difficult and expensive decision. The dam was scrapped, and in its place, a heritage park created.  In 1998 UNESCO classified the site as World Heritage.


The drawings show of mountain goats, horses, aurochs (wild hulls) and deer. The first three of these species are the most common and characteristic of the earliest phases of artistic production. They all correspond to the large herbivores that were typical of the ecosystems of the Upper Paleolithic Age in the region.


There are also some rare engravings of fish and just one single instance of a human form, the latter occurring at the end the Upper Paleolithic Age. The signs were engraved under the form of straight lines or in zigzags, with the rocks being pecked or scratched with instruments made of quartzite or flint.


Right in the very heart of the archaeological park, the Quinta da Ervamoira is a museum that gives a full description of the region and its customs. There is also the ancient bread making cycle and the traditional features of Douro wine production, yet another of this region's most undeniable riches.


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