What's in a name?
For an ancient nation, Portugal has its share of places with interesting names, which are often corruptions of ancient Roman or pre-Roman names. In some cases, the exact origin is lost. In northeastern Portugal, on the Douro River facing Spain, stands the 14th century town of Freixo de Espada a Cinta. This name could mean, "An ash tree with a sword at its belt." It might be named after an ancient warrior, Freixo. Some say the name is Visigoth in origin, based on the word Espadacinta. Most likely, it is named for King Dinis, as a warning that the town was well defended. In the Centro Region of Portugal, five towns within a few dozen miles of each other seem to have a kind of competition over their medieval castles. In the mountains near the Spanish border we can find Castelo Mendo (Mendo’s Castle), Castelo Branco (White Castle), Castelo Novo (New Castle), Castelo Bom (Good Castle) and Castelo Melhor (Better Castle).