The view from the front of
the hotel Pousada de Viana do Castelo is one of the most famous
The National Geographic magazine
wrote 'Santa Luzia is blessed with one of the world's finest panoramas,
perhaps bettered only by those of Funchal and Rio de Janeiro, both in Portuguese
The Pousada of Viana do Castelo is on a hilltop
above the old sailing port of Viana do Castelo in Costa Verde. The views are over the port and the river estuary and
the long sweep of the sandy beaches of Cabedelo. In the foreground is the
dome of the temple of Santa Luzia.
This hill has been inhabited
from about 2000 BC and behind the hotel you will find the old village of
Celtic round houses. This 'Castro' civilization of Celtic hunter / gatherers
flourished until the Romans conquered Portugal and forced the people into
the valleys to become farmers to provide food for the Roman legions. The
last inhabitants of this old 'Citania' left in about 500 AD.
The huge tapestry hanging
on the wall of the very attractive bar and lounge area commemorates the
Romans crossing the River Lima when they invaded over 2000 years ago.
On arriving at the River
Lima, a few kilometres above the town, the legionnaires thought it was
the River Lethe, the legendary river of forgetfulness. They believed that
anyone who crossed it would lose their memory so they would not cross the
river. The leader then crossed on his horseback and called each man by
name to prove that he had not lost his memory.
The young and fit who take
the opportunity to climb to the observation platform above the temple using
the interesting staircase will be rewarded with a magnificent view, although
it can be a little windy.
The entrance is on the side
facing up-river marked 'Zimborio'. Once inside, pay a few euros to the
keeper of the temple before climbing the stairs. For the less agile there
is a lift to a lower area from the sea side of the building.
Although there has been a
chapel since the middle ages the temple itself is only 100 years old. So
many local weddings and baptisms are held at the church that the flower
display is a permanent feature and is worth stopping to see.
In 1903 one of the citizens
of Viana do Castelo, Domingos Jose de Morais, who had made his fortune
in Brazil, ordered the construction of the hotel which he gave to the city.
The hotel was opened in 1918 and came under the management of the Pousada
group in 1979. It has recently been completely modernized and upgraded
to become one of the best of the charming Pousadas.
The restaurant is at the
front of the building and when the weather is suitable the picture windows
are opened and meals are served on the terrace. The restaurant menu includes
both regional and international cuisine.
The Viana do Castelo Pousada is beautifully
furnished throughtout and has 44 standard rooms - some with sea view,
20 of which have a balcony, 3 executive rooms and 3 suites. Some rooms are
All bedrooms have private
bathroom, air conditioning, telephone, Cable television, mini-bar, hair dryer and 9 rooms have Wireless internet
Facilities at the Pousada
include free wireless internet access in the public areas, lift, air conditioning, restaurant, bar, terrace, swimming pool,
tennis court, snooker, non-smoking room, safe, facilities for disabled persons
and 2 garages.
This Pousada also offers
excellent conference facilities.
An interesting drive is along
the forestry road leaving the back of the hotel and running along the top
of the mountain for about 20 kilometres through undisturbed woodland and
pastures where wild horses roam.
Activities in the area include
river fishing, bicycle tours, golf, country walks, four-wheel driving,
cruises, water sports and canoeing.
The city of Porto
is approximately a 30 minute drive and a visit to the Port Wine Lodges
is an interesting day out. Also, Braga and Guimaraes which has
been classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Portugal's only National Park Peneda Geres is a must for country lovers.
The walled town of Valenca
on the Portuguese / Spanish border, only a 30 minute drive, is well worth
Other trips to Spain include
the city and port of Vigo, the lovely town of Bayona (Baiona) and the famous
pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
For golfers you have the
Ponte de Lima golf course which has been described as 'championship
golf at municipal prices'. Other courses in the area can be seen
at Northern Golf Courses.
The international airport
at Porto (Oporto) is approximately 77 kilometers from this Pousada of Portugal.