PONTE DE LIMA TOURISM GUIDE
A lovely town in a lovely setting
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Ponte de Lima is a market town on the south bank of the Lima River facing a
magnificent Roman bridge with low arches.
Its setting, together with a laid-back atmosphere makes it one of the
loveliest small towns in Portugal.
It was founded on the site of a Celtic settlement and developed by the Romans, who believed the Lima was the Lethe, the mythical River of Oblivion (visitors who crossed it would forget everything and stay forever).
Across the river is the 15th century Saint Anthony Convent with an interesting Manueline portal, and adjacent to it stands the 18th century São Francisco Church housing a museum of sacred art.
The old streets in the center are lined with elegant buildings and are a delight to wander in, particularly on market days, every other Monday. Among the most distinguishing buildings are the 14th century Parish Church and Palacio dos Marqueses, a 15th-century fortress-palace now functioning as the Town Hall.
In the main square, Largo de Camões, is an 18th century fountain and several pleasant cafes with outside tables.
In and around Ponte de Lima are some great manor houses or solares, several of which date from the 16th century and are now guesthouses. Staying at one of them is reason enough to visit Ponte de Lima.
The town gets crowded in mid-September when there's a big festival and market in town, and in early June during the Vaca das Cordas festival (see "Curious Fact" below).
Frequent buses link Ponte de Lima with Viana do Castelo and Braga.
CURIOUS FACTThe Vaca das Cordas ("Cow of the Ropes") festival that takes place in early June is one of Iberia's many bovine-related traditions dating from pre-Christian times with origins in ancient Egyptian cults brought to the Iberian peninsula by the Phoenicians. According to Egyptian mythology, Jupiter kidnapped his beloved Io and when repelled by her mother, he turned her into a cow and commanded a bumblebee to repeatedly sting her. As a result, Io fled to Egypt where she regained her human form and married the god Osiris. The Egyptians then erected altars to Isis in her honor in the image of a cow, a symbol that became a goddess of fertility in Egypt and later in Portugal. It is believed that Ponte de Lima's parish church was built over such a temple, when the town's Christian citizens, in order to show their renunciation of idols, dragged their old bovine image around town until it broke into pieces. Since then, a live bull has been used. In the annual festival, a bull tied by the horns is lead three times around the church as it's jabbed with goads in reference to the mythical bee. Following this, mimicking Io's flight to Egypt, the animal charges through the town's streets before ending up at the beach. On the following day, there is a serene Christian procession, when the streets are covered with flowers.
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da Barca - A lovely setting; a Roman bridge
Gerês National Park - Early human vestiges within a magnificent national park
Viana Do Castelo - Elegant architecture; folklore
Braga - The city of Baroque; the Portuguese Episcopal capital; a monumental staircase
Guimarães - A medieval World Heritage center; a fascinating Celtic archeological site
Barcelos - One of Europe's largest markets; birthplace of a national symbol
AND TAGUS VALLEY
Castelo de Vide
Vila Real de Santo António
BEIRAS (CENTRAL PORTUGAL)
Figueira da Foz
Serra da Estrela
PORTO AND DOURO
Gerês National Park
Ponte de Lima
Ponte da Barca
Viana do Castelo