VILA REAL TOURISM GUIDE
A delightful baroque palace
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The reason to visit Vila Real, the capital of the province of Trás-os-Montes
and birthplace of Diogo Cão (the explorer who discovered the Congo River in
1482), is for the Baroque Mateus Palace, 4km (2.5 miles) east of the town. Described by Sacheverell Sitwell as "the
most fantastic country house in Portugal", it has been made famous worldwide
for being featured on the label of Mateus Rosé wine and it is well worth a
visit for a glimpse into the lives of the Portuguese aristocracy.
Built in 1745, it is considered a perfect example of baroque architecture, with an impressive façade made up of beautiful pinnacles on the roof and an ornate balustraded stairway, all reflecting on a pond in front of it.
Behind it is a delightful garden, among the most beautiful in Europe, with box hedges, statues, and a spectacular cedar tunnel about 35m (115ft) long.
There are guided tours of the palace's interior, beginning at the entrance hall, with its carved chestnut ceiling and 18th-century furniture, leading into the Four Seasons Room which takes its name from its large 18th century paintings, and the Blue Room that features Chinese porcelain. The neighboring Dining Room contains stunning Portuguese china and silver, and the Four Corners Room has Indo-Portuguese furniture.
The town itself has a few buildings of interest, including an Italian
Renaissance building on the town's main street, Avenida Carvalho Araujo,
that is where Diogo Cão was born.
Nearby is the 19th century Town Hall building, with a lantern pillory in front.
The town's cathedral, once part of a 15th century Dominican monastery, has a simple 15th century exterior, while farther north is the town's finest church, the Baroque São Pedro Church, with a ceiling of carved and gilded wood and a chancel adorned with colorful tiles. Also worth a look is the beautiful baroque chapel Capela Nova (also known as "Clérigos"), attributed to Nicolau Nazoni who also worked on Mateus Palace.
A stop at the tourism office is worth it if only to take a look at its Manueline windows.
It is possible to visit Vila Real and the palace on a daytrip from Amarante or Lamego, or on the way to or from Bragança.
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- Baroque sanctuary; vineyards by the Douro
Amarante - Handsome town by the river; a 16th century convent
Bragança - An old castle; mysterious stones; one of Europe's wildest regions
Chaves - A 2-millenium old Roman bridge
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