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Terras de Bouro, neighbouring Rio Calda

Terras de Bouro, neighbouring Rio Calda

Terras de Bouro, municipality of Rio Calda

When the weather challenges us radiantly we jump in the car to get to know the immediate surroundings of Barreiros better. There is so much to see here! Our bed and breakfast guests reserve at least one, but more often several days for the Peneda-Gères National Park. This is Portugal's oldest national park, bordering Spain, and divided into two larger parts. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site for its biosphere. Peneda is rocky and has magnificent views, dolmens and wonderful hiking challenges. Gères is wetter: waterfalls, greenery, shade and hiking challenges. To each his own.

Yes, and what do you see on the national routes that just run through this area [i.e. good roads, clear signage, safety measures]? Of course, the vistas should not go unmentioned. Behind every bend a new gem with rocky outcrops, carved valleys, huge boulders, warnings of cows crossing, rustic villages with picturesque chapels and churches. The region is agricultural with small family plots: people live in relative affluence, but have to work hard and to their death. In the mountains, the winter months are wet and cold: the ravages of time mark the faces of the inhabitants, making age estimation impossible. As a result, we actually always look youthful and fresh.

In the national park are two shrines for the Roman Catholic Church: yes, you are in Portugal. These shrines are visited daily by pilgrims, some 2.5 million every year! So it is not surprising to find a huge hotel opposite the church, and a daily tourist market.

Between them, the shrines are not inferior to each other in importance. In Peneda, you will find the copy of the Bom Jésus of Braga. This blog focuses on Santuário de São Bento da Porta Aberta, or the Sanctuary of St Benedict of the Open Door in the municipality of Rio Calda. The first mentions of this church date back to the year 1615. The current pope elevated the church's qualification to basilica in 2015 on its 400th anniversary. The name refers to the fact that its doors are always open for travellers to take shelter.

We too were captivated by the extraordinary church, which was visible from a greater distance. Inside the church, it is not an overwhelming display of gold, but you will find a serene atmosphere with paintings and tile panels. The church can accommodate a few hundred visitors in ordinary times. That's big for a mountain village, but on the cramped side considering all the pilgrims. A crypt has been built under and next to the church, which can also be visited. Large tile plaques of Saint Benedict and his life have been placed there, which are absolutely worth seeing.

Yes, and you have to walk around it. You marvel at the tiles that cover the entire church. Where other tiled buildings are attributed to lazy Portuguese, after all, you don't have to paint your house anymore, in the case of the Sanctuary of St Benedict of the Open Door it is a result of devotion.

Perhaps a wonderful outing for you: Avenida de São Bento da Porta Aberta,

4845-028 Rio Caldo, Portugal.


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Published 17-01-2024 / Copyright © Villa Branca Barreiros Bed & Breakfast AL/98139