A Day Out in Vidago

    Situated in the shadow of the Padrela hills, in a fertile valley on the banks of the Ribeira de Oura river, Vidago is a small spa town, in days gone by the favoured haunt of royalty and nobility in Trás-os-Montes. Famed for its miraculous medicinal waters – naturally sparking, with sodium and bicarbonate ions – this spa resort offers rest, recreation, treatment and tourism.

    On the basis of the archaeological remains discovered, the town’s toponymy and its geographical position, which would have made it an ideal site for a hill fort of the Castro culture, its origins are thought to date back to pre-Roman times. The Romans were not slow to exploit the region’s wealth, both in terms of its mineral water and the fertility of its lands, which yielded excellent wines and high-quality agricultural produce.

    Before waking up to the properties of its water, Vidago was an essentially agricultural settlement with its social life focused around Largo do Olmo, the square named for an ancient elm tree. Today it is the site of the Capela do Olmo (Elm Chapel), also known as the Capela de S. Simão, one of the town’s most important monuments, most of which are of a similarly religious nature. High on the belvedere, which affords a panorama of exuberant beauty, stands the Coto chapel, a hermitage erected in honour of Nossa Senhora da Saúde. A place of pilgrimage, its stairway is often used for the keeping of vows. As the town grew, a process accelerated by the properties of its waters, it became necessary to build a main church (1942). Dedicated to the town’s patron, Nossa Senhora da Conceição, the church is in the Romanesque style. The centre of old Vidago still boasts examples of manorial architecture, with houses that bear the coats of arms of the families whose deeds marked the town’s history.

    Vidago’s precious mineral water is available to visitors to Vidago’s park, where nature in all its splendour pays homage to those who wander by. Over the past hundred years, Vidago has welcomed major figures of the European monarchy, politics and the arts, who travelled there seeking the beneficial properties of its waters. Vidago, Vidago II and Fonte Salus are the three springs that supply the water used in the various treatments.

    All these attractions, from historic monuments to the tall, gracious mountains of the surrounding countryside, can be appreciated from the footpaths that run though the town and nearby villages.

    As well as medicinal waters, the town of Vidago is also blessed with fine wines. The region’s white wines can vie with Portugal’s best, and can be tasted, along with its reds, in any of the traditional cellars that have been springing up in the surrounding area. To finish up with, nothing beats sampling traditional products, like cured ham and smoked meats, in one of the many local restaurants.
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