Alto Douro Wine Region

Vineyards in the Portuguese wine region of the Douro (Mat’s eye/Wikimedia, CC BY 2.0).

Douro Region, Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
N41 6 6 W7 47 56
Date of Inscription: 2001
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Property : 24,600 ha
Buffer zone: 225,400 ha
Ref: 1046
News/Travelogues: PORTUGAL

Douro Valley (Marco Varisco/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0).

Wine has been produced by traditional landholders in the Alto Douro region for some 2,000 years. Since the 18th century, its main product, port wine, has been world famous for its quality. This long tradition of viticulture has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and economic evolution.

Justification for Inscription

Criterion (iii): The Alto Douro Region has been producing wine for nearly two thousand years and its landscape has been moulded by human activities.

Criterion (iv): The components of the Alto Douro landscape are representative of the full range of activities association with winemaking – terraces, quintas (wine-producing farm complexes), villages, chapels, and roads.

Criterion (v): The cultural landscape of the Alto Douro is an outstanding example of a traditional European wine-producing region, reflecting the evolution of this human activity over time.

Suggested Base:

Viseu is a charming hilltop city and district capital (around 53,000 inhabitants) in central Portugal. It is situated in the Beira Alta between the mountain ranges of the Serra da Estrela and Serra do Caramulo, about halfway between Aveiro and Guarda off the new A25 Motorway right in the middle of the famous Dao wine region. The city, a regional center for agriculture and education, has many schools, a modern polytechnic and 2 universities (the Catholic University and the Piaget Institute). There is no heavy industry. The well-kept, clean and prosperous city has a fine historic quarter… [read more]

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and the capital of the Northern region, and a busy industrial and commercial center. The city isn’t very populous (about 240,000 inhabitants), but the Porto metropolitan area has some 2 million inhabitants in a 50 km radius, with cities like Vila Nova de Gaia, Vila do Conde, Póvoa de Varzim and Espinho. The city was built along the hills overlooking the Douro river estuary, and its historical center was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1996. It has been continuously inhabited since at least the 4th century, when the Romans referred to… [read more]

Vila Nova De Gaia is a city the Douro Litoral region of Northern Portugal, immediately facing Porto across the Duoro river, with both cities forming the core of a contigious metropolitan area together. Vila Nova was created out of the need to house the workers of Porto, and is thus much more residential in character – and, in fact, statistically more populous than Porto itself. Sometimes called “Gaia” in common parlance, the city is home of cellars of port wine, several shopping centers and some of the best beaches. Gaia is actually where the history of Porto began, having been founded… [read more]

2 Replies to “Alto Douro Wine Region”

  1. The Upper Douro region, with its terraced vineyards and stark beauty is still new territory for tourists, so make sure you visit before everyone else discovers it. You can drive there or get the train from Porto. The line hugs the river, and is one of the best railway journeys in the world. The new visitor centre at Quinta de Bomfim in Pinhão is the place to visit to 
see some of the history of the region through a series of rare old photographs. You can visit the lodge where there are huge oak vats used for maturing port since the 19th century and at vintage time you will also be able to see the grapes being crushed and fermented in the lagars.


  2. What attracted me so to the region? Firstly, the striking landscapes, with terraced vineyards everywhere made of schist and granite. The region is simply stunning. Secondly, it has a lot of history. In 1756, the Marquês of Pombal demarcated the Douro Valley, the first [wine] region in the world to be so designated. Producers showed us the stones from that demarcation.

    Thirdly, it is an amazing place to visit for wine tourism, where there are small and big wineries happy to host you, allow you to taste their wines, and in many cases, participate in harvesting. The Douro is a feast for the senses: the sound of the river everywhere you go, the beauty of the hills, the delicious foods and wines, the lagares – old-fashioned stone tanks that are still used to crush grapes give texture to your trip, and more than anything else, the people.


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