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.
The river Douro and its principal tributaries, the Varosa, Corgo, Távora, Torto, and Pinhão, form the backbone of the mountain landscape, which is protected from the harsh Atlantic winds by the Marão and Montemuro mountains, has been transformed by steeply sloping terraced vineyards that cover some 24,600 ha.
Wine has been produced by traditional landholders in the Alto Douro Region for some 2,000 years. A world commodity, Port wine, a wine of a quality defined and regulated since 1756 is produced here.
Throughout the centuries, row upon row of terraces have been built according to different techniques. The earliest, employed during the pre-phylloxera era (pre-1860), was that of the socalcos, narrow and irregular terraces buttressed by walls of schistous stone, which require continuous maintenance on which only one or two rows of vines could be planted. The long lines of continuous, regularly shaped terraces date from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century when the Douro vineyards were rebuilt, following the phylloxera attack. The new terraces altered the landscape, not only because of the monumental walls that were built but also owing to the fact that they were wider and slightly sloping to ensure that the vines would be better exposed to the sun.
Along the lower banks of the Douro or on the edges of watercourses on the hillsides are groves of orange trees, sometimes walled. The landscape is covered with brushwood and scrub and, here and there, a coppice of trees alternating with vineyards. Water used to be collected in catchments along stone channels. Characteristically white-walled villages and casais are usually located midway up the valley sides. Around an often imposing 18th century parish church, rows of houses opening directly on to the street to form a web of narrow, twisty roads with some notable examples of vernacular architecture. The Douro quintas are major landmarks, easily identified by the groups of farm buildings and wineries that around the main house particularly in the Upper Corgo and the Upper Douro. The landscape is dotted with small chapels located high on the hills or next to manor houses.
The long tradition has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that is at the same time a reflection of its technological, social, and economic evolution. The visually dramatic landscape is still profitably farmed in traditional ways by traditional landholders.
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 associated 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.
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.
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]