Viana do Castelo was the first destination of our 4 days trip to the North of Portugal.
This beautiful city that stands between sea, river and mountain was founded in 1253, by King Afonso III of Portugal. Viana became an important seaport, being one of the main Portuguese seaports during the Age of Discoveries, in the 16thcentury. In 1847 Viana do Castelo was elevated to city status by Queen Dona Maria II.
A curiosity about the origin of the name Viana do Castelo. According to the legend, there was a knight who felt in love with a princess who lived in a castle. The knight used to go round the castle hoping to see the princess, whose name was Ana. Every time he had the chance to see her, he happily screamed: “Vi Ana do Castelo! Vi Ana do Castelo!”, which means “I saw Ana from the Castle!”
Now, back to our trip. We arrived in Viana do Castelo on 12th June 2012. The first thing we did was to go to “Pingo Doce”, a supermarket that usually has free lockers, to put there one of our backpacks and to buy some food.
Then, we visited the “Casa dos Nichos” (House of Niches), a very cozy place dedicated to the archaeology of Viana do Castelo. We choose the perfect moment to go in there. It started raining heavily right after we had started our visit. Luckily, the weather was getting better when we left the “Casa dos Nichos”.
Our next stop was the “Santuário de Santa Luzia” (Sanctuary of Santa Luzia), located on the “Monte de Santa Luzia” (Santa Luzia Mountain). We climbed the “escadório de Santa Luzia” (staircase of Santa Luzia), in which we read “Meu Deus ajudai-me a subir”, which means “My God, help me to climb”. It’s true, it’s a little bit hard to climb all those steps, but it is perfectly doable. But if you are not able or you don’t want to climb the stairs or you don’t have a car, don’t worry, you can use the “Elevador de Santa Luzia” (Santa Luzia Elevator).
Santa Luzia Elevator is a funicular that connects the Railway Station of Viana do Castelo to the Sanctuary of Santa Luzia. This funicular, inaugurated in 1923, is the longest one in Portugal (650 m).
We visited the Sanctuary and then looked for a nice place to have our lunch. We had just seated ourselves and we were starting to take the lunch out of the backpacks when it started to rain. We had to move to a sheltered place next to the Sanctuary.
After lunch, with our batteries fully recharged, we followed the “PR9 – Trilho dos Canos de Água” (Trail of Water Pipes), a pedestrian route that takes us along the “Monte de Santa Luzia” (Santa Luzia Mountain). It took us around 3h30 to complete this trail.
The weather completely changed during our walk. The sky was cloudy and it was raining a little bit when we began our walk. At the end, there was a blue sky and the sun was shining brightly. Therefore, we could enjoy a spectacular view over Viana do Castelo, Lima River and over the Atlantic Ocean.
We went back to Viana to Castelo to visit its historic center. The Cathedral, from the 15th century, and the “Igreja da Misericordória” are some of the monuments we can visit.
We went again to the supermarket (“Pingo Doce”) to pick up our backpack and to buy some more food. Then we checked in at the “Pousada da Juventude Gil Eannes” (Gil Eannes Youth Hostel), which is located in the “Navio Hospital Gil Eannes” (Gil Eannes Hospital Ship).
Our room was the “Contagiosos B” (Contagious people B) and it offered a (small) view of Santa Luzia Mountain. It was so amusing to stay in there, specially for me, since it was the first time I was in a ship.
To compensate the absence of breakfast in this Youth Hostel, it was given to each one of us an entrance ticket for the Gil Eannes Museum , to be used on the next day.
After a refreshing bath we left the ship to look for a place to have dinner. We opted for going to the shopping center “Estação Viana”. I ate a delicious fish accompanied by smashed potatoes and vegetables. A curious thing in the shopping center is the presence of a toy train next to the ceiling that is always in movement.
We walked around, observing the city at night, going next to the river and then we went back to the Gil Eannes Youth Hostel to prepare ourselves to move to Vila Nova de Cerveira on the next day.
Unfortunately, by some unknown reason, we lost all the pictures we took after we had arrived at the Gil Eannes Hospital Ship.