Just a simple car ride of an hour and thirty minutes east of Porto, is the Baroque-infused town of Lamego. It might’ve been one of my favorite stops in all of Portugal, due to the marvelous sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. But we’ll get to that later.
Lamego is a city in the northern part of Douro valley, with a population of approximately 26,000 people. The historic charm of this hidden gem town stems from both the nobility of the first Portuguese Cortes, and the base of Roman Catholic Diocese of Lamego. Unbeknownst to most American travelers, Lamego boasts both elegance and Portuguese tiled art at its finest.
Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies
The most eye catching architecture here is the dazzling sanctuary devoted to Our Lady of Remedies, fixed above the town of Lamego. Just wait until the twin bell towers strike and sing along to visitors’ footsteps marching up and down its hundreds of stairs.
Constructed on top of Monte de São Estevão in 1750, the sanctuary is one of the most important Baroque pilgrimage churches in the country. After Rome’s Bishop of Lamego, K. Manuel de Noronha introduced Our Lady of the Remedies to locals in this area, the sanctuary was established to bring protection to those who wanted a place for peace and worship. The entire edifice took more than a century to complete, it was finally completed well into the 20th century.
Constructed by stonemason Manuel Faustino Loureiro, the zigzag staircases are interrupted by extraordinary landings adorned with large fountains and stoic sculptures. The most breathtaking element, however, is the enormity of azulejos. These blue Portuguese tiles surpass the definition of art, imagine the labor that went into creating such intricate craftsmanship.
Other important stops:
Porta dos Figos – The red gateway arch welcomes you to the inner part of Lamego. Near here, you’ll find a vaulted stone cistern which goes all the way back to the period of Arab rule.
Lamego Museum – It’s a former 18th century Episcopal palace transformed into a museum that houses collections by Portuguese Renaissance painter, Vasco Fernandes (Grão Vasco).
Sé Cathedral – Commissioned in the 12th century by the first king of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques, since it was in Lamego that the announcement of the king’s ascension to the throne was unveiled. It was then, he also gathered the courts of a newly independent country. Be sure to check out the Gothic-style cloister, you won’t regret it.
Don’t forget these local foods…
Just like most Portuguese regions, Lamego is also known for its olive oil and fresh fruit. But famous dishes here include roasted meaty (most likely rabbit) meals. Sip on some wine at Castas e Pratos, which used to be a local railway station. Or have the famous local favorite: roast kid/goat at Cacho d’Oiro. For traditional cuisine with a fantastic river view, you must make a reservation at DOC by Chef Rui Paula.
The best hotel in town:
I personally LOVED Lamego Hotel & Life. This 1924 villa turned modern hotel was one of my favorite stays in all of Portugal. Not even sure why, but it contains modern amenities with minimalist and chic ambiance in every room. The hotel breakfast buffet was delightful, not to mention dinner was paired with excellent Portuguese wines.
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