Good view in Portugal

According to some tradition, the name of Portuguese city of Viseu is derived from the Roman term “viso”, which means a good view. Indeed, if you do go to its highest point, where the original settlement was formed in Roman times, Viseu does offer its visitors some quite magnificent panoramic views.

Set about 50 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean, the town is a centre for wine, education and the arts.

One of the most interesting features remaining from this period is to be found in the city’s outskirts and is known as the Cava de Viriato. This is an embankment which is estimated to date from between the second and the first century BC. Although it has not yet been totally uncovered, the Cava de Viriato is thought to have been a fortress where the remarkable warrior Viriatus, the chief of the Lusitanians and the heroic leader of the rebellion against Roman occupation, entrenched himself to defend his land. Today it is a popular place where people go to have a good walk.

Viseu has traditions which go back a very long way. In the twelfth century, the city was granted a charter for a free fair, which is still held today in August and September. This is known as the Fair of São Mateus and is one of the city’s main events.

This fair has grown over the years to include lots of music, folklore, handicraft, gastronomy and plenty of entertainment.

Not to be missed at the fair are all the colours and sounds of the concerts and shows that can be seen on the specially built stage, show jumping at the Horse-Riding Centre, bicycle tours, fishing competitions, parachuting and aerobatics displays and athletics events.

The city has a number of green and leafy parks and is very cool and pleasant, yet it also preserves a rich heritage in terms of monuments, amongst which the highlights are the cathedral and the Misericórdia church.

It was in Viseu that one of the most important Portuguese artists was born in the sixteenth century, Vasco Fernandes, who came to be known as the Great Vasco and founded an important school of painting here. Many of his own paintings can be admired in the local museum which bears his name.

Viseu is located in the centre of a demarcated wine region that has taken the name of the river passing through it, the Dão. It is an area that produces reds and whites of exceptional quality which are ideal accompaniments for the region’s excellent cuisine.

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