Portugal is a mountainous country with an unpolluted environment. Its pure and well preserved landscape boasts dense forests and rocky outcrops.
In the Centro de Portugal you will find a huge variety of nature, history and culture. First there are glacial lakes, spring waters and all kinds of outdoor sports: on land, in the sky or on water.
Buried deep in the Serra do Açor (a protected landscape area), which is full of breathtaking views, springs and pastureland, the historical village of Piódão is reminiscent of a crib because of the harmonious way in which its houses are arranged in the form of an amphitheatre. At night, when the village´s lights are turned on, this picture is particularly magnificent.
Long ago, this site was occupied by the Celts, but the process of Romanisation brought a great cultural transformation to this region. The presence of the Romans is still visible in the various archaeological remains housed at the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro, built over the cryptoporticus of the Civita Aeminium, the forum of the Roman city. After them, between 586 and 640, came the Visigoths, who altered the name of the town to Emínio. In 711, it became a Moorish and Mozarab city. In 1064, the city was conquered by the Christian Fernando I of Castile and governed by the Mozarab Sesnando.
Figueira da Foz took its name from its situation at the mouth (foz) of the River Mondego and it has developed into one of the main seaside resorts in the centre of Portugal. A cosmopolitan and lively city, it first began to gain in importance towards the end of the nineteenth century when "bathing in Figueira" was to become a popular pastime amongst the aristocracy of Centro de Portugal region.
Overlooking the fertile valley of the River Mondego, the streets of Montemor-o-Velho reveal the town’s long history in all their nooks and crannies and in the many architectural details that it is well worth taking some time to discover.
The capital of the Ria, a vast lagoon where the freshwater of the River Vouga joins with the sea, Aveiro is intersected by canals, genuine streets of water, along which can be seen gliding the brightly coloured boats known as barcos moliceiros. Originally founded in the time of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Aveiro is now one of the most interesting cities on the Portuguese coast.
Around 3km from Aveiro, down the coast road heading southwards, there is Ílhavo, formerly called Illabum which is believed to have been originally settled by the Greeks. Similar to Aveiro, it is located on the flatlands surrounding the lower reaches of the river Vouga. From time immemorial, this unusual geography has conditioned the livelihoods of settlers coming in search of fishing grounds or the distant New World and its abundant cod. The Sea Museum is well worth a visit with impressive exhibits dedicated to the river and the sea ensuring we do not forget what the old vessels looked like as they slipped out of the river. The Museum also contains a range of navigation instruments and fishing equipment.
Classified as a historical village, Almeida is a fortified town that, when seen from the air, has all the appearance of a 12-pointed star, this being the number of bastions and ravelins enclosing a space with a perimeter of 2500 metres. This remarkable fortress was built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, around a mediaeval castle, in what amounted to a very important place for the strategic defence of the region, since it was situated on a plateau roughly 12 km from the border with Spain, as defined by the Treaty of Alcanices in 1297, which was the date when Almeida first became Portuguese.
Celorico da Beira sits 550 metres high but still at the foot of the Serra da Estrela mountains, with the Mondego river running through. Any visit to this region takes in centuries of history set against a granite mountain background cut by crystal clear rivers and streams.