Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a historic province of Portugal, with limits and attributions that have varied throughout history, but which, roughly speaking, corresponded to the current districts of Vila Real and Bragança and part of the districts of Viseu and Guard. Its capital was the city of Vila Real.

It was also one of the administrative regions of the regionalization proposal rejected in a referendum in 1998.

It is one of the historic provinces in Portugal with the highest number of emigrants and one of those that suffer most from depopulation. Its centuries-old isolation, however, allowed the survival of cultural traditions that mark the Portuguese identity.



Carrazeda de Ansiães
Macedo de Cavaleiros
Miranda do Douro
Mondim de Basto
Vila Real
Vila Nova de Foz Côa


Other destinations

Azibo Reservoir Protected Landscape
Alvão Natural Park
International Douro Natural Park
Montesinho Natural Park
São Pedro do Sul - Baths aimed at recovery and well-being, located in the center of the Lafões region and included in the Dão-Lafões region. It is in the parish of Várzea between São Pedro Do Sul and 3 km from Vouzela, where you can admire the bridge of the old railway line, today the Pedestrian Bridge, and taste the delicious pastries of Vouzela. There is also a viewpoint at the top of this town and county seat on the hill of Senhora do Castelo. The name of this village originates from the junction of the name of the river Vouga with that of the river Zela and their confluence.
Rodrigo Castle



Trás-os-Montes was one of the six major administrative divisions into which the territory of Portugal was divided, since the 15th century. The division was known as the Comarca until the 16th century, after which it became known as the province. Traditionally, the territory of Trás-os-Montes is limited to the north by Galicia, to the east by the Region of León, to the west by the Tâmega River and to the south by the Douro River. These limits varied slightly over time.

Until the 17th century, the Province of Trás-os-Montes was a correction, administered by a corregidor — a magistrate with judicial and administrative functions. At the same time, in the event of war, the province also constituted the area of action of a fronteiro-mor, a military commander who was assigned the operational command of the provincial troops in campaign.

From the 17th century onwards, the province began to be divided into several corrections (also called comarcas), each with its own corregidor. The province then became just a statistical unit and a military region commanded by a governor of arms. At the beginning of the 19th century, Trás-os-Montes included the regions of Bragança, Miranda, Torre de Moncorvo and Vila Real. Inside its territory was the couto de Ervededo that depended on the comarca of Braga (province of Entre-Douro-e-Minho).

The province of Trás-os-Montes remained in the administrative division of 1832. At that time it had a mayor — a magistrate who represented the central government — and a provincial general council — an autarchic body, elected locally. The province was divided into the districts of Bragança, Chaves, Torre de Moncorvo and Vila Real. The districts that were not provincial headquarters each had a sub-prefect, who represented the mayor.

By the administrative reform of 1835, Portugal was divided into districts. The division into provinces was maintained, but these became mere groupings of districts for statistical purposes and regional reference, without their own bodies. The Province of Trás-os-Montes now includes the districts of Bragança and Vila Real.

The province, now known as Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro and encompassing some municipalities on the left bank of the Douro, was reinstated by the administrative reform of 1936, in accordance with the 1933 Constitution (Estado Novo). The new provinces were created based on a geographical study that identified 13 "natural regions" in the territory of mainland Portugal. The natural region of Trás-os-Montes and the natural region of Alto Douro were grouped in the province of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro.

However, the provinces never had any practical attribution and disappeared from the administrative scene (although not from the daily vocabulary of the Portuguese) with the constitutional revision of 1959, not being recovered by the 1976 Constitution.

The proposed regionalization subject to a Referendum in 1998 was rejected. The creation of the region of Trás-os-Montes was foreseen, in everything the same as the province of 1936, with the exception of including one more municipality (Mêda).



The province of 1936 limited to the North and East with Spain (provinces of Ourense, in Galicia, and Zamora and Salamanca in Castile and León), to the South with Beira Alta, and to the West with Minho and Douro Litoral.

It was then made up of 31 municipalities, comprising the entire District of Bragança and the District of Vila Real, also encompassing 4 municipalities in the District of Viseu and one municipality in the District of Guarda.

District of Bragança (all 12 municipalities): Alfândega da Fé, Bragança, Carrazeda de Ansiães, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Miranda do Douro, Mirandela, Mogadouro, Torre de Moncorvo, Vila Flor, Vimioso, Vinhais.
District of Vila Real (all 14 municipalities): Alijó, Boticas, Chaves, Mesão Frio, Mondim de Basto, Montalegre, Murça, Peso da Régua, Ribeira de Pena, Sabrosa, Santa Marta de Penaguião, Valpaços, Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Real Village.
District of Viseu (4 out of 24 municipalities): Armamar, Lamego, São João da Pesqueira, Tabuaço.
Guarda District (1 of 14 municipalities): Vila Nova de Foz Côa.
Currently, the territory of the former province is divided into the statistical sub-regions of Alto Trás-os-Montes (totality), Douro (most of it, except for the municipalities of Moimenta da Beira, Penedono, Sernancelhe and Tarouca) and still part do Tâmega (municipalities of Mondim de Basto and Ribeira de Pena).



The Douro is the most important river in this territory and the backbone of its relief and geographical and human layout. The following important rivers deliver their waters to it: the river Sabor, the river Tua and the river Corgo, whose courses served to channel the region's rail transport. Another important river is the Tâmega, which limits the region to the west. One of its tributaries is the Rabagão river, which also serves to delimit the region and on which the Alto Rabagão and Venda Nova dams are built. On the Azibo river, a tributary of the Sabor, is the Azibo reservoir, a protected natural area of tourist interest. The river Sabor gives rise to the Baixo Sabor reservoir, one of the largest in the region. Nearby are those located in the Douro Internacional: Castro, Miranda, Picote, Bemposta, Aldeiadávila and Saucelle. Half of them are owned by Portugal and the other half by Spain.

Undoubtedly, the most important hydroelectric infrastructure in the region is the Alto Douro Vinhateiro navigation channel, which makes it possible for tourist cruises to travel from Porto to the Spanish border in Barca de Alva. It is possible thanks to the locks of the Pocinho, Valeira, Régua, Carrapatelo and Crestuma-Lever dams.



The region has always been divided into two climatic zones, known as Terra Fria transmontana and Terra Quente transmontana. Terra Fria is the area with very cold and long winters, with hot and dry summers, while Terra Quente has shorter winters, although also very cold, with very hot and dry summers that leave their influence felt even in spring and winter. autumn, which are shorter than normal.



Trás-os-Montes stands out mainly for its contrasting landscapes. To the north is the Montesinho Natural Park, to the east, the Douro Internacional Natural Park, which borders Spain, to the northwest the Peneda-Gerês National Park, to the west, the Marão and Alvão mountains and to the south, the region of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, declared World Heritage by Unesco on December 14, 2001. The northeast of the region was declared a biosphere reserve by Unesco under the name of Meseta Ibérica.



It is one of the main territories in the country in terms of the production of chestnuts, olive oil, wine, almonds, honey and sausages.

According to the 2009 Agricultural Census, the Agricultural Region of Trás-os-Montes, which encompasses all municipalities in the Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro Region, except Mondim de Basto and Ribeira de Pena, and includes another 4 municipalities that are outside Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (Moimenta da Beira, Penedono, Sernancelhe and Tarouca), the areas used for the production of the main agricultural products are the following:

Olival (75266 hectares, 22% of the national total, behind Alentejo, with 49%)
Vineyard (60970 hectares, 34% of the national total)
Nuts (46920 hectares, 41% of the national total)
Chestnut trees (29044 hectares, 86% of the national total)
Almond trees (16506 hectares, 67% of the national total)
Walnut trees (1005 hectares, 41% of the national total
Fresh fruits (7746 hectares, 19% of the national total, behind Ribatejo and Oeste, with 41%)
Apple trees (4645 hectares, 38% of the national total)
Cerejeiras (1948, 36% of the national total, behind Beira Interior, with 41%)
The region thus stands out for having the largest area of vineyards, chestnut trees, almond trees, walnut trees and apple trees in the whole country, and for being the second region with the largest area of olive groves and cherry trees.



Feijoada à transmontana
Feijoada à transmontana is a very popular version of this typical Portuguese dish. It is made with red beans, pork or beef, chorizo, tomatoes, carrots and chard, usually accompanied by dry rice. It is a heart dish, one of the so-called winter dishes, which gave the Trás-os-Montes peasants the energy they needed to successfully face the wild and undulating Trás-os-Montes landscape. It has a multitude of different flavors and textures. The upper classes did it more with veal, the lower classes with pork. They were the two most common meats in the staple diet at the time. Eating veal and chicken every day was a privilege of the upper classes.

Codfish à transmontana
Cod is a well-known food in Portuguese cuisine. The version from Trás-os-Montes has ham, potatoes, garlic, tomato, onion, boiled egg and a touch of port wine.

Cusco was introduced into Trás-os-Montes gastronomy several centuries ago through Muslim or Jewish influence, just like couscous, a very popular food among Muslims and Jews. They are produced as a dough made from wheat flour, which used to replace rice or pasta. Carola, as steam-cooked cusco is called, is eaten for breakfast or lunch, alone or with sugar and honey. Today, they have become a gourmet product used by many chefs. Dried, they are cooked in a similar way to rice and combined with local products such as sausages, mushrooms, vegetables or meat. Sweets are also prepared, with milk and cinnamon, forming a dish similar to rice pudding.