Traveler Readers / On the Douro. From a Portuguese dynasty at the gates of Spain

The fifteenth generation of the Sosa Botelho Albuquerque family watches over a huge wine estate as much as a little Versailles, with the same interest in preserving its nearly 300-year-old history. Down, the Douro path continues peacefully

On the sides of these pyramidal ridges of schist, vines and culture do not produce a square millimeter of improvisation. Since leaving Regua in the morning, everything here has been balconies and dry stone walls, hundreds of kilometers of which cannot be added. almost everything, because the profession is lost and technology replaces the hard work of the craftsmen who shaped the landscape; Which reminds us of the pharaonic work done by man on the steep slopes of the island of Madeira, which is also a Portuguese land.

Reaching a height of 900 meters, 30,000 households work in the vineyards and thus about 145 brands immortalize from the ports of about fifty properties. The continental climate that inundates these hills, combined with the Mediterranean climate of some valleys, provides the area with nine months of winter that we imagine to be pleasant, but before all three months of hell. heat waves…

Like air from Versailles…

In the center of the vineyards, not far from Villa Real, extends the field of Mateus. The name is derived from a courtesy surname from the Middle Ages, Majorat de Mateus. It stretches over an area of ​​40 hectares and radiates around a palace built in 1744 whose architecture is said to belong to Nicolas Nasoni, the Italian master who built the Porto Tower. A master of “Rococo” Baroque, the building was topped with ceremonial spiers to add to its grandeur. The Sosa Bothillo Albuquerque family has watched the estate since 1823. It would give soldiers to Portugal, including the Count of Villa Real, the founder of the dynasty, who fought successfully during the Napoleonic Wars. Great politicians, influential and intellectuals, have worked to perpetuate the grandeur of the family and the place, and carefully preserved its history within a small museum, and above all an invaluable library. The books of classic French authors are very present. The reason is simple. Our language has always been the language of diplomacy, which the descendants of the Count of Villa Real did not fail to practice …

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And from France, we will also remember a wonderful French garden, aptly named “Nano Versailles” by a guide that literally tells its own story about the history of the place.

Doro to the Spanish border

This Friday noon was set aside for peaceful navigation, after readers traveling in Pinhao got back on board. A journey that will see the passage of two huge locks almost like the one that Carbatello cut the day before: Valera and her 32-meter-high plan, stored in Pocinho passed a little later, to the rank of formality despite its 22-meter height. The boat barely stopped there for more than a few minutes…

For Douro, peaceful as it is, has been largely domesticated by man, who has shown along the banks that he knows how to master nature while living in harmony with it.

To work on agriculture, to form a landscape now included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO. This Friday evening, the stop in Barca d’Alva, on the Spanish border, reminds us that Douro originates in Iberian soil before Portugal bathes in its benefits.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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