The best independent guide to north Portugal
The best independent guide to north Portugal
Lamego is a delightful town set amidst the vineyard-covered hills of the Alto Douro region.
The town is famed for its magnificent baroque stairway that climbs the steep Santo Estêvão hill to the beautiful Nossa Senhora dos Remédios church.
Lamego may be small but it has an extensive history. It was here that Alfonso I was crowned as the first king of Portugal in 1139. Later, Lamego prospered during the 16th and 18th centuries as a wine-producing region, and the town is still a centre for Raposeira sparkling wines.
This history is reflected in varied sights including an ancient Moorish castle, the gothic cathedral, and elegant 18th century villas. Running the length of the town is the Avenida, a grand boulevard lined with monuments, open-air cafes, and market stalls selling the region’s traditional smoked meats. The Avenida captures the essence of Lamego; relaxing, peaceful and distinctly Portuguese.
Lamego makes for an enjoyable day trip from Porto or as a detour while visiting the Douro Valley.
The town can be fully seen within three hours of sightseeing but will include a lot of uphill walking. It is 686 steps up to the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios church, and is an equally a steep climb up to the castle. During the heat of summer, the visit will be much longer and probably include a long lunch.
Often a day trip to Lamego is combined with a visit to Peso da Régua, the main town of the Alto Douro region. In our opinion, the town of Pinhão further up the Douro is much more scenic than Peso da Régua, and a better place to visit.
If you are planning a day trip just to Lamego, the day could be extended to include the ruins of Portugal's most important monastery, the Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca, and the delightful medieval tower and bridge at Ucanha. Also, there is the grand monastery of Salzedas and the Visigothic church of Sao Pedro de Balsemão.
If you wish to taste the Raposeira sparkling wines for which the region is famed, visit the Caves da Raposeira (number 12 on the map below).
Below is an interactive map for a suggested tour of Lamego, also included in the map are the highlights of the surrounding region (to see these zoom out on the map):
Sights of Lamego 1) Museu de Lamego 2) Catedral de Lamego 3) Ribeiro Conceição Theatre 4) Cisterna de Lamego 5) Castelo de Lamego 6) Igreja de Santa Maria de Almacave 7) Praça da Avenida Doutor Alfredo de Sousa 8) Capela Espirito Santo 9) Escadas da Nossa 10) Pátio dos Reis 11) Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios 12) Caves da Raposeira
Sights surrounding Lamego (zoom out to view) 1) Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca 2) Torre de Ucanha 3) Monastery de Salzedas 4) Capela de Sao Pedro de Balsemão 5) Peso da Régua 6) Pinhão
The historic streets around the castle
Lamego is a very pleasant destination for a stay of a few nights. Lamego has a decent selection of restaurants and bars for a town of its size, and is always bustling with tourist and locals alike.
The town makes for a very good base from which to explore the Douro Valley as it is easy to travel to Peso da Régua (via A24), and there is the scenic N222road to Pinhão and Tua. A second-day trip could be to the monasteries of São João de Tarouca, Salzedas and the tower at Ucanh, and the third day could visit the Fundação da Casa De Mateus near Vila Real.
The map below shows the location of the best hotels and accommodation in Lamego. If you adjust the dates to your stay, it will display current prices and availability.
The Nossa Senhora dos Remédios is a beautiful Rococo styled church that stands at the top of Saint Stephen's hill. The site is an important pilgrimage location, and this tradition originates from before the construction of the church (in 1750), when there was a small chapel dedicated to Saint Stephen.
During the 16th century the wealthy Lamego church converted the devotion to the Virgin Mary, and it became a pilgrimage site for the cure of disease – Hence the church is known as the Mary of Medicines/Remedies.
The church was designed by northern Portugal's masterful architect, the Italian Nicolau Nasoni, but was only finally completed in 1905.
The baroque stairway to the church has nine levels and passes through the dense forests of the Santo Estêvão Park. Just below the church is the Courtyard of the Kings in which a 14m high obelisk stands.
The sombre gothic cathedral dates from 1129, but only the base of the bell tower remains from this period. The decorative gothic exterior was added to the church during the rule of King Manuel I, between 1508 and 1515.
Inside are three naves and impressive altars, but the real attraction is the beautifully painted ceilings (by Nicolau Nasoni). Attached to the cathedral is a Renaissance cloister.
The Museu de Lamego (€3.00) is housed in the former Bishops' Palace and exhibits the religious art collection amassed by the bishops of Lamego.
This museum is regarded as one of the finest regional museums of Portugal and is definitely worthy of a visit. Highlights include 16th-century Flemish tapestries depicting the Oedipus story and five religious artworks by Grão Vasco.
Further details on the collection can be seen on the website: museudelamego.gov.pt
All that remains of this one important Moorish castle is the inner walled keep and a single watchtower.
There are bigger and better castles in Portugal, but it is free to enter, and from the castle's battlements are wonderful views over the town.
The watch tower in the Castelo de Lamego
The view over the Museu de Lamego and cathedral from the castle