Pinhão – Douro valley

The village

The village of Pinhão is planted at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhao rivers in an area of about 3km2.
Its population of about 650 residents has decreased over the last fifty years. The fall of population is due to the exodus or to the coast of the country or to foreign emigration.

The importance

Pinhão is an extremely important village in the Douro wine region context for its central position. One can not claim to be the capital of the Douro and Port wine but it is surely his heart. And here is all heart.

Having acquired its importance during the twentieth century thanks to the network of roads and railways does not present a very rich historical heritage.
Nevertheless be sure to see the magnificent tiles with wine themes at the train station.

The richness

The richness of Pinhão is not its architectural heritage but the people and their knowledge. You will find here an enormous collective wisdom of knowledge and flavors, shared and transmitted between neighbors and friends, in the end of the day, around a glass of wine.

Here we experience a rural Portugal already forgotten the coastal cities.

Pinhão way of being

After work men join together to drink and chat.
At first glance they could frighten who is passing by, in their rude, loud voices and burning discussions , but are not angry.
They discuss as hard for, the last football game of their beloved club, treatments to do in the vineyards, the quality of their wines or the hardness of overthrow olives.
And they teach each other.
They do not keep to themselves what they have learned from their parents and grandparents and even transmit the new knowledge and techniques brought by the new engineers who, arrived to the region by the hand of the great exporters of Port wine.

The jealousy, rivalries and quarrels between neighbors exist here as everywhere. Some of these differences are old family wars, which tend to perpetuate in time.

The two worlds of Pinhão

Pinhão lives in two worlds that coexist. The large landowners and small farmers. They are parallel worlds that intersect themselves, but that hardly mix together. The vanity of some and the rudeness of the others, keep themselves apart from each other, creating in Pinhão a disunited, complex and sometimes autistic Douro.

But that’s the life in Pinhão, strong, hard, hot and dramatic because here, everything is heart.


Trevões Douro Valley

Trevões Douro Valley village is a small wine-growing town of exquisite beauty. Historical old town, Trevões have records of existence in the 10th century, prior to the foundation of the nationality.

History of Trevões Douro

Trevões Old House

We lost the origin of Trevões in Roman empire. There are archaeological vestiges of their presence in this area. Roads and coins were found here in medieval times.

But the first historical records date in the 10th Century, when Trevões was in the in the arabic border.

Trevões always had an history linked to the catholic clergy. First attached to Guimarães Monastery and after to Lamego Bishop.

The bishop of lamego ruled Trevões since the 12th Century. During the medieval age there was a big tension between nobles and clergy for Trevões territory domain.

But the bishopric was always able to persevere Trevões under his influence.

Trevões Patrimony

Trevões Solar dos Caiados

Result of this historical relevance, Trevões nowadays have a an important architectural patrimony. Old noble and clergy beautiful houses, churches and a very well preserved small historical center.

My own tour in Trevões

Beginning of January, the days here in Pinhão, Douro valley, are still beautiful.

We are getting a cold but without rain month of January. This cold temperatures brought with them the flue that I wasn’t able to escape. Nerveless, when the sun is strong enough to lift the morning fog the afternoons are sublime.

Last Sunday I transformed myself in a Douro tourist. My plan was to test a tour that I want to make with my clients. A tour trough Valença do Douro, Trevões, São João da Pesqueira and Ervedosa do Douro.

The left margin of Douro river in Cima Corgo region is absolutely marvelous.

The waving vines along the level curves mixed with the new vertical vineyards make an authentic patch work. I could guarantee to you that to me is one of the best tours in Douro.

I made this rout in this cold January in a time that could be considered bad to see our region.

In fact the absence of leaves in the trees and vines give a sadness look to our Douro valley. But there are other things here in the winter that you couldn’t see other times of the year.

The winter smell of Douro Valley

Trevões Noble Coat of Arms

Everywhere you go you get in touch with the smoke aromas in the air. They come from the home fireplaces and the small private meat smoking plants. This smell invite you to get inside to taste our typical cuisine, usually very strong but that go very well with environment. In the summer this cuisine is to strong to face the high temperatures so you will lose one of our crown jewels, the Douro winter cuisine.

Making this tour last Sunday I was dreaming about the landscape potential beauty along the year. The vines with the first tender leaves in the beginning of the spring, the flowers of the cherry and almonds trees, the grapes getting their color in the summer, the rushy harvest season, the oak and chestnut trees with their autumnal vests…

Best time to visit Douro Valley

When people ask me what is the best time to come to see the Douro valley I never know what to say. The Douro valley must be seen at least four times to be truly absorbed. One in winter, other in the spring, another in the summer and finally one in autumn.

So, what are you waiting for?

Jorge Barefoot


Casal de Loivos

Probably one of the most beautiful views of Douro valley

Casal de Loivos viewpoint is, probably, one of the most beautiful views of Douro valley.

The scenic landscape is simply stunning.

About Casal de Loivos

Casal de Loivos is a small parish in the municipality of Alijó, located on the top of the mountain that grow over the village of Pinhão.

To get there from Pinhão you need to take the road to Alijó and then turn to your right after the cemetery. The total distance is 3.6km. But think carefully before going there walking. From Pinhão to Casal de Loivos we are talking about 285m of altitude difference.

What you could see from Casal de Loivos viewpoint

From this high point (407m) you will be able to identify the village of Pinhão. Pinhão is well next to the Douro river, quietly watching the slow running of its waters tamed by the dams of Valeira and Bagaúste. You will see also the bridges that cross the Douro and the Pinhão rivers.

Douro vineyards and winemakers

Also in this margin, on your left and just after the Douro river bridge of Pinhão, you will find two important vineyards. Quinta do Bonfim, owned by the Symington family, which are currently the largest owners of land in Douro valley and Quinta da Roeda from Taylor’s.

Looking directly across, to the opposite bank of the river, you will find Quinta das Carvalhas. Quinta das Carvalhas is owned by Real Companhia Velha, the oldest business of Portugal. On the top of the mountain the famous round house. From this place you could enjoy a beautiful landscape. The only way to go there is using the private green bus of Quinta  das Carvalhas. This bus runs between the village of Pinhão and this viewpoint.

Walking in Casal de Loivos

There is much more to see if you had time to make a walk through a pedestrian trail, but unfortunately for most tourists, visiting Casal de Loivos stops here.

This route is not marked and you will need a local knowledgeable guide.

Other Douro Valley viewpoints

As you see this is a viewpoint that you should’t miss. There are others beautiful viewpoints like São Salvador do Mundo, São Leonardo de Galafura, Senhora das Neves, Nagozelo or Viso but you will need more than one day in Douro Valley to see all of them.

Points of interest

Pinhão station tiles

Pinhão station tiles

Pinhão station tiles 15

The Pinhão station tiles is a set of 24 panels constituted from a total of 3024 individual tiles. Images of the landscape of Douro Valley and the traditional works around here, they are the Pinhão ex libris.

Being a logistical town without old historical monuments, the tiles are with the landscape our most important patrimony.

History of Pinhão station tiles

Pinhão train station was build in the end of 19th Century and opening to the public in 1880. The tiles only arrived 57 years after the inauguration, in the year of 1937, during the period of “New State”, the Salazar dictatorship.

The tiles were an offer from Port Wine Institute in 1935. They were commissioned to a very famous tiles factory in the city of Aveiro named Aleluia. Aleluia asked to the artist J. Oliveira, famous tiles painter, to make the work from photos of the region. He finished the work in 1937, date when they were applied in the train station.

All the tiles are made in the Portuguese tiles tradition with the white, blue and ocher colors.

The set of 24 panels of tiles was totally restored in 2011 in a joint work between REFER and the National Museum of Tiles.

Themes of Pinhão station tiles

As I mentioned before, the chosen themes were the landscapes of the Douro Valley and representations of the agricultural works of the region. When we talk about agricultural works here, we are, obviously, talking about the works in the vineyards.

Pinhão station tiles 1

River Douro Pinhão

In this panel you could see an image of Douro river near Pinhão.

In the left margin you could observe a traditional Rabelo boat with open sails, probably carrying barrels of the famous Port wine. Probably because it seems that she is in the south bank of the river.

In the opposite side you are able to see the railway line that was making the connection between Porto and Spain.

River Douro from São Salvador do Mundo

Another perspective of Douro river now from one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Douro Valley, São Salvador do Mundo.

São Salvador do Mundo is a place that you shouldn’t miss.

It belongs to São João da Pesqueira and a long way from Pinhão. But from here you are able to see the border of two Douro Valley sub regions, Cima Corgo and Douro Superior.

Wine National Station of Douro in Torto River

The panel of Wine National Station of Douro in Torto River represents one of the former institutions that was regulating the wine production in Portugal.

In this case, this organization had responsibilities in the regulation and scientific promotion of Douro viticulture.

Like the Pinhão station tiles, the National Stations also born in the “New State” age. You could see here apart from the ornamental purpose also a propaganda objective. You must remember that we were in the beginning of the Second Republic, the “New State”. The new Constitution was settled in 1934. Salazar had the power now. Strong leader, no elections, censorship and propaganda, these were the pillars of the new regime.

Men carrying the heavy baskets

Pinhão station tiles 6
Pinhão station tiles 8

Here the strong men from Douro Valley are preparing themselves to carry the heavy baskets to the winery.

This was one of the hardest jobs in Douro Valley.

The basket full of grapes were weighing more than 70kg. This men job was the hardest during the harvest. The weight of the load associated with the difficulty of the terrain and the high temperature forge the people in Douro region.

Nowadays this work is more reasonable. The weight is now in average 25kg and you could count with the help of tractors and vans. Even so, in some cases in the most difficult access vineyards you still have to carry the baskets on your back.

This is the cost to produce one of the best wine of the world.

Loading the Port wine in the Rabelo Boats

Pinhão station tiles 12

In this panel you could see the load of Port wine barrels in the traditional Rabelo boat.

The scene is in Pinhão in a place that we still call “praia”. “Praia” means beach. The beach as already gone with the increase in the level of water caused by the construction of dams in the 60’s.

The wine transport changed a lot in Douro Valley since this time. After the arrival of train to Pinhão in 1880, the producers start progressively moving from Rabelo boats to the railway line.

The boats stayed fighting the train for the expedition of wine to Porto until the middle of the 20th Century. In 1961 there was only 6 boats working.

Nowadays the wine transport is mainly made by truck due to the flexibility and cheaper price that the producers get.

The rest of the tiles panels

The rest of the 24 tiles panels is something that I’ll leave to you to discover and enjoy.