15 Best things to do in Manguard (Portugal)

In the Dão-Lafões region of central Portugal, Mangualde is a quiet provincial town not far from the city of Viseu. Investigate the town and its surroundings and you’ll see a megalithic monument, Roman ruins, magnificent Baroque mansions and hideaways towering high atop a hill. The fertile soil of the Dão River Valley is covered with vineyards, apple orchards and wheat fields, and you will stumble upon all kinds of interesting things on your walks.

Mangualde is known for Feira dos Santos, a food market that has hosted the town for centuries. At these stalls, you’ll soon realize that pork products and cured sausages are Mangualde’s forte, and they complement the bold Dão Valley wines.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Manguard:

1. Anta de Cunha Baixa

Anta de Cunha Baiza

In Cunha Baixa, a few minutes from Mangualde, a megalithic monument stands alone in a field.

The dolmens are up to 5,000 years old and were restored and cleaned up in the 80s and 90s.

It is a funerary monument and consists of a main chamber, 3 meters wide and 3.2 meters high.

The space is made up of nine granite slabs, which are lightly carved if you look closely at the stones.

You reach the room along a slate-paved corridor with smaller granite stones.

Archaeological excavations around the dolmen show that it was in use for thousands of years, all the way to the Bronze Age.

2. Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Castelo

Santuário De Nossa Senhora Do Castelo

A Hermitage Chapel, built in 1832, can always be seen on the town’s eastern horizon. The facade of the building is in the former Baroque style, with a neoclassical altar on the chancel.

It is the latest in a series of chapels erected on this habitat since the 15th century to commemorate the Portuguese victory over Spain at the Battle of Trancoso in 1385. While the building is worth your time, it’s a walk up the hill and a must-see.

Among the pine, cypress and cork oaks there is a huge staircase lined with obelisks and at the top of the platform you can enjoy a view of Mangualde and its countryside.

3. Palácio dos Condes da Anadia

Palácio Dos Condes Da Anadia

The seat of the Count of Anadia is now a wine estate and quite possibly the finest building in Manguard.

This is a baroque palace built between the 1730s and 1800s.

During the 1810 invasion of Portugal, French army marshal André Masséna set foot on these floors. Luís I of Portugal also came here in 1862 after the completion of the Bella Alta railway.

Admire the Italian-style south and west masonry, adorned with rich masonry.

Meanwhile, the interior is decorated with period furniture, glazed tiles and paintings by Italian artists such as Gigagenti, Pellegrini and Lanzarotto.

4. Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Maceira Dão

Mosteiro De Santa Maria De Maceira Dão

It’s a small adventure to reach this abandoned Cistercian monastery in the remote vine-covered countryside of the Dão River Valley.

After getting off the N16 and passing the small village of Vila Garcia, you must use a dirt road.

The monastery closed in 1834 after the dissolution of the religious fraternity in Portugal.

Before that, the complex flourished for hundreds of years, dating back to 1173. This medieval tower, built around the 1400s, is in good condition, as are the 1500s monastic buildings such as cloisters, refectory, infirmary, church and prison cells.

5. Igreja da Misericórdia de Mangualde

Igreja Da Misericórdia De Mangualde

The town’s splendid main church was built in Baroque style between 1720 and 1764 by Coimbra architect Gaspar Ferreira.

The church of the Misericórdia fraternity is usually part of a whole, which is connected with a tower, various halls and a sacristy, all of which have the same architecture.

Note the façade, with its elegant masonry, and the altar inside: the gilded wood altarpiece is probably the best in the parish of Viseu, while the ceiling has 15 panels painted in Lisbon in the 1600s.

Painted in Coimbra in the mid-1700s, Azulejos shows symbols and biblical scenes of the Virgin Mary, such as feeding the crowds.

6. Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Cervães

Ermida De Nossa Senhora De Cervães

There is another ancient hideaway and viewpoint near the village of Santiago de Casures to the east.

There has been a chapel on the grounds since the 1100s and the current building was completed in 1660. The building is a blend of Mannerism and Baroque, and you can measure the bell tower and scrolls on the gables of the facade.

If the door is open, hide in and look at the painted panels on the altar ceiling.

Another attraction is the majestic granite staircase that climbs up to the church, and the vistas that extend to the Serra da Estrela to the east.

7. Termas de Alcafache

Termas De Alcafache

This spa is located in the peaceful countryside of Mangualde, surrounded by taiga, vineyards and apple orchards.

Bubbling in the granite bedrock of the river at the site is a water containing sulphur, sodium and bicarbonate, which is beneficial for people with respiratory diseases, skin diseases, movement difficulties and musculoskeletal or metabolic endocrine diseases .

But many guests come here just for relaxation and pampering, as massages, mud baths, Jacuzzis, jet showers and many other treatments are available.

In collaboration with the Dão-Lafões Tourist Office, the spa offers books to pop, folk and jazz artists on summer evenings.

8. Citânia da Raposeira

Sitania da La Posella

At the base of Monte da Nossa Senhora do Castelo are the ruins of a Roman hotel.

It was built during the reign of Augustus in the early 1st century at the intersection of two important imperial roads.

The inn is an important facility for people to travel and provides accommodation, space and even a hot spring bath for pack animals.

The hotel is also the postal station for the “cursus publicus” courier service in Rome.

There are bilingual interpretive boards on site, and useful reconstructions next to each group of ruins.

9. Calçada Romana de Mourilhe

Calçada Romana De Mourilhe

Part of the Roman road that once passed through Manguard is exposed to the southeast of the town.

It is a few kilometers away, between the villages of Mourilha and Mesquitela.

This will fascinate amateur historians, and if you want to spend a little time in the country, it’s worth it.

The road is about 50 meters long and 5.6 meters wide.

You can see how its surface is made up of four layers: the lowest is rough cement, the next is cement using finer stones, and the top is gravel, which is the bedding of the thick slate.

Eagle-eyed visitors will notice the groove marks left by ancient chariots.

10. Viseu

Viseu

The majestic city of Viseu, located 15 kilometers west of Manguard, is a must for art and culture lovers.

The highest point in town is Adro da Sé: in one place you can see the Manuel Cathedral and the city’s excellent art museum, located in the seminary building.

Viseu has a valuable artistic heritage and is the birthplace of Portugal’s most famous Renaissance painter, Gran Vasco.

The museum has several works, including a painting of a polyp that was once on the cathedral altar, and a work by Gasparvaz, a great rival of Gran Vasco and a follower of the Viseu school.

11. Live Beach

live beach

Mangualde is 100 kilometers from the coast, so in this small town, the beach hits you: Live Beach, an artificial beach, welcomed its first summer in 2011. Open for three months from June to September, this attraction is surrounded by a large blue pool of fine sand.

You can rent sun loungers and parasols, there is a restaurant on site, and there is sometimes a stage with live bands in the evenings.

The beach is surrounded by evergreen woodland, and you can see Montre da Nossa Senhora do Castelo from the water.

12. Ferados Santos

Ferra dos Santos

Mangualde’s annual market/fair is nationally recognized, with a tradition dating back more than 300 years.

It trades on the first weekend of November and is the easiest way to connect with the Mangualde tradition.

This definitely applies to food, as there are markets for nuts, honey and wine, as well as locally made handicrafts such as pottery and embroidery.

You might be hungry for the aroma of grilled pork loin, cured sausages, and ribs.

Meanwhile, the town’s restaurants are offering special menus during the fair, showcasing local produce such as apples, squash and cheese.

13. Percursos Pedrestes

Castro Dupont Suseso

The idyllic Dão-Lafões farmland of Mangualde is your way to discover five signposted trails designed by the Tourist Office.

None of these are moderately difficult given the light terrain, the longest PR5 is ten kilometers and takes four hours.

You’ll stroll through river gorges, olive groves, vineyards, apple orchards, cork oaks, eucalyptus and pine trees, and some history.

These could be remote churches, village fountains, medieval bridges or ancient sites like Castro do Bom Sucesso, a Bronze Age settlement that once stood on top of a 765-meter mountain.

14. Daojiu

wine

The Dão Valley has excellent winemaking conditions: the alluvial soils are fertile and well-drained, the winters in this continental region are cool and humid, and the summers are warm and reliable.

The warm temperatures provided us with some excellent red wines, made from Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz grapes.

These wines are robust, full-bodied, and are known to age well.

Of course, this is just an introduction, there are nine places to keep in mind on your Manguade wine tour.

These include agricultural cooperatives and famous country estates such as Palácio dos Condes de Anadia on the edge of town.

15. Local Food

Rojões à Moda De Mangualde

We already know from Feira dos Santos that meat eaters never go hungry in Mangualde.

The signature dish here is rojões à moda de Mangualde, which is pork belly and ham cooked on a pan and served with stir fry, turnip greens and sausages like morcela (black pudding), farinheira and chouriço.

Another local speciality is the grilled chicken breast stuffed with spinach and stuffed with farinheira sausage meat.

All this red meat is served with a glass of Dão wine.

Desserts include fudge made from baked apples or pumpkin.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Manguade, Portugal
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