On the plateau in the northern region, Passos de Ferreira is a small city with a thriving light industry. The biggest employers have been furniture businesses since the 1800s, and the town has IKEA’s Portuguese manufacturing headquarters. The Furniture Museum in the Old Town Hall provides a more in-depth look at Paços de Ferreira’s flair for woodwork.
Culturally, the Romanesque route of the Sousa Valley passes and there are several 1000-year-old churches to study. Add these to the exciting ruins of a lost city, once home to thousands, and a football team that excelled in La Liga.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Passos de Ferreira:
1. Citânia de Sanfins
Paços de Ferreira has the ruins of a city on 15 hectares, founded by Celtic tribes who occupied this corner of Iberia before the arrival of the Romans.
Experts rank the site as one of the greatest castros (fortified villages) on the Iberian peninsula: Citânia de Sanfins is a kind of regional capital where 3,000 people once lived in The first meters of the building are all made of monumental stone walls that leave a pattern on the top of the hill.
One of its residences has been rebuilt with thatched roofs to make the experience more authentic.
2. Museu Arqueológico da Citânia de Sanfins
Next to the ruins, you can walk into Solar dos Brandões to learn about the background and chronology of this mysterious city.
The building is also worth mentioning, as it is a stately 18th-century mansion that was later extended by a nobleman who made his fortune in Brazil.
The gallery inside will tell you that the excavations started in 1944 and lasted 5 years.
You’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the people who live in the city, their customs, and cultural trade with as far afield as the Middle East.
The gallery features a fabulous statue restored on site, along with pottery, coins, inscriptions, masonry nails and a scale model of the city’s highest peak.
3. Igreja de São Pedro de Ferreira
The cultural highlight of Paços de Ferreira is this Romanesque church built in the 1100s.
This is one of the precious monuments on Rota do Românico, a route with 21 churches, chapels and monasteries, located in the Sousa valley.
Students of medieval architecture are drawn to the building as it blends styles from the Zamora School (in the Archives) and the Coimbra School, in the intricate masonry of its capital.
The ornate carvings on the side doors mirror those found on a church near Unhão.
Among the newer accessories in the interior, you can check out the Manueline baptismal font from the 1500s and a colourful image of St Peter.
4. Dólmen de Lamoso
In the idyllic countryside north of the county seat, you’ll find a megalithic monument that has stood for over 3,000 years.
Also known as the Dolmen de Leira Longa, this is a burial monument of enormous scale.
The site has a total diameter of 25 meters and is centered on a main polygonal room over 3 meters high, consisting of a huge stone slab supported by nine columns.
You enter along a shooting corridor with four smaller flagstones on each side.
5. Museu do Móvel
Paços de Ferreira is sometimes referred to as the “Capital do Móvel” (Furniture Capital), which is also the focal point of the town’s municipal museum.
The venue is the exquisite former town hall of Paços de Ferreira, where furniture and the tools for making them are displayed in spacious rooms.
There are antique beds, sofas, chairs, cabinets, a dresser with marble tops, all locally made, and the museum walks you through the process of working on log furniture.
You can browse tons of tools such as saws, hand and mechanical, wood planers, old vises and workbenches.
6. Cape San Francisco
In Freamunde, this 18th-century chapel is an element of a triangular ensemble of hospice from the same period.
Both the hospice and the chapel were established by St. Francis Third Order, and although the ensemble is small, the structure is perfect.
On the portal of the church, set your sights on the triangular gable with the coat of arms of the Knights.
Directly above is a niche with a stone statue of St. Francis.
Go inside and see the understated 18th century altar and its two side retables, a fusion of Baroque and Neoclassical styles.
7. Pelourinho de Paços de Ferreira
In Portuguese towns, shackles have judicial, administrative and political meanings: they symbolize the autonomy of the town and are also posts for public punishment of criminals.
The pillory of Paços de Ferreira sits in a small formal garden in front of the former town hall, now a furniture museum.
This one was carved from granite in the 18th century and includes a Doric column and capital with the Portuguese coat of arms under the crown.
This monument replaces the pillory that disappeared in the early 1400’s in the 1700’s.
8. Miradouro do Monte do Pilar
The city’s highest point is less than 10 minutes from Paços de Ferreira in Penamaior, on the way to Santo Tirso.
Monte do Pilar is 500 meters above sea level, and when Porto’s weather is nice, the skyscrapers of Vila Nova de Gaia, Maia and Matosonhos are on the western horizon.
The striking monument here is the 1961 Great Statue of Christ the King, which replaced the previous statue that was razed to the ground after a storm that lasted a year.
There is also a chapel and a picnic area in the woods where the sunsets are magical.
9. Igreja Matriz de Carvalhosa
The church has medieval origins and was expanded in the early 17th century.
This makes the building peculiar as it is the only one of the two churches in the county with two identical naves side by side.
The façade is austere, without any decoration other than the Gothic limestone figure of St. John, the patron of the church.
But there’s something pretty in there: an 18th-century Jesse’s Tree on the altar, depicting Christ’s ancestors.
Artwork of this type is also very rare in Portugal, and there are only two other recorded examples.
10. Castro do Monte Padrão
West of Paços de Ferreira, there is another fascinating ancient site.
Visiting the sites and their interpretive centres is doubly motivated, as this wooded granite spur also offers stunning views of the Ave Valley.
Castro is one of the oldest settlements in the area, dating back to the 9th century BC. Amazingly, the settlement was not inhabited until the 1300s.
The Three Lines contain a network of low walls that once served as houses and meeting places.
The Interpretive Centre has a timeline of the site, and there is a collection of artifacts at the Museu Abade de Pedrosa in San Tilso.
11. Passos de Ferreira
The town’s football team is by no means a giant, but they have been playing in the Portuguese top flight for over a decade.
Show up on any game week and you’re guaranteed to have a good standard.
Back in 2013, they stunned everyone when they broke the Big Three’s hold on the top spot in La Liga, finishing third and reaching Champions League qualifying.
Additional revenue from their recent European achievements has been reinvested in the stadium Estádio da Capital do Móvel, which has increased its capacity to just over 9,000 by 2017. Competitions are usually held every other week between August and May.
A visit by local rivals Guimarães, Morelense, CD Aves or Porto FC will be even more lively.
12. Santo Tirso
Don’t miss the chance to visit Santo Tirso and its Benedictine monastery, just a few minutes away.
The monastery was here before the town, dating back to the 10th century.
The current building is a labyrinth-like complex containing a church, government offices and a municipal museum.
A new annex next to it is the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture.
This was only unveiled in 2016 and was conceived by two of Portugal’s leading architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura.
The museum is a catalogue of 47 public artworks around the city, designed by Peter Klasen, José Barrias, Wang Keping and Peter Stampfli, among others.
13. Mosteiro de Cete
If you want to learn more about medieval history, the iconic sights of the Romanesque Route are a short distance south.
A National Monument, the church is one of the oldest Romanesque buildings in the area, built in 985. It was restored at the end of the 11th century by Gonçalo Oveques, a close associate of the Portuguese count.
The church has no later decoration, with blind arches with carved capital letters in the apse, and outside is a square zigzag Gothic tower built in the 1300s.
The granite tomb of Gonçalo Oveques is located in a funeral chapel, and the walls are covered in Moorish-style geometric tiles from the 1500s, around the time the cloister was completed.
Once you are on the A4 or A41, the city of Porto is in sight and should be there in around 20 minutes.
There are hundreds of great reasons to come to this exciting UNESCO city.
You might want to learn the difference between a tawny and a ruby port at a wine hut, or get lost in the narrow winding alleys of the fun-filled Ribeira district.
There are blockbuster sights such as the Dom Luís I Bridge, designed by the founder of the Eiffel company, or the Clérigos Church, designed by the Portuguese Baroque star Nicolau Nasoni.
For contemporary culture, the Casa da Música and Serralves museums and Art Deco houses in Rem Koolhaas are a must.
15. Capaõ de Freamunde
If the city of Paços de Ferreira is known for its gastronomy, it is Freamunde capon.
These are castrated roosters that plump up and become very soft and juicy.
Freamunde was so proud of its capons that it put Feira dos Capões at an exposition about the birds.
And this fair is not a new tourism initiative, but actually dates back to the 1400s and was officially established by royal decree in 1719. The fair kicks off at the end of November, when the restaurant in Paços de Ferreira puts capon on the menu and competes to see who can roast the best bird.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal
Lowest price guaranteed.