Vila Real

Vila Real is a city in Trás-os-Montes, capital of the Vila Real district, located in the Northern Region of Portugal, located on a plateau 450 meters above sea level on the right bank of the Corgo River. Vila Real is a historic city, founded in 1289 by King D. Dinis, it was a place chosen for residence of the nobility due to the privileged situation of proximity to the cities of Porto, Bragança, Viseu and Chaves, and the presence of the Casa dos Marqueses de Vila Real, notable for the current presence of numerous coats of arms with titles of nobility. The city has had a very strong development since 1973 with the creation of the Polytechnic Institute of Vila Real, in 1979 with the creation of the University Institute of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, and in 1986 with the creation of the University of Trás-os- Montes and Alto Douro, contributing greatly to regional development, a university that is a reference point in the Portuguese university system.

Vila Real began to gain prominence with the arrival of noble families from all over the country that settled here between the 16th and 18th centuries. It is from this time that monuments like the São Pedro Church, a fountain in Campo do Tabulado, now Avenida Carvalho Araújo, the Casa dos Marqueses of Vila Real, the Misericórdia Church, the São Francisco Convent or the Mateus Palace date.

Attractions to visit in Vila Real

Casa Palácio de Mateus and gardens

Casa Palácio de Mateus and gardens: it is a house consisting of a main house, gardens, a wine cellar and a chapel, with 18th century Baroque architecture by Nicolau Nasoni under the command of António José Botelho Mourão, the 3rd Morgado de Mateus. Inside, we can visit a library with 6000 volumes, with emphasis on the illustrated edition of Luís de Camões’s 1816 Lusíadas, countless pieces of furniture, carpets, crockery, robes and relics. Casa Mateus has been classified as a National Monument since 1910;

Alvão Natural Park

Alvão Natural Park: it is a protected area where we find the Cascade de Agarez, the
Fisgas do Ermelo waterfall, and the Galegos da Serra waterfall, an 8 meter waterfall with narrow and difficult paths. Here we can also find some wild animals, unfortunately in danger of extinction, namely the Golden Eagle, the Iberian Wolf (Canis), the Wild Cat (Pedro Violante), the Water Mole and the Peregrine Falcon;

Serra do Marão

Serra do Marão: it is a mountain with 1416 meters of altitude, essentially consisting of pine trees in the wild areas, and vineyards in inhabited areas, located in the transition from the Douro Litoral to Trás os Montes and Alto Douro. At the highest point we can find the highest point is the geodesic vertex of Marão and the Astronomical Observatory of Marão. along the mountain are several abandoned installations for the exploitation of tungsten mines that had their peak in the times of World War II. The Serra do Marão is a privileged place for bird watching, namely the quail, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, wild turtle, laverca, barrier swallow, rock swallow, pipit- of the fields, gray wagtail, black ferret, black rabirruivo, common carthus, blue blackbird, rock blackbird, blackbird, Bonelli felosa, little starling, little starlet, great tit carvoeiro, magpie, pintarroxo, cross-beak, sombre, co and the climbing vine;

Botanical Garden of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro

Botanical Garden of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro: it is one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, with approximately 1000 species over approximately 80 ha of surface, with special attention to the conservation of native plant species, propagation of endangered species in Portugal and wild species for ornamental purposes;

Cathedral of Vila Real

Sé Catedral de Vila Real: it is the Church of São Domingos built in the 15th century, considered the best example of Gothic architecture in the region of Trás-os-Montes

Church of São Pedro

Igreja de São Pedro: built in 1528, the interior is entirely covered with tiles, it is considered one of the oldest churches in Vila Real;

Rupestrian Sanctuary of Panóias

Rupestre Sanctuary of Panóias: a construction from the end of the 2nd century and beginning of the 3rd century d. C, with three fragas where they sacrificed animal victims to the gods! (wikipedia)

Casa Diogo Cão

Casa Diogo Cão: a house built in the 15th century where the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão was born;

Casa dos Marqueses from Vila Real

Casa dos Marqueses de Vila Real: the house built in the 16th century, where the Marqueses of Vila Real lived;

Chapel of São Brás (São Dinis)

Chapel of São Brás (São Dinis): it is a chapel classified as National Monument since 1910;

Chapel of Mercy

Capela da Misericórdia: it is a 16th century church.

Vila Velha Museum

Vila Velha Museum: where we find the archaeological remains collected in recent years in Vila Real;

Black pottery of Bisalhães

Olaria Negra de Bisalhães: known as “Barro preto de Bisalhães, it is a traditional technique of pottery of black colored pieces. The manufacturing process of Olaria Negra de Bisalhães was classified as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco in 2016;

Quintela Tower

Torre de Quintela: is a medieval tower from the 13th century built on a rocky massif at the foot of the Serra do Alvão.

The economy of Vila Real

Vila Real’s economy is based on commerce and agro-industry, with wine, olive oil, meat, sausages, smokers and wood as main products. Vila Real grew a lot due to UTAD (University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro), and its tourism course noted for the natural beauty of the region, the variety of heritage, the Douro River and the Port Wine Route ( this location is the ideal place to start exploring the Douro valley), and the friendliness of the resident people.

Entrepreneurship in Vila Real

Vila Real offers quality conditions for the creation and development of companies due to the creation of business centers, namely:

  • Regia-Douro Park: a science and technology park dedicated to the agro-food, agro-industrial, oenology, viticulture and environment areas;
  • Douro Business Center: with infrastructures for companies, such as offices, training rooms, multimedia meeting rooms, spaces for events and multipurpose spaces;
  • Business Incubator: a support center for companies, with special emphasis on startup companies. This incubator includes pre-equipped offices, high-speed internet access, shared meeting rooms and support services;
  • Center of Excellence for Vineyards and Wine (CEVV): a hub promoted by the University with the aim of developing companies in the vitiviniculture, agrifood and environment sectors. The center is equipped with the latest technology, and focused on the formation and internationalization of the project;
  • Parque Empresarial e Industrial: prepared for the installation of companies in the agrifood, wine and environmental sectors, with direct connection to the A4 (national highway that connects Vila Real to Porto).


Vila Real handicrafts include the Bisalhães black pottery, declared UNESCO Intangible Heritage in 2016, the Agarez linens and the tin have a prominent place in the city’s tradition, being an important tourist attraction.

The parties in Vila Real

Vila Real has a large number of parties, fairs and pilgrimages, namely:

  • Levante Trade Shows
  • Lordelo cattle fairs
  • Nossa Senhora da Pena Trade Shows
  • Vila Real Automobile Circuit
  • Handicrafts and Gastronomy Fair
  • Feast of Saint Anthony
  • Feast of Saint John
  • São Pedro Fair
  • Feast of São Brás

Gastronomy of Vila Real

Vila Real is known for its generous gastronomy, with meat dishes from animals raised outdoors. Bracarense gastronomy includes specialties such as “Bife de Maronesa”, Cristas de Galo “,” guts to sauces “,” Covilhetes “,” sow knee “,” Toucinho pastels “,” Santa Luzia pitos ” “, the” Roasted kid “and the chestnut broth. Vila Real includes the Douro Demarcated Region, where green wines, Mateus Rosé and wines from Adega de Vila Real stand out, elected as” Revelation Portugal 2011 Producer “by Wine Access magazine – Canada.

Quick facts about Vila Real

  • Proverb: “Beyond Marão, send those who are there!”
  • Municipality population: about 50 thousand inhabitants
  • Population City: around 25 thousand inhabitants
  • Number of parishes: 20
  • Area: 378.80 km2
  • City altitude: 445 meters
  • District: Vila Real
  • Old Province: Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro
  • UNESCO Intangible Heritage: Bisalhães black pottery
  • Golf courses: Vidago Palace golf course, 9 holes
  • Thermal Spa: 4 (Thermal Spa of Caldas de Moledo in Peso da Régua, Thermal Spa of Portugal in Chaves, Thermal Spa Pedras Salgadas and Thermal Spa of Vidago Palace Hotel)