Rock Art of Portugal
This is a rare opportunity to visit rock art sites away from the beaten tourist trail, in unspoiled countryside on the Spanish/Portuguese border. The engravings in Portugal’s Côa Valley were only discovered twenty years ago when they were about to be drowned as part of a huge dam project. An international outcry saved the rock art for posterity.
It is not only the largest outdoor collection of Palaeolithic images, but also the only known place where rock art from the Upper Palaeolithic through to historical times is found together. There is also an interesting comparison with the Spanish site at Siega Verde, just across the border.
- The World Heritage Site rock art gallery
- Experience the beautiful landscape of the Foz Côa Valley
- Enjoy a visit to a world-class museum devoted to rock art
- Find the cave art of beautiful Ribeira de Piscos region
- Explore rock art panels at Siega Verde, dating to twenty millennia
- Rock Art
- Special Access
- Small Group
- Low Single Supplement
- All Inclusive
We depart from London and fly to Porto. Upon arrival we drive to our hotel in the old town. This evening we enjoy an introductory lecture and welcome drink before dinner.
We board a train on a scenic journey along the green and pleasant Douro river valley towards Foz Côa. We pass rugged countryside and spectacular cliffs as we travel through this renowned wine region. Once we arrive, we drive to our hotel in the town in preparation for our first rock art sites in the morning. What is astonishing about this region, is the rock art here was found as a result of a proposal to build a river dam, which would have seen the caves flooded.
We begin at Canada do Inferno, where the first Palaeolithic petroglyphs were discovered in 1992. This is one of the largest outdoor museums of cave art and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Stone Age images here are mainly aurochs (large, pre- domesticated cattle), horse and fish and are created by pecking or incising. There are also many later images, from prehistory to the present. In the distance one can still see the coffer dam, left in place as a haunting reminder of the damage that was going to be in icted on the valley before the project was halted.
This morning, we visit the rock art sites at Ribeira de Piscos. Some of the best-known of all the region’s images are to be found here. In the afternoon we visit Penascosa, another rock art site on a hill overlooking the river and surrounded by olive and almond trees. The territory here is thought to have been suitable for the establishment of camps in the Palaeolithic period, and remains a beautiful and tranquil region.
We take a momentary break from our artistic explorations at the delightful Medieval hill village Castelo Rodrigo, known for its Medieval castle. After lunch, we take another lovely drive through rolling countryside towards Siega Verde, where hundreds of gures have been found along another tributary of the Douro river. The site boasts a menagerie of depicted prehistoric wildlife including goat, deer, bison, reindeer and woolly rhinoceros, some date as far back as 20,000 years ago.
We start our day by visiting the Foz Côa Museum. Built in 2010, it’s a beautiful modern building with plenty of space and light to view the intricate displays. It houses the best art and replicas from around the region. The museum also tells the story of not only the art itself, but also its discovery and the fight to preserve the ancient heritage of the region. We end the day with another scenic rail journey along the river valley on our return to Porto.
Today, our time in the valleys of Spain and Portugal must come to an end. This morning we check out of our hotel and travel to the airport, where we bid a fond farewell and catch our return flight to London.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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