Côa Valley Archaeological Park
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THE CÔA VALLEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
(PARQUE ARQUEOLÓGICO DO VALE DO CÔA)

The Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa – PAVC) is siturated in the Alto Douro close to the confluence of the river Cõa with the Douro. The site is a rare glimpse back into ancient times when our prehistoric ancestors carved the animals they hunted on rock walls. MADABOUTPORTUGAL.COM is your definitive guide to this somewhat remote yet fascinating Archaeological Park, how to get there, what to see and how to secure a booking before you arrive.



INTRODUCTION TO THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF THE CÔA VALLEY

During the construction of a dam in the Côa River valley in the 1990s, close to the frontier with Spain, a series of prehistoric rock engravings were uncovered. The site was deemed of such great importance that work on the dam was cancelled and the site was given protective status. The precious rock art consists of thousands of inscribed rock drawings depicting horses, bison, deer, goats and other creatures, also human figures and abstract pictographs, dating from 22,000 to 10,000 years BC.

The Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa – PAVC) was created to give access to visitors, and to preserve and study the engravings. A museum was also constructed here following an international design contest.

ABOUT

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

|  The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park was inaugurated in 1996. With the mission to manage, preserve and control public access to the rock art within the Côa Valley. This unique collection of Paleolithic cave art was recognised by UNESCO in 1998 when was awarded World Heritage Site status. Scientists recognise the historical importance of these carvings as a rare insight into the dawn of human cultural development and the creative thinking of our ancestors.

The protected area spans over 200km2 (77 square miles) and now includes similar engravings found over the Spanish border in Siega Verde. The engravings are believed to date as far back as 22,000 years to the Paleolithic period and found amongst them are rock paintings and etchings from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, the Iron Age, the 17th century and even more recent times, amounting to about 25,000 carvings in total. The earliest drawings are composed primarily of zoomorphic imagery of nature such as horses, cattle, human figures and abstract forms. They're ideographic in form and are some of the first examples of human visual communication ever discovered. The later inscriptions from the Iron Age consist of line drawings of stylised human figures, mainly warriors, armed with swords and lances, with many on horseback. A new craze of rock engraving occurred in the 17th century that continued right up to the creation of the park.

HOW TO VISIT THE PARK

The PAVC authorities at the park have the delicate task of allowing public access to the sites whilst conserving the area and minimising damage. The Côa Archaeological Park consists of the main centre in Vila Nova de Foz, and two Visitor Reception Centres, from where the three most important groups of rock art can be visited. From Vila Nova de Foz, visitors can see Canada do Inferno; from Castelo Melhor they can visit Penascosa; and from Muxagata, the destination is Ribeira de Piscos. These Visitors' Centres have all the necessary infrastructure, with information about the valley and the art both in displays and computer presentations. Guided tours are conducted in all-terrain vehicles and each sight is open to the public. Taking sensible shoes and bottled water is advisable when visiting.

BOOKINGS:
Tuesday – Sunday: 09h00 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
+351 279 768 260 | visitas.pavc@igespar.pt |  Website

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

|  The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

The Canada do Inferno Tour

Starting at the Côa Museum just outside the town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa you'll be taken by a 4x4 with a guide four miles past the abandoned construction site of the cancelled Low Côa dam and onwards up a dirt track. The final 400 metres are done on foot to the first set of engravings on your tour on the left bank of the river Cõa.

The tour follows a route along a 130-metre deep canyon carved out of the landscape by the Cõa river. You'll encounter Paleolithic engravings of ibexes, horses, aurochs and fish. Later engravings of deer and goats engraved more stylistically can also be seen here. The tour lasts from an hour and a half to two hours and covers around 800 metres of walking over reasonably easy terrain.


Tuesday – Sunday: 09h30 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
€16.00
Rua do Museu, 5150-610 Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal.
41º 04’ 47.5" N | 07º 06’ 44.4" W

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

The Penascosa Tour

The Penascosa tour starts at the reception centre of Castelo Melhor nine miles from Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Visitors are taken to the site by 4x4 accompanied by a guide along country roads flanked by fields of almond trees and olive trees, past the Quinta de Ervamoira vineyard and museum on the opposite bank of the Côa before arriving at a river beach. A 300-metre stroll from the car park will take you to your destination. The engravings are grouped in two large clusters exhibiting mostly figures of animals dating from the Paleolithic, such as ibex, horses, aurochs and some fish. In several cases, the artist tried to convey the concept of animation: in one apparent mating scene, a mare is mounted by a stallion whose three heads suggest the downward movement of his neck. Penascosa is the most visited site of the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley, mainly due to its easy access and great beauty, as well as for the quality of its Paleolithic engravings, coming some of the best rock art of the Park.
Tuesday – Sunday: 13h30 – 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
€16.00
Castelo Melhor, 5150, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal.
41º 01’ 31.7" N | 07º 04’ 00.2" W

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

The Ribeira de Piscos Tour

Starting from the visitor centre in Muxagata, the Ribeira de Piscos tour takes you by an all-terrain vehicle, with a guide four miles (6km) along a dirt track followed by an 1100m walk from the car park to the site on the left bank of the River Côa. 42 engravings have been documented at the site, 27 of which are Paleolithic representations. One rock panel depicts two horses crossing their heads; another shows a human figure drawn over a large auroch. At higher elevation, there is a panel with extraordinarily realistic fine line engravings of four horses.

The tour lasts two and a half hours and covers around 2200 metres of walking over quite a difficult terrain. It should be noted that the Côa valley is a very dry region, where extremely high temperatures can be reached during summer and shaded areas are scarce. We recommend the use of comfortable clothing and shoes, a hat, drinking water and sunscreen. In winter rain can be harsh and waterproof clothing is advised. Tuesday – Sunday: 09h30 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
€16.00
Visitor Centre of Muxagata, Rua da Corredoura, Portugal. | 41º 04’ 47.5" N | 07º 06’ 44.4" W

THE CÔA VALLEY MUSEUM

The Côa Valley Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa)

|  The Côa Valley Museum

The Côa Museum gives the visitor an insight into the dawn of human culture and the earliest attempts of artistic expression representing man's relationship with nature. Three rooms of the museum introduce and contextualise the rock art of the Côa Valley, and four other rooms explain the monographic treatment of the sites. Incorporating various information techniques such as multimedia technologies, photography, and design are used alongside careful displays of found objects. Overlooking stunning views of the Côa Valley, the striking building is comprised of four floors containing an auditorium, educational services, an administrative area, a shop and exhibition halls.

Tuesday – Sunday: 09h30 – 12h30/14h00 – 17h30, Monday: CLOSED | €5.00
Museu do Côa, Rua do Museu 5150-610 Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal.
41º 04' 50.82" N | 07º 06' 35.24" W
+351 279 768 260/1 | museu@arte-coa.pt |  Website


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CÔA VALLEY TOURS

Foz Côa and Douro

Foz Côa and Douro

We start this personalised tour through the beautiful village of Foz Côa, right in the heart of the interior of northern Portugal. This visit could never be made without visiting the main attraction of the region: the Côa Valley Archaeological Park. Classified as a National Monument in 1997 and a World Heritage Site in 1998 by UNESCO, it is a mandatory stopover, as it holds one of the greatest treasures of humanity. You will discover a real open-air museum. Our visit passes through two of the main estates in the region, Quinta do Quevedo and Quinta da Pacheca.








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Private Tour Foz Côa and Douro: rock carvings, superb views and good wines

Private Tour Foz Côa and Douro: rock carvings, superb views and good wines

Secrets made from millennial engravings and otherworldly wines. We start this personalised tour through the beautiful village of Foz Côa, right in the heart of northern Portugal. This visit could never be done without visiting the main attraction of the region: the Archaeological Park of Vale do Côa. You will discover a real open-air museum. Put on some comfortable shoes and get out of there. The rock art of Foz Côa presents engravings, mostly from the Upper Paleolithic, that is, from our ancestors who lived there more than 20,000 years ago. To make this visit to Vila Nova de Foz Côa and the region is to travel through millennia of history and hear the secrets that these rock engravings want to tell us. Our visit passes through two of the main vineyards in the region, Quinta do Quevedo and Quinta da Pacheca.



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2 Day Private  Douro Valley Tour - All Inclusive

2 Day Private Douro Valley Tour - All Inclusive

Day 1: Pick-up at the hotel, a trip to Peso da Régua Miradouro (Panoramic Sightseeing over the Douro River), visit a typical Quinta (Wine Estate) with wine tasting Trip from Peso da Régua to Pinhão through N-222 (Considered the best road in the World), lunch or gourmet experience, visit the historical train station of Pinhão Rabelo boat trip (1 hour), wine and olive oil tastings, Miradouro (Panoramic Sightseeing over the Douro River) Return to the Hotel.

Day 2: Pick-up at the hotel, trip to Lamego, traditional Port Wine and olive oil tastings, visit to the shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, visit to Lamego´s castle, visit to the archaeological centre, visit to Sé´s Cathedral visit to the Visigothic chapel of Balsemão Lunch (Local Gastronomy), visit to Ucanha´s roman bridge and fortified tower, visit to the Murganheira wine cellars with sparkling wine tasting and return to the Hotel.

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Getting There

Head west out of Porto and join the A4 in Leca do Balio. After 110km take the exit 27 onto the IC5. Continue west for 84km and join the IP2/N102 at junction 10. Continue until you reach the village of Vila Nova de Foz Côa before turning right onto the road which will take you to the park.
41º 04' 50.82" N | 07º 06' 35.24" W

Regular trains to Pocinho from Porto São Bento, alight here and take a taxi to the Park or the town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa. Use the Regional train service (comboios regionais)
Linha do Douro: Train Timetable | Comboios de Portugal Website

Rede Expressos run services across Portugal. Website

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