The town's name is attributed to the Arabs who, when occupied the area in the eighth century, called it "Mir Andul". With the birth of Portugal as a sovereign state, the town's strategic importance grew even further. Dom Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first King, ordered the construction of a castle and defensive walls to protect the town in the twelfth century.
The town's old quarter retains many houses and buildings from the Middle Ages. Most notably in the handsome Largo Dom João III, where the Town Hall and Miranda's museum Museu da Terra de Miranda is located. In the centre of the square stands a curious bronze sculpture by Antonio Nobre. It is dedicated to the farmers of the "Terra de Miranda". It represents a woman dressed in the typical Mirandese folk costume and a man wearing the equally traditional "capa de horn" hooded robe.
Just off the Largo Dom João III is the Rua da Costanilha which contains some of the best medieval houses in Miranda. The road terminates at a gothic archway in the old town walls flanked by two defensive towers.
The sixteenth-century cathedral dates back to the time when Miranda was the capital of the local diocese. This fact goes a long way to explain why one has an impression this mighty construction feels a little oversized in comparison to its surroundings. At the end of the eighteenth century, the capital status was transferred to Bragança, leaving the cathedral an unwieldy reminder of what could have been. Its imposing facade faces north and is flanked at both ends by two compelling towers with a balustrade running between the two.
Inside the cruciform structure, the ribbed dome is supported by eight Tuscan pillars. The interior feels spacious and vast. The high altar depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin and the Crucifixion.
One strange and slightly eerie item found inside is a carved statue called Menino Jesus da Cartolinha (Boy Jesus of the Top Hat) which depicts the boy who, according to folk law, miraculously appeared during the Spanish siege of 1711. He rallied the Portuguese defenders to victory. He's been carved with his famous top hat and is on display in a glass cabinet.
Tuesday – Sunday: 10h00 – 12h30/14h00 – 18h00, Monday: CLOSED | FREE
Largo da Sé, 5210-184, Miranda do Douro, Portugal | 41° 29' 35.3" N | 06° 16' 24.3" W
+351 273 430 025
To the rear of the Cathedral are the ruins of the 17th-century Episcopal Palace which was the official residence of the bishops. This once opulent palace was destroyed by a series of misfortunes but its central courtyard and cloisters remain. The area now makes for a relaxing stroll amongst the ruins and the trees and shrubs which have reclaimed these grounds. Where the park overlooks the valley there are fantastic views over the young Douro below and Spain on the opposite bank.
Pauliteiros are practitioners of folk dance not too dissimilar to Morris dancing in the UK. The name is derived from the Portuguese word Pau, meaning stick. A group of eight men, and nowadays women too, dance around beating out the rhythms by hitting wooden batons (palos) against each other to the accompaniment of bagpipes, harmonicas and drums, the musical repertoire of this dance is called Lhaços. The costumes consist of white embroidered shirts and kilts with a brown waistcoat, leather boots, wool socks and floral hats. It's believed the origins of this dance dates from the Celtic tribes who inhabited the area during the Iron Age.
Early references to the castle date back to 1172 AD when King D. Afonso Henriques gained control of Miranda Do Douro during his Christian conquest of Portugal. It was restored and expanded by King D. Dinis in 1294, later the structure saw off successive Castilian attacks. During the War of the Restoration against the Spanish, it was severely damaged and consequently rebuilt by the order of King João IV in 1644. The new walls were adapted to house artillery and withstand cannon fire.
In 1762, during the Seven Years' War, the army of the Spanish King Carlos III invaded the Trás-os-Montes region including the town of Miranda do Douro. During an attack on the castle, a weapons magazine was hit by cannon shot and over 500 barrels of gunpowder exploded. The resulting blast destroyed the four towers of the castle, along with a third of the town's population, approximately 400 souls. The castle was never again rebuilt and consequently, Miranda's regional influence gradually moved to Bragança. Its ruins and shattered ramparts are now a National Monument and well worth a visit if in the area.
5510-188 Miranda do Douro, Bragança, Portugal | 41° 29' 45.9" N | 06° 16' 29.0" W
Standing aloft on an escarpment 690 metres above sea level seventeen kilometres (10mi) south of the pretty village of Vimioso and thirty-two kilometres (20mi) South-West of Miranda, this mighty fortress has stood guard over the surrounding area for centuries. Recent excavations suggest a stronghold has been on this spot since the early Bronze age. Its strategic advantage was utilised by the Romans too. The first medieval fortress built here was ordered by Afonso Henriques to watch over and guard the frontier with the Kingdom of León. In 1224 the structure was radically altered and strengthened, elevating it to one of the most important medieval fortifications in the eastern Trás-os-Montes.
In 1710 Algoso Castle withstood numerous attacks by Spanish troops, as part of the Seven Years War and during the Napoleonic Wars, it stood defiant against French troops. The Castle is classified as a Public Interest Building, and during the 20th century, it received a degree of restoration.
41º 27" 36.5' N | 06º 35" 06.7' W
Planalto Mirandês is a Portuguese wine sub-region centred around Miranda do Douro in the Trás-os-Montes region. Initially it was a separate appellation but in 2006 it became one of three sub-regions of the Trás-os-Montes DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada). The vineyards of Planalto Mirandês are located in the upper part of the River Douro. Due to the region's dramatic weather conditions, harsh winters and hot summers, grape production is achieved without using pesticides. The red wines are light, nicely palatable and age well. Whilst the whites are lively, fresh, and slightly petulant. The principle grapes of the Planalto Mirandes region include Bastardo, Gouveio, Malvasia-Fina, Mourisco Tinto, Rabo de Ovelha, Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional and Viosinho.
The terroir consists of soil and a climate that differs from the other sub-regions of the Trás os Montes DOC, mostly consisting of shale at altitudes between 350 - 600 metres above sea level.
A quaint yet slightly worn guest house close to the Tourist office, cathedral and the historical centre. All rooms are en-suite and include a satellite TV. A breakfast buffet is available each morning, restaurants and bars are a short walk away.
25 Rua 1º de Maio, 5210-191 Miranda do Douro, Portugal.
41º 29" 56.0' N | 06º 16"21.8' W | +351 273 431 362 | email@example.com
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The Hotel Parador Stª Catarina overlooks the dam where the river Douro forms the boundary between Portugal and Spain, with stunning views over the river Arribas. From the balcony, it's possible to see some rare birds such as the eagle and the Egyptian vulture. Comfortable, tranquil with a full set of facilities, including a quality restaurant that offers local and international cuisine.
The hotel has multi-function rooms available for conferences, seminars or meetings. The restaurant and private rooms are available for banquets, birthday parties and even weddings. The complex also features pools, a bar, a games room and tourist activities.
Largo da Pousada, 5210-183, Miranda do Douro, Portugal.
1º 29" 49.5' N | 06º 16"20.6' W | +351 273 431 005 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Meaning 'beautiful view' the Residential Vista Bela is situated in the modern part of the city with terraced rooms and panoramic views over the lake formed by the dam near Miranda do Douro. The rooms are basic yet comfortable and a good size. They are well equipped with private bathrooms, satellite TV, telephone, balcony and central heating. The restaurant and bar on-site are most adequate serving home-style hearty dishes.
Rua do Mercado 63, 5210 - 210, Portugal.
41º 29" 52.9' N | 06º 16"13.9' W | +351 273 431 054
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Named after the medieval cape traditionally worn in Miranda, this restaurant offers an equally traditional friendly service. The food is of high quality, their speciality being bacalhau, but there is a range of other tempting goodies on the menu too.
Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 22h00
Travessa do Castelo 1, Miranda do Douro 5210, Portugal.
41º 29' 44.2" N | 06º 16' 27.2" W
+351 273 432 699
A family-run establishment with a traditional homely atmosphere with good wholesome local cuisine. Be sure to bring an appetite as portions are generous, or if you prefer a half portion ask for a meia dose. The kitchen is open planed where you can watch the talented chefs busy themselves. The waiters are helpful and gladly explain or recommend dishes and liquid accompaniments. Keep an eye out for the Posto à Mirandesa, a local chargrilled veal dish, also local wine which is served from a jug.
Daily: 12h00 – 15h00/ 19h00 – 22h00
Rua da Moagem, 5210, Portugal.
41º 32' 29.3" N | 06º 19' 32.5" W
+351 273 431 418
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Typical Trás-os-Montes cuisine, a good selection of grilled meat and bacalhau amongst other local produce. Popular amongst locals and can be somewhat boisterous at peak times but always a good atmosphere and friendly service. Portions are typically generous yet prices are very reasonable. House wine is very quaffable.
Daily: 12h00 - 15h30/19h00 - 22h30
Rua Mouzinho de Albuquerque 20, Miranda do Douro 5210-225, Portugal.
41º 29" 43.2' N | 06º 16" 25.3' W
+351 273 431 321
Miranda do Douro is 255km (161 miles) East of Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport PORTO.
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From Porto take the A4 and IC5 East.
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The closest train station is at Pocinho. Regular trains from São Bento station in Porto, it's possible to take a bus from there.