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Tarouca



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Rising on a green and peaceful landscape, the 12th-century Monastery of São João da Tarouca was the first Cistercian house in the Iberian Peninsula and includes a Romanesque church exhibiting beautiful 18th-century panels of tiles, a sculpted tomb of the Count of Barcelos (a bastard son of King Dinis) and a remarkable painting by Grão Vasco.

It isn't the only Cistercian legacy at the county: further north, the impressive Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas also includes a fine church (12th to 18th centuries) with decorated tiles and paintings by Grão Vasco (1475-1540).

These two religious monuments illustrate the rich architectural patrimony of Tarouca, which also boasts of other fine churches and chapels, small palaces and noble houses (such as the Paço Senhorial of Dalvares, founded in the 12th century), ancient pillories carved in stone and historical bridges, such as the famous 12-century fortified tollgate and bridge at Ucanha, unique in the Iberian Peninsula.

At the seat of the county, located at the foot of the Serra de Santa Helena mountains and surrounded by a green and fertile landscape, it is worth visiting the Romanesque church of Saint Peter and Alcácima, a hillock at the town's historical centre where the castle once stood, offering wonderful views and also including a mini-zoo with several species of birds.

The county is crossed by the river Varosa and at some zones it is possible to practice canoeing or more adventurous water sports, or to swim at the fluvial beaches of Mondim da Beira, Ucanha and Várzea da Serra.

The local gastronomy offers excellent dishes of roast kid and trout, and the well-known sparkling wines and whites and reds produced by the Murganheira Cellars at the parish of Ucanha.

Local handicrafts include wicker baskets, wooden clogs and typical wool capes and hoods.

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