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The historical city of Chaves, rising on a fertile valley, was founded in 78 AD under the name of Aquae Flaviae by the Romans, who chose the site not only for its strategic importance but also because of the thermal springs and gold deposits found at the zone.

Successively invaded and occupied by the Suevi, Visigoths and Moors, it is now a city rich in monuments and natural beauties and also renowned for its spa.

The old town and historic centre exhibits medieval streets and squares, a magnificent 14th-century castle keep, which lodges a small military museum, and beautiful churches such as the Igreja de Santa Maria Maior (the splendid Mother Church, with a fine Romanesque portal), or the Baroque Igreja da Misericórdia (with a rich gilded interior lined with 18th-century decorated tiles).

One of the city's attractions is the Chaves Region Museum, housed in the former Palace of the Dukes of Bragança(15th century) and exhibiting a variety of local archaeological discoveries.

The Roman bridge over the river Tâmega displays 16 arches and was completed in the year 100 AD.

Chaves is specially proud of its spa, located near the city centre and offering the hottest springs of Europe, where the water reaches a temperature of 73 ºC (163 ºF), which is used to treat a variety of diseases.

On the hills surrounding Chaves two fortresses were built: the 17th-century Fort of Saint Francis, with impressive walls linking it to the city's ancient defensive system and now lodging the Hotel Forte de São Francisco, and the Saint Neutel Fort, built to support it.

Other interesting fortified constructions are the Castle of Monforte (14th century) and the granite tower of the Castle of Saint Stephen, from the same period.

Besides the thermal springs of Chaves, the county also includes another well-known spa town, Vidago, favoured by royalty in the 19th century. It was king Luís who inaugurated the grand Vidago Palace Hotel, which has been renovated but still preserves its former charm and now offers beautiful lawns, golf courses, lakes, swimming-pools and other facilities.

Chaves is renowned all over Portugal for its smoked ham but also offers a variety of other excellent cured meats and sausages.

As for the local handicrafts, the pottery and basketry of Vilar de Nantes and the hand-made rugs of Soutelo deserve being known.

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