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Miranda do Corvo

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Framed by densely wooded mountains, the small town of Miranda do Corvo has a remote history, although its ancient castle, conquered by the Moors in 1116, has almost completely disappeared and only the bell tower and cistern still remain.

It is worth visiting the Mother Church, founded in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1786, with a neo-Classic façade and altars in gilded woodwork.

At a short distance, the Chapel of Our Lady of Piety at Tábuas (16th century), rising on a cliff and surrounded by trees, is a picturesque site.

The village of Semide grew around the great Monastery of Saint Mary, founded by the Benedictine Order in the 12th century. The monastery was profoundly remodelled in the 17th century after a devastating fire, and the actual church dates from 1697 and displays altarpieces with Baroque sculptures and panels of tiles from the 17th and 18th centuries.

At the top of the mountains of Serra de Semide, the Sanctuary of Our Lord of the Mountain offers magnificent views and has attracted pilgrims since ancient times. The chapel, in neo-Romanesque style, was built in 1901 to replace the former 17th-century temple belonging to the monastery.

Still in the county, the tiny mountain hamlet of Gondramaz has been preserved and is one of the typical «schist villages» of Portugal.

At table, the traditional speciality of Miranda do Corvo is chanfana (a sort of goat stew), which is thought to have been created at the monastery of Semide: shepherds paid the rent of their pastures with goats, and as the nuns couldn't take care of large flocks and wanted to keep the meat, they invented a recipe to roast it in wine, also offered by tenant farmers, and added garlic and laurel leaves from the estate.

The leftovers and sauce are also used to cook a typical «wedding soup», and both recipes use traditional clay pots covered with cabbage leaves, as the county developed a prosperous red earthenware industry in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Local handicrafts include works in lace, a tradition also born at the monastery, and the «Almalaguês weaving», woven and embroidered cotton fabric which is used to make tapestries and bedspreads.


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