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Penafiel



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The city of Penafiel stands on a small hill near the river Sousa. The region is reputed for its art of sculpting granite and Penafiel's historical center is a living example of the way this material was used in constructing houses, with the harshness of the stone softened by decorative elements such as tiles, balconies, panneled doors and iron railings, or intricately carved, as can be seen in the granite fountain at Quinta da Aveleda, near Penafiel.

Granite was not only used for houses or decoration purposes, but also in walls, pavements, water ducts, threshing-floors, and fences; in everything, man used this stone for his pratical as well as aesthetic needs.

The town's Renaissance Mother Church and the sanctuary of Our Lady of Piety, curiously blending Neo-Gothic and Byzantine styles, are worth visiting.

However, Penafiel is specially known for being the regional centre for the vinho verde production: these «green wines» are usually white but can also be red, and are made from grapes grown high above the soil, on fences or trees, and picked before they are fully ripe. Drunk when young and fresh (thus its name), the vinho verde is known for its delicacy and slight sparkle. Near Penafiel, one of the main estates of production is the picturesque Quinta da Aveleda, which can be visited to taste the wine.

At about 17 kilometres from Penafiel, the 12th-century church of São Gens, at Boelhe, is claimed to be the smallest Romanesque church in Portugal and its simplicity matches the size but not its aesthetic charm.

Otherwise, the county is characterized by its bucolic sceneries, with rich and fertile valleys and densely wooded hills, pre-historic vestiges and the omnipresent granite which determines the austere local architecture.

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