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Vila do Conde



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| Hotels (2) | Inns (1) | Pensions and Boarding Houses (3) | Manor & Farm Houses (2) | Camping Sites (1) |

A charming small town set between woods of pines, the river Ave and the sea, Vila do Conde enjoyed a great expansion as a ship-building centre during the age of Discoveries, in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Boasting of a fine architectural and historical patrimony, the town is still dominated by the great Convent of Saint Claire, founded in 1318 and rebuilt in 1778.

It contains the tombs of the nunnery's founders, the son of king Dinis, Dom Afonso Sanches, and his wife, Dona Teresa Martins, at the Gothic church, and a fountain at one of the cloisters which was once fed by the imposing five-kilometre aqueduct from the 18th century, of which some of the original 999 arches still remain.

Another main attraction of Vila do Conde is the historical centre, displaying narrow stone-paved streets, low houses from the 17th to 19th centuries and monuments such as the 16th-century Mother Church, with a remarkable Manueline portal and now lodging a Religious Art Museum.

Also worth admiring are the unusual pillory, the ancient Town Hall, the 17th-century Fort of Saint John the Baptist and the Misericord Church. Other fine churches are those of Saint Christopher at Rio Mau, completed in 1151 and classified as a national monument, and the church of Saint Francis, at Azurara, dating from 1518.

Nearby, visitors may see the medieval bridge of Saint Michael, at Arcos, and the Romanesque bridge over the river Ave, linking the parishes of Bagunte and Macieira.

Other sites of interest are Castro de São Paio, at Labruge, with the remains of a Pre-Roman fishermen's village, and Castro de Bagunte, displaying the ruins of a fortified settlement inhabited from the first millennium BC to the 4th century AD, classified as a national monument.

The county is also rich in natural beauties, namely fine beaches of golden sand facing the Atlantic Ocean, such as those of Mindelo, Guia and Forno.

Vila do Conde is famed for its rendas de bilros (bone lace), a tradition dating from 16th century and kept alive at the Lace-making School lodged in a building which also houses the Lace Museum.

At the table, visitors will find abundant fresh fish and seafood, traditional sweets and cakes (following recipes created by nuns) and the local vinho verde.

| Hotels (2) | Inns (1) | Pensions and Boarding Houses (3) | Manor & Farm Houses (2) | Camping Sites (1) |
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