Historical Villages (Aldeias Históricas) Portugal
When we talk about Historical Villages (Aldeias Históricas, in Portuguese), we refer to a specific set of twelve locations forming a route with the same name. Those locations are:
Please check the map to locate each location here.
For any Portuguese who knows his/her country, the first situation that stands out it’s the fact that some of these locations are not villages, with five towns and a city among the twelve alleged “villages”.
However, I believe that the discrepancy between the designation “Villages” and the administrative status of the places in no way detracts from the route’s concept or its objectives.
In order to guide this text, I will answer two questions I consider essential to start making some sense of the Historical Villages concept and attractiveness.
What are the Historical Villages
In 1991, the Portuguese government formulated a project called “Program of Historical Villages of Portugal” which aimed to combat the desertification effect felt in the interior of the country, more specifically in the Beira Baixa region.
This desertification process, as it is known, had very harmful effects on the physical and social structures of these areas.
Therefore, it was necessary to find a strategy for the recovery, preservation, and promotion of the referred Beira Baixa region, based on values such as History, Culture, and Heritage.
In this sense, the aforementioned Program was created, including the locations at the time thought to be key to the objectives and to concentrate efforts to achieve better results.
Naturally, many actions have been developed over time, resulting in the integration of new partners, the departure of some, and the consolidation or disregard of places previously included in the list.
Why are Historical Villages interesting, or, otherwise, what can make a tourist go visit the Historical Villages?
With the exponential increase in tourist activity in well-known places, whether in urban or natural contexts, there is also an interest increase for less accessible places to mass tourism.
Places such as Lisbon, Porto, Peneda-Gerês National Park, Algarve, Douro Valley, Aveiro, Coimbra, Sintra, and some others, are currently suffering from great tourist pressure.
All the above-mentioned places are very interesting, I promote visits and I lead visits to all these places. However, it is a fact that they have great tourist pressure and for that, I can mention an interesting fact: of the many and interesting monuments in Portugal, the three most visited monuments are included in the list of places mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Among the localities mentioned above, I will say that some areas of the Douro Valley and the Peneda-Gerês National Park, still do not suffer from over-visitation but they are moving in that direction.
On the other hand, there are other places of great tourist interest but, because they are not known, they are less visited as is the case with Historical Villages.
In the Historical Villages, the historical, cultural, and social heritage the tourist can enjoy with great quality is immense.
Of course, you will also find very interesting and unusual accommodation, such as Casas do Côro. These visits will not lack the region’s own cuisine and high-quality wines.
Interesting places + few visitors + high quality accommodation and meals = excellent experiences.
In the slideshow below, you can find a photo of each place included in the Historical Villages route and I look forward to having you on one of my tours.
If you are interested in walking, the walking trail GR22 is a route connecting most of the Historical Villages. Having several options for the GR22, you can find a possible one here.