12. Jun, 2017

Monção by the Minho river, North of Portugal

My father was born in Monção by the Minho river and in front of another small and fortified Spanish town: Salvaterra do Miño. His great grandfather was a Galician from a small village called As Neves around 10km from Salvaterra do Miño. He was a cattle trader that used to carry out his business between Monção and the neighboring Galician villages. Due to his life of border crossing activities between the two countries,  to carry out his business, he had a wife in Monçao and another one in As Neves. From these two known relationships he had 5 sons in Monção and 3 daughters in As Neves. A long time ago my father introduced me to some of the Galician blood relatives, but due to my long absence from the area I sadly lost the contact with them. About 8 years ago I recovered the family house ( where my father was born) and reconstructed it. Since then I’ve been enjoying the summer holidays at my house in Monçao. This area is  full of small charming farm houses rected from big blocks of stone, from the nearbu quarries, most of them fortified, and with a peaceful atmosphere. Today, I’m going to describe Monçao’s, its favorite dishes and Alvarinho wine.

This fortified village on the bank of the River Minho, home to spas and the Alvarinho wine, was once the backdrop to the many battles between the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile. Its Sueve name Orosion was translated to Latin as Mons Sanctus that subsequently evolved into the Portuguese Monção. In 1291, Portuguese king Afonso III granted it a royal charter and in 1306, king Dinis ordered the construction of the old defensive castle. Its walls still welcome the visitor. Looking out over the river Minho, with its appealing terraces and belvederes, such as the Neris esplanade, it would be hard to imagine that this was the scene of ferocious combat in the battles between the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile. Not to mention that such combat would draw out the great bravery of three women: Deuladeu Martins, Mariana de Lencastre and Helena Peres. Now, memories of the good and the bad are relived in the charming popular traditions of the Coca Festival, celebrated every year on Corpus Christi Thursday.