How did I go to Arouca for the first time?
Arouca keeps out of my frequent ways and I went there because… I did.
I knew by name its convent, and being close, I went to see it.
But it was all.
Years later I returned to walk the “Passadiços do Paiva”, and this time I saw Arouca and the convent.
The ex-libris of the city is the convent, more than one thousand years old, and with a story of a princess who became a nun, and whose body was found uncorrupted 300 years after her death.
If you want to know the story, you better stop there.
It’s a nice small town, in the center of Portugal, a good stop if you decide to wander in search of the old and traditional Portugal.
Second visit to the convent
This time, given time, it was possible to devote all the attention it deserves to the convent. Older than Portugal, as its construction began in the 10th century, it was occupied by nuns until its extinction as a result of the liberal revolution in the 19th century. The current architecture is the result of successive restoration interventions throughout its thousand years of existence.
Adjacent to the convent there is now a large and pleasant well-gardened park.
In the center of the city, opposite the convent, a large square was adapted to function as an auditorium. It is not surprising that structures are often erected there that facilitate shows and damage photos.
At the top of a long avenue, in a prominent position, is the large and modern City Hall building.
St. Anthony chapel
Next to the City Hall, a small chapel stands out, about which I could only read that it is dedicated to Saint Anthony.
Arriving in the city from Passadiços, I almost forgot to mention them, in my eagerness to know and explain… the rest.
The truth is that I don’t think I’m mistaken if I say that nowadays the Passadiços do Paiva attract more visitors than the convent.
Nuns and sweets
Where history records the existence of nuns, it is common to emerge a tradition of very succulent and… sweet confectionery, usually called “Conventional Sweets”. Arouca fulfills this tradition well, and it is easy to find good stores in the city center.
Passadiços do Paiva
The walkways can be traveled in both directions (or round trip, for a total of more than 17 km). The ticket office is located on the route, just over a kilometer from the entrance to Areínho. There is no support along the walkways, only at the ends there is a small bar with limited service. The most interesting points are found in the middle of the route.
Site: Passadiços do Paiva
The most favorable direction will be departing from Areinho, which is 60 meters higher than Espiunca, at the other end. The best river beach is in Areínho, and the most demanding section is right at the beginning, with most of the rest going downhill.
In the middle of the route there is a suspension bridge that provides some emotion when crossing… to nowhere. No problem, the adventure is double, with the need to return to the track.
On warmer days, the difficulties of the route can be alleviated with a dip in the cool waters of the river. At both ends, and in the middle of the route, there are river beaches, without any equipment but with a paradisiacal aspect.
A secret – Saving efforts
The pleasant walk along the walkways is made difficult by the need to climb about 100 meters at about 2 km from one of the ends.
There is a solution known by the locals: At the top of this climb is the ticket office, with discreet access for cars, but no parking. The trick is to leave your car in the exit parking lot, and take a taxi to that point, saving you the effort of going uphill.
You’ll also save a few cents, as the taxi journey between extremes (indispensable, unless you risk the 16 km round trip on foot) is shorter.
This trick was explained by the taxi driver that took me from one end to the other. He is named Joaquim Barbosa, and let me his phone numbers, that may be useful to you – 913299128 or 963890642.
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