Valley of Heritages

mapa1The Côa River meanders across fertile plains and rocky slopes, tracing its path towards Douro. It reveals to us the history of populations who had lived here for millennia. The etymological origin of the term 'Côa' is related to the latin word cuda (brook), a small riverbed of an admitted importance. For several decades, the Côa defined the border between the kingdoms of Portugal and Leão.

Traces of human occupation, such as the rock art carved in the Côa banks, point to the existence of nomadic communities who inhabited this valley more than 20.000 years ago. They were succeeded by many other human groups who fought for the land and left their signs in the form of a built heritage: in castles, walls and fortresses.

It is plausible that the natural conditions of this region were the cause for the coming of these populations. Although the final section of Côa is characterized by an hilly, rocky and deep valley, unfriendly for humans (but ideal for rupicolous birds to nidify), the southern territory has large, flat and fertile banks, beneficial for agriculture and herding. Remains of these activities, of vital importance to the region until mid- 20th century and being retaken nowadays on a small scale, can be found in many museums along the Côa.

An old human presence has been shaping the landscape across generations, transforming the use of the soil and directly affecting the local fauna and flora. Nevertheless, Côa is home to a rich biodiversity, which justifies the existence of two protected areas in the valley, both created with the goal of preserving theses habitats and its wild and native species.

A Valley of Heritages to be found.

Photos by João Cosme
Ilustration by Filipa Santos

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