Douro river Portugal.
“Doiro, the river and the region, are without a doubt our most significant natural inheritance.
No other river in our country flows on a harder bed, encounters tougher obstacles or struggles more on its journey” … says Miguel Torga (1907-1995), Portugal’s renowned writer and poet, in his beautiful book Portugal.
The Douro river Portugal flows all the way to Oporto, Portugal’s northern capital, at the river mouth, from its source in the Urbión Mountain in Spain.
For 112 km it makes a natural border between Spain and Portugal.
This isolated region of narrow canyons is now the International Douro Natural Park.
Douro river Portugal It is the second longest river, the third in the Iberian Peninsula and the Douro basin spreads over almost a fifth of Portuguese territory.
The word Douro most likely derives from the Latin word durius, duro in Portuguese, meaning tough or hard.
It may also come from the Celtic root dubro, meaning water.
Some believe it comes from de ouro, which means golden or of gold, as in ancient times tiny pieces of gold rolled down the hills into the river and glittered in the waters.
In 61 BC, Julius Caesar literally struck gold when he was appointed governor of Lusitania, a Roman province at the time and today’s central Portugal and part of Spain.
For two years he kept thousands of men working in the gold mines on the steep banks of the Douro river Portugal.
As for tough and rough, before five dams were built in the fifties and early sixties to generate hydroelectric power, the Douro river Portugal was looked upon as an untameable beast, with its rapids, dangerous currents and big rocks.
Today you can sit back in one of the many cruise ships that navigate safely up and down the Douro river Portugal and enjoy the stunning view of well cared for vineyards, planted on the harsh, rugged mountains as well as charming farmhouses.
This has been wine country since the Romans planted the first vines over two thousand years ago and the Alto Douro (Northwest) region has been a World Heritage site since 2001, for, according to UNESCO, “the long tradition of viticulture in Alto Douro has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and and economic evolution.”
But it was a special kind of fortified wine, known as Port, that brought international attention to the Douro region.
It all started 300 years ago when on-going conflicts between England and France made it difficult for British merchants to import the much loved French wines.