Not too far from Porto is the town of Lourosa. Most people, unless they’re really into ornithology, skip it. That however is a mistake. Lourosa actually has a good amount of things to see and do. And here they are…
Things to See and Do in Lourosa, Portugal
Let’s explore the best things to do in Lourosa:
Castelo de Santa Maria da FeiraJust outside of town is the Castle of Santa Maria da Feira, a well maintained fortress that has witnessed a good deal of history. For centuries, the area on which the castle now stands was the bloody border between the then Christian Portuguese and their Moorish Muslim adversaries to the south. For 500 years, this castle was manned for the defense of what is now northern Portugal, first from the Moors but later also from the rival kingdoms of Léon and Castile. Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henrique, visited this castle where it is said he had a little spat with mother, the then Queen Teresa.
As with many medieval castles, Castelo de Santa Maria da Feira today is a local tourist attraction. The place especially comes alive in July when it hosts a huge medieval fair that I’m told is tons of fun.
Lourosa Zoo (a.k.a. Zoo Lourosa)
As mentioned above, Lourosa is loved by people who are into ornithology, i.e. the study of birds. In this regard, the Lourosa Zoo delivers. “Zoo” is a bit of a misnomer and should really be “aviary” since the only creatures you’ll see here are birds. Zoo Lourosa as it’s called locally is the only place of its type in all of Portugal. Macaws, peacocks, flamingos, ostriches, pelicans, herons, toucans, storks, owls and any major type of bird can be found here. In fact, five continents and God knows how many countries are represented within the Zoo’s boundaries.
Museu do Papel de Paços Brandão
You may not have known this, but Lourosa is famous for its paper making. So I guess it’s not surprising that the town has a museum dedicated to the history of paper-making. You may think that this is a boring place, but it’s actually really interesting. The museum covers three centuries of the art of paper-making in Portugal and contains three 19th-century paper mills and a small paper factory, among other cool things. You definitely won’t find a museum like this anywhere else in the country.
Museu de Santa Maria de Lamas
Did you know that the national tree of Portugal is the cork oak? I didn’t. I actually thought it was the olive tree. Why else do so many Portuguese and Brazilians have the name “Oliveira”? Ok, I’m digressing here. The Museu de Santa Maria de Lamas was founded by 20th century cork mogul Henrique Amorim who was a collector of all types of art, porcelain, old weapons and antique furniture. All this and more is on display at this very cool museum.
Of course being a cork industry mogul, there are plenty of displays exhibiting the wonders of this useful material and how it has impacted history and daily life.
Convento dos Lóios
A bit outside of town is the Convento dos Lóios. As the name implies, this is an old convent that now acts as a museum of region’s history. Inside are several rooms with traditional items from the surrounding areas as well as artifacts from nearby Castro de Romariz, a major archaeological site. The highlight is the large 18th-century stone cross in the front of the building.
And that’s pretty much it. Enjoy Lourosa!
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