Douro map & guide to the Douro region of Portugal
The Douro region is an astonishing landscape, thanks greatly to centuries of unceasing hard work and loving care. The result is a wonderful and carefully manicured landscape through which meanders the limpid Douro River; a true pleasure to all senses!
Little can prepare one for its majesty. The calm, sinuous river is trapped between steep mountainsides as far as one can see. The soft hills show row upon row of terraces cultivated with thousands of vines, at times hundreds high, each following the curves of the mountain and forming breathtaking patterns.
When one approaches the terraces and finds that a single terrace can consist of hundreds of thousands of chips of shale packed on each other, and that the terrace can be so narrow as to barely allow a single row of vines to be planted on it, the amount of effort exerted for what seems a minimal reward is humbling. Even more so when one learns that the very soil in which the vine grows has been produced by manually crushing rock.
In a time when human intervention is almost invariably associated with the destruction of nature, it is gratifying to experience a place where this intervention has been creative. And not only has a new landscape been created, but this landscape has been imbued with an astonishing ability to in turn create. For its whole purpose is to allow another magical interaction between man and nature: the making of wine.
This is a spectacular destination and for anyone with an interest in wine it is even more interesting. Recent investments in infrastructure mean that it has never been so easy to visit as it is now; areas that took an entire day to reach only a few decades ago are now only hours away by modern roads. And yet, due to its geography, it is still an isolated and undisturbed region, the sense of discovery adding to the enjoyment of visiting it.
And never before has it been possible to visit the Douro in such comfort and luxury. Massive investments in especially the top level of the hospitality industry mean that one need no longer sacrifice creature comforts to experience the wonders of the region. Some hotels and restaurants are so special as to in themselves warrant a visit. They offer inimitable style and facilities in an unparalleled setting and unique gastronomy perfectly paired to the wine. Add charming boat and steam train trips and visits to historic buildings, wine estates and charming villages and you have a recipe for a unique and unforgettable holiday.
For a map of the Douro, click the tab, top right on the menu bar above.