Exploring the Douro Valley. The journey through Port wine country is one of the most pleasant travel experiences in Southern Europe, passing by many of the famous vineyards along the way.
The bustling suburb of Vila Nova da Gaia lies opposite Oporto on the steep south bank of the mighty River Douro. Sitting on top of a pre-Roman fortified hamlet, it was given town status in 1255 by King Afonso III and then bequeathed to the aristocracy in order to counteract the power of the bishops of neighbouring Oporto, who were charging unreasonably high shipping tolls at the time. Gaia today is dominated by the Port wine lodges, with over fifty wine companies based in its narrow, twisting streets. Here, the ageing and blending of most of the world´s supply of Port wine takes place beneath a sea of red roofs emblazoned with some of the most famous names in winemaking.