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Art in the Douro

The Douro region is not simply a land of history, it is also a land of culture and modernity. Although its art is closely bound to the region and its history, it is also open to new and more modern art forms, such as cinema, visual arts and literature.

Exhibition at the Museum of the Douro | © Centro Nacional de Cultura, António CruzArt at the Museum of the Douro | © Centro Nacional de Cultura, António CruzMuseu do Côa | © Centro Nacional de Cultura, António CruzExhibitions at the Museum of the Douro | © Centro Nacional de Cultura, António CruzMuseu do Côa | © Centro Nacional de Cultura, António CruzMemória da Terra exhibition at the Museum of the Douro | © Museu do DouroMemória da Terra exhibition at the Museum of the Douro | © Museu do DouroMemória da Terra exhibition at the Museum of the Douro | © Museu do DouroPoem by Miguel Torga | © Museu do DouroCartaz Douro Film Harvest 2011 | © Douro Film HarvestO Estranho Caso de Angélica | © Douro Film HarvestBuilding of the educational service | © Museu do DouroMuseu do Côa | © José Paulo Ruas

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By opening up to the world, the Douro region opened its doors to a more modern lifestyle, focused on culture and art. Proof of that is the Bienal Internacional de Gravura do Douro (two-yearly international event for open air cave art), internationally acknowledged by people involved in the world of arts. The aim with this event is to display several visual art works in different parts of the region.

Other than these exhibitions, the Museum of the Douro has a permanent exhibition entitled Memória da Terra do Vinho (Memories of the Land of Wine), where you can see art work related to winemaking. In the region there are also several museums, each of them specialising in a certain theme. The Museum of Lamego has several pieces of sacred and decorative art on display, while the Museum of Art and Archaeology of the Vale do Côa includes prehistoric artefacts.

Between the Romanticism (19th century) period and the beginning of the Portuguese aesthetic movement called Saudosismo (20th century), several important writers told about the landscapes of the Douro in their books. The references to the Douro region by Miguel Torga, one of the greatest poets in Portugal, are countless. João de Araújo Correia and Aquilino Ribeiro both wrote about the people of the Douro, while Guerra Junqueiro wrote poems about the golden river. Trindade Coelho, Domingos Monteiro and Pina de Morais are all authors born in the lands of the Douro.

Because of the its unique scenery and dazzling landscapes, the Douro has been a constant character in films for several years. In 1931, film director Manoel de Oliveira directed his first film with the Douro river as background. Originally, the film Douro, Faina Fluvial was a 21-minute silent film and it was restored in 1994, using footage from the first version.

Manoel de Oliveira honoured the lands of the Douro again in 1993 with the film Vale de Abrãao (Abraham Valley), a story based on a novel by Agustina Bessa-Luís. The film was shot in Samodães, one of the parishes of the municipality of Lamego, in a quinta which is now the home to the Aquapura Douro Valley hotel. The film-maker passed down his admiration and passion for the Douro to his students, who also shot the film O Estranho Caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica) in the Douro region.

The region is also the host of the Douro Film Harvest Festival since 2009. Hosting film premieres and special screenings, and welcoming national and international film-makers, the Douro Film Harvest Festival pays tribute to some of the greatest names of the movie industry.

The Douro will always be the image of a land that is organically bound to its roots and traditions, a land that is capable of combining past and present, aggregating past glories and the joviality of contemporary art.

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