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River Douro

The forces propelling this region are found in the waters of the Douro river that carry their ancient charm to every part of the region. It is a river of history and journeys that has marked its people just as it has marked the valley it divides.

Rio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroDam of Santa Maria de Aguiar | © Turismo do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroDouro River reaches the town of Peso da Régua | © Douromedia 2010 ContestDam of Régua | © Melanie AntunesRio Douro | © Museu do DouroSun reflected in the River Douro | © Melanie AntunesDouro River runs between hills | © Douromedia 2010 ContestOverlook to the river Douro and the old railway bridge of Peso da Régua | © Douromedia 2010 ContestRio Douro at Peso da Régua | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroBridge over the River Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroTwilight on the River Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do DouroRio Douro | © Museu do Douro

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The source of the Duero (the Spanish name for the Douro) river is found in the Sória province in the Serra de Urbión mountains. As it crosses the border it becomes the Douro and is fed by the waters from the Águeda river and its twin, the Côa river. Over its 850 kilometre stretch it also meets with other rivers, such as the river Tua, the river Sabor, the river Pinhão the river Távora.

Before the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean in Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto, the Douro river passes through various cities: Miranda do Douro, Vila Nova de Foz Côa and Peso da Régua and has seven bridges that link the two sides. The valley slopes that surround the river shimmer in the reflection of these crystal waters that hide many wonders on the riverbed.

Despite the river being wide and shallow at its source, for the rest of its journey it is sloped with tight curves and protruding rocks that make it a strong, and at times, violent river. However, this violent power has been reined in with the construction of several hydroelectric dams that, besides producing electricity, have created calm lakes for sailing.

The Douro waterway stretches for 200 kilometres from the Crestuma-Lever dam to the Pocinho dam. These waters have been navigable since remote times and have been travelled by the Rabelo boats since the 13th century. With the internationalisation of Port Wine, the traffic on the river increased as they carried the barrels of wine to Porto. Nowadays the Rabelo boats are just one of the types of transport that travel the Douro river, carrying tourists. The cruise ships travel further, from Porto to the Douro region and on past the border with Spain.

Birds of prey soar above the waters of the Douro valley diving for food in its dazzling waters. The river does not only sustain the wildlife, but the local people are also often seen fishing or using the water to irrigate their crops. Escalo, fresh water eels, trout, perch, carpe, barbell and blue mussels are just some of the marine species found in the Douro river.

All crops in the valley are sustained by the Douro waters, and its fog caused by evaporation even reaches those at the highest altitudes. The fertile soil and the mild climate create the ideal conditions for all types of cultivation, with wine-production taking priority. The Douro wines owe their unique flavour not only to the human hand, but also to the natural elements in the region, such as the Douro river.

The banks of the Douro are home to the world heritage sites and regions nearby such as the Historic centre of Porto, the historic centre of Guimarães, the Upper Douro Wine-Producing region and the Vale do Côa. Douro is a river that carries its own history, secrets and treasures that belong to both its people and the whole world, as throughout history many different civilisations and nomads from all over have been conquered by its beauty.

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