Viseu Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
Located in "Beira Alta" (Central Region of Portugal-507,2 Km2), a very large plateau of ever changing beautiful landscapes, Viseu is half way between the Ocean and the Spanish border. Surrounded by high mountains - Leomil, Montemuro, Lapa, Arada, Estrela and Caramulo - the tops of which are covered with thick layers of snow in Winter time, the district is crossed by a rich network of rivers and streamlets - "Mondego", "Vouga", "Paiva", "Mel", "Pavia"...The climate of the region is characterized by a mean maximum temperature of 28.4ºc, a mean minimum temperature of 2.1ºc, mean rainfall levels of 1230 mm3, and an annual mean temperature of 13ºc. Although there are several micro-climates throughout the region, winters are usually cold and wet and summers hot and dry. But you can enjoy sunny and fairly warm days in February and March. With 93501 inhabitants, a predominant tertiary sector (67.78% of the resident working population) and a growing secondary sector (27.48% - 2001 Census data), Viseu has undergone a considerable economic growth, especially in the areas of telecommunications, industry, trade and education. Viseu, an Ancient City This territory has been inhabited since the pre-historical period. Down through the centuries the most diverse peoples have settled here and, in one way or another, all of them have left their mark, some of which we still easily recognize. Celts, Lusitanians, Romans, Goths and Moors are among those many who peopled our lands. Down through history, Viseu has shared and reflected the birth, the crises and the glories of this country. From generation to generation, the city has inherited several precious monuments: "Cava de Viriato", from the Roman period, the Cathedral, from the Middle Ages, the 16th century windows of "Manueline" style, the baroque town-halls and churches, etc. A cultural heritage of internationally recognized value. The Natural Patrimony The beauty of the rivers of this region and the variety of the plant life of its hillsides, as well as the splendour of its granite massifs, all make for unique landscapes. There are several belvederes, or simply high places from where you can admire all the beauty ("Monte de Santa Luzia", "Senhora do Castelo", Miradoiro do Picoto"...). Scattered throughout the city, vast green spaces honour the epithet of "Cidade Jardim" (Garden City). From "Parque Aquilino Ribeiro", walking through "Jardim das Mães", "Jardim de Santo António", "Fontelo", down to"Cava de Viriato" there is a remarkable diversity of plant and tree species, some of them being considered of public interest. Craftsmanship Basketry, pottery, weaving, embroidery, forged iron, carpentry and furniture, paper flowers are some examples of the craftsmanship of this region. There are still several workshops where you can admire or even buy these precious objects. At "Casa da Ribeira", a Foundation for the protection of craftsmanship, you can watch craftspersons working and selling their production. Food and Drink There are almost endless cuisine specialties and delicacies you can taste in the region - from roast kid and veal to smoked ham, from pork products to marinated trouts. Also famous are some dessert specialties, such as "doce de ovos", "pão-de-ló", "pastéis de Vouzela", "bolo podre", "queijo da Serra"... The wine production of the region is of high quality and no one should leave Viseu without tasting "Vinho do Dão" (red and white full-bodied Dão wine) and "Vinho de Lafões" (Lafões young wine - "vinho verde"). No one should leave Portugal without tasting "Vinho do Porto" (Port wine), the richest crop North of the district. Culture and Entertainment There are four museums in Viseu: "Museu de Grão Vasco" (16th century art/paintings; religious art; furniture; goldsmith's arts, etc.); "Museu de Arte Sacra" (images, priestly garments, liturgic symbols); "Casa Museu Almeida Moreira" (furniture, pottery, paintings); and "Sala Dr. José Coelho" (archaeology). There are also two public libraries and the city organizes an outdoors book fair every year (in "Parque Aquilino Ribeiro"). In this city you can find several Sports Centres - "Palácio dos Desportos", "Fontelo", "Inatel" ... - where you can practise football, swimming, tennis, roller-skating, karate, ice-skating, fencing, body-building, among others. For those who like horse riding, there is always the possibility of going to the Riding Centre in Farminhão, a small village in the neighbourhood. In this village is also located the Montebelo Golf Course, where it is possible to attend individual/group lessons. Viseu has six cinemas, one of them being also used as an auditorium for theatre. For those who enjoy going to the theatre there is "Teatro Viriato". Plays, music, ballet, puppets, exhibitions, as well as pedagogical ateliers, are part of its weekly activity. Spread all over the city and its surroundings, you can find several bars and some discos where live music shows, fashion parades, contests , parties, etc. are often organized. One of the biggest discos of the country is located in the city - "The Day After" - which includes Karting and mini-golf areas. In "Fontelo" you can find a State Youth Centre - "Instituto da Juventude" - which organizes cultural / entertainment activities such as art exhibitions, theatre, musical shows, etc. Finally, in August/September, the city has a fair - "Feira de S. Mateus" - famous all over the country, which has been organized since the Middle Ages (1392). This is a large area where the most diverse products are exhibited and sold (from handicraft to furniture, from cars to wine), where cultural, artistic, sporting and social events have a special place (conferences, music concerts, sports competitions, art exhibitions, photography contests, etc.) and where entertainment is all around.