Discovering Freixo de Espada à Cinta: What to See and Do

Igreja Matriz de Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
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2024-05-29

Here is a detailed itinerary with everything to visit and do in Freixo de Espada à Cinta in one day!

Freixo de Espada à Cinta is a village in the district of Bragança, located in the north of Portugal.

It is considered the most Manueline village in Portugal due to the number of buildings with these architectural features.

Additionally, almost all the parishes in this municipality are part of the Douro International Natural Park, which is great news for those who appreciate tranquility and natural beauty.

In summary, in Freixo de Espada à Cinta you can see a village center with historic houses, an imposing main church, a castle, and, of course, the famous ash tree.

You can also discover a route of viewpoints and river beaches that promise to refresh hot summer days.

As you can see, there are many reasons to include Freixo de Espada à Cinta in your next itinerary in Trás-os-Montes!

What to visit and do in Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Castelo e Torre do Galo em Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Castle and Tower of the Rooster (Torre do Galo) in Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Grande Rota do Rouro Internacional e do Douro Vinheteiro (mapa).
Great Route of the International Douro and the Vinheteiro Douro (map).

Viewing the Freixo (Ash Tree) with the sword at its side

Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

The ash tree in the center of the village is a striking sight, standing 12 meters tall. It is believed to be between 500 and 550 years old!

This ash tree is depicted in a document by Duarte de Armas, dated 1517, and is also known as the Ash Tree of Duarte d’Armas.

The ash tree is an admirable specimen, and one of its curiosities is the sword embedded in its trunk. This peculiar feature has an associated legend worth knowing.

According to the legend, the sword was left by a knight who, passing through the village, thrust it into the ash tree’s trunk. The knight’s motive is unknown, but the sword remained and, over time, became part of the tree.

The ash tree is more than just a tree. It is a cultural and historical landmark, a meeting point for locals, and a place of interest for visitors. Its grandeur and longevity make it one of the village’s most unique attractions.

Beyond admiring the ash tree, we suggest exploring the surroundings. The locals are friendly and enjoy sharing stories and legends.

So, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the ash tree and learn about its associated legend.

Visit the Castle and the Tower of the Rooster (Torre do Galo)

O que fazer em Freixo de Espada à Cinta: ver o castelo e a Torre do Galo.
What to do in Freixo de Espada à Cinta: see the castle and the Tower of the Rooster.

The castle of Freixo de Espada à Cinta is one of the oldest in Trás-os-Montes. In fact, there are documents from the 12th century that reference this historic building.

This castle has a long history and was classified as a National Monument in 1919. Its historical and architectural importance makes it an unmissable point of interest in the village.

Next to the castle stands the impressive Tower of the Rooster, also known as the Clock Tower. This tower is 25 meters tall and is one of the most striking structures in the region.

The Tower of the Rooster gets its name from an iron rooster at the top, functioning as a weather vane. Additionally, locals call this tower the Clock Tower because it has an old clock that still tells the time.

Visit the Church of Freixo (Igreja Matriz)

Igreja matriz do Freixo.
Igreja Matriz do Freixo.

The Church of the Matriz in Freixo de Espada à Cinta is a 16th-century monument that deserves a close visit. Its façade features an imposing Manueline portal, which is a true masterpiece of architecture.

Upon entering, the grandeur of the church is immediately visible. The 16th-century paintings adorning the interior are impressive and depict various biblical scenes. Among them, you can appreciate the Flight into Egypt, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and the Passion of Christ.

These works of art not only beautify the church but also tell sacred stories that have been admired for centuries. Each painting is rich in details and colors, reflecting the mastery of the artists of that time.

Including the Church of the Matriz on your list of things to see in Freixo de Espada à Cinta is well worth it.

See the Pillory

Pelourinho manuelino de Freixo.
Manueline Pillory of Freixo.

The Manueline Pillory of Freixo de Espada à Cinta is one of the most emblematic monuments in the village. Located next to the Town Hall building, this pillory is an important piece of local history.

This monument was classified as a National Monument in 1922, reflecting its cultural and historical significance. The Manueline style, characterized by its rich details and ornaments, is evident in its construction.

The Pillory served as a symbol of municipal authority and was used for the administration of justice.

When visiting the pillory, you can admire its stone-carved structure, with motifs typical of the Manueline period. The column, crowned by an ornate capital, stands out for its elegance and artistic precision.

Finding the Manueline Windows (Janelas Manuelinas)

Património manuelino.
Manueline heritage.

The village of Freixo de Espada à Cinta boasts a remarkable collection of Manueline windows, true architectural treasures that can be discovered during a stroll through the historic center.

The best part? There’s no need to buy a ticket to admire these precious windows.

Start your walk at the magnificent portal of the Igreja Matriz. This example of Manueline architecture is an excellent starting point. From here, let yourself wander through the village streets, where your treasure hunt consists of finding these unique windows.

The Manueline windows of Freixo de Espada à Cinta are renowned for their beauty and intricate details. With stone-carved ornaments, they feature decorative motifs that include elements of nature, religious symbols, and mythological figures.

As you walk through the streets, pay attention to the facades of the old manor houses. Many of them have these windows, which are true works of art. The diversity of styles and patterns makes the search even more interesting, as each window is unique.

The hunt for Manueline windows is an opportunity to explore the village in a different way.

In addition to the windows, take the time to appreciate other architectural details of the old buildings, such as doors, balconies, and tiles. The combination of all these elements makes Freixo de Espada à Cinta a true open-air museum.

Igreja Matriz de Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Igreja Matriz in Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

Discover the Mazouco Rock Engravings

The Mazouco rock engravings are a set of two schist panels located near Freixo de Espada à Cinta. The most significant depiction is the Mazouco Horse, a figure measuring 62 cm in length. Some scholars even suggest that this could be the first outdoor engraving in Europe.

This archaeological site is an example of rock art and has been classified as a Public Interest Property. The engravings were created by prehistoric peoples who left a mark here, not only of their artistic abilities but also of their way of life.

As mentioned, the Mazouco Horse is the main attraction of this collection. The figure is intricately and precisely carved, showcasing the talent of ancient artists.

The site is easily accessible and can be quickly included in your itinerary of what to do and see in Freixo de Espada à Cinta. Upon arrival, you will see that it is possible to explore and appreciate the engravings in just a few minutes.

Swim and Boat at Congida River Beach

Praia fluvial da Congida
River beach of Congida.
Cais de embarque na praia fluvial da Congida
Embarkation dock at the river beach of Congida.

Congida River Beach

The Congida River Beach, located on the outskirts of Freixo de Espada à Cinta, is a place of exceptional beauty!

There is a leisure area and a protected zone in the Douro River where swimmers can enjoy the waters safely.

So, if you visit the region in summer, Congida River Beach should be on your list of must-visit places in Freixo de Espada à Cinta!

Explore the Douro International Natural Park

Miradouro de Penedo Durão.
Penedo Durão viewpoint.

Explore the Douro International Natural Park

The Douro International Natural Park is a protected area that spans the municipalities of Mogadouro, Miranda do Douro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta, and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.

This park is of great ecological importance and offers visitors a unique experience of contact with nature.

Most of Freixo de Espada à Cinta’s parishes are within the park’s boundaries. The diversity of fauna and flora is a major attraction, with several protected species that can be observed in their natural habitat.

One of the most beautiful areas of the park, in my opinion, is the area near the Penedo Durão viewpoint. This viewpoint offers spectacular views over the Douro River and its steep banks.

Penedo Durão Viewpoint is also an excellent spot for birdwatching. The region is home to various birds of prey, such as the golden eagle and the griffon vulture, which can be seen soaring in the skies.

For hiking enthusiasts like me, the Douro International Natural Park offers several trails and walking routes. So, put on your sneakers and set off to explore the trails in Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

Follow the Viewpoints Route in Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Rota do Penedo Durão (mapa).
Penedo Durão Route (map).
Penedo Durão (Poiares).
Map of Penedo Durão (Poiares).
Miradouro de Penedo Durão.
Penedo Durão viewpoint.

This Transmontana village is rich in viewpoints, so make sure to include some in your itinerary.

Below you will find a map with the main viewpoints in the municipality, organized from south to north.

This is not an “official” route; we have organized them for your convenience.

Remember that each viewpoint is unique, so try to fit in as many as you can during your trip.

We suggest starting with the Miradouro das Alminhas, followed by the Miradouro de Penedo Durão, the Miradouro da Capela de Nossa Senhora dos Montes Ermos, the Miradouro do Colado, the Miradouro do Carrascalinho, and finally, the Miradouro da Cruzinha.

The Legend of the Ash Tree of Espada à Cinta

Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Freixo Duarte de Armas. A lenda do Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
Freixo Duarte de Armas. The Legend of the Ash Tree of Espada à Cinta.

According to the legend, Dom Dinis, while passing through this land, rested in the shade of an ash tree where he thrust his sword.

Now, during his sleep, the spirit of the tree indicated to him the strategy for the future kingdom of Portugal, so when the king awoke, he decided to name the land Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

This is the legend we like the most, however, there are other legends such as that of a noble Goth named “Espadacinta” who gave the village its name.

One-day Itinerary in Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Praia fluvial da Congida
River Beach of Congida.

If you only have one day to visit the village, you’ll have to forgo some activities, such as hiking trails or walking routes in the International Douro International Park.

So, we suggest starting the day by visiting the historic center with its famous Manueline windows, the castle, and the Main Church.

Then, head to the river beach of Congida for swims in the Douro River, boat rides, or simply to have a picnic.

I believe you’ll enjoy spending time at the beach, so you have two options: either spend more time at the beach and visit only one viewpoint, or spend less time at the beach and visit more viewpoints.

The decision is yours, so if you prefer to visit only one viewpoint, we recommend choosing Penedo Durão Viewpoint, which is 11 km from Congida.

On the other hand, if you prefer viewpoints, check out the itinerary we prepared for you a few lines earlier.

Accommodation in Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Moradias Douro Internacional
Moradias Douro Internacional (Douro Internacional Villas).

If you can stay a few days in the region, there’s no need to rush to see and visit everything.

Below is a link for you to choose where to stay in Freixo de Espada à Cinta, but we suggest you take a look at the Douro Internacional Villas, located at the Congida River Beach.

Book your hotel

Everything you need to know before visiting Freixo de Espada à Cinta

Freixo de Espada à Cinta, Portugal on YouTube. Subscribe to the YouTube channel for more travel videos!

Why is it called Freixo de Espada à Cinta?

The name of the village is related to a local legend dating back to the 14th century. In it, a knight coming from war rested by tying his sword to an ash tree near the church.

Some say it was D. Dinis who placed the sword by the ash tree, giving it the name. Although there are no certainties, it seems certain that this tree had already been the inspiration for naming the place.

What are the inhabitants of Freixo de Espada à Cinta called?

The inhabitants of Freixo de Espada à Cinta are called “freixenistas”. This designation derives from the name of the village, located in the district of Bragança, in Trás-os-Montes.

Which river flows through Freixo de Espada à Cinta?

The Douro River flows about 4 km from the center of the village of Freixo.

Map and how to get to Freixo de Espada à Cinta

If your starting point is the city of Porto, then expect a journey of 236 km.

On the other hand, if you are in Bragança, the route via IP2 is 144 km, while from Lisbon the distance is 447 km.

Either way, we have included a map so you can check the best way to get to Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

From Porto

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