Pousada de Amares
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- Number of rooms: 32
- Air conditioning
- 24-hour reception
- Outdoor pool (seasonal)
- Parking area
- Safe at reception
- Room service
- Conference room
- Business Centre
- Tennis court
- Airport (64km)
Pousada do Amares - 12th-century Cistercian monastery
Surrounded by lush fields and vineyards where Vinho Verde wine is produced, the quite exceptional Pousada de Amares is situated in the beautiful Minho region of northern Portugal between the historic city of Braga – the religious capital of Portugal – and the stunning Peneda Gerês National Park.
Originally a 12th-century Cistercian monastery, the Pousada de Amares (Santa Maria do Bouro) has been charmingly modernised by the award-winning Portuguese architect, Souto de Moura. The granite facade is typical of the region and the statues of significant characters and kings in Portuguese history, along with the gardens, a historic church and a sacristy showcasing 18th century tiles are of particular note. Royal protection enabled the monastery to flourish and generate wealth and even today you can sense its importance in the local community. An earlier church stood on this site and the façade of the monastery with its 3 large arches sits on the threshhold of this church. Statues of several saints are mounted above. Balconies and 5 statues can be seen in its interior, above the sizeable font and beyond the pillars and arches.
Impressively set into the hillside and standing out from the wooded landscape, you cannot fail to be impressed by the majesty and tranquility of Amares’ historic Pousada. The building today which features Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical and contemporary styles, and a central cloister – with attractive trees and lighting, is a striking setting for lunch or dinner whilst you enjoy the impressive architecture surrounding you. The restaurant inside is just as striking though, with its original, bare stone walls and arches and the imposing stone table which is often the setting of the breakfast buffet. Many of the recipes used here today date back centuries or use ingredients found locally, in addition to more contemporary dishes, offering you a superb dining experience complemented by local wines. Cod is always to be found on Portuguese menus and here is no exception, but other fish, seafood, meat and poultry are also to be enjoyed here.
The Pousada has retained its character of monastic serenity and much of the original construction remains intact. However the bedrooms and bathrooms combine the strong design of the monastery walls and ceilings with some aspects of modernity, allowing guests to experience a comfortable stay in a very dramatic historic building whilst enjoying 21st century comforts.
Amares’ Pousada successfully blends the original architecture with certain aspects of modern décor. It has a particularly inviting swimming pool in the adjoining garden which is open during the peak summer period. It is a delightful, relaxing base from which to explore the many cultural sites of the Minho region.
The Minho region, above the Douro and next to the Peneda Geres National Park, is a fertile area with significant agricultural produce including oranges and grapes, as well as being particularly well known for the young wines of Vinho Verde (both red and white). Religion has heavily influenced the development of this corner of Portugal, notably the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries of the 11th and 12th century and several Baroque churches.
The national park is one of the most popular and well known for outdoor activities, this is great walking country and the Pousada can provide you with details of paths and tracks to enjoy.
The city of Braga – Portugal’s oldest town – is only 16 km away and if you head in this direction, you are well advised to visit the shrines on the hill above which include the Bom Jesus sanctuary and a complex of gardens, steps and statues leading down in the direction of the city. Braga has quite good shopping and colourful architecture as well as lovely cafes and restaurants.
How to get there
From centre of Amares
1 Head south east on N205
2 At the roundabout take 3rd exit onto N308
3 Continue on N308 for 3.9miles to Bouro
4 In the centre of Bouro the Pousada will be on the right.
Geres/Canicada - 24 Km
Guimaraes - 41 Km
Viana do Castelo - 90 Km
Oporto Airport - 64 Km
Region & Cuisine
PORTO & THE NORTH
This for us is the most scenically spectacular of all of Portugal’s five official Regions on the mainland. Bordering the Spanish regions of Galicia to the north and Castilla y León to the east, and with the Atlantic to the west, this is essentially a mountainous region that encompasses two important river systems: the Minho in the north-west forming part of the border with Spain, and further south the Douro running roughly east-west and reaching the Atlantic at the city of Porto. With a mild climate – winter temperatures average 13/14ºC, rising to 26ºC in July and August – this is a region to visit at any time of the year.
Porto is the principal city of the region – it’s Portugal’s second city and gave the country its name. Only an hour and a half or so from the UK by air, Porto is rapidly becoming one of the most popular ‘city break’ destinations for visitors from this country, and for good reason. Most of the historic quarter can comfortably be explored on foot, and a spectacular view of the city and of Vila Nova de Gaia (Gaia for short) on the other side of the Douro can be seen from the splendid Romanesque-Gothic cathedral in the old quarter. Another, more leisurely, way of seeing both Porto and Gaia is by taking a trip on one of the river boats that run between the eastern edge of the city and the point at which the Douro enters the Atlantic.
No mention of Porto is complete without a reference to the most famous product of this region, port wine. Most of the major producers have their cellars across the river in Gaia: here the wine, produced on the estates up-river in and around the Douro Valley, is aged before being shipped to markets throughout the world, and a visit to one of these cellars followed by a tasting of a few varieties is absolutely recommended. Moored in Gaia are the original ‘Rabelo’ boats which were used to transport the wine down from the estates. Nowadays, modern cruise vessels carry passengers up into the Douro Valley, and beyond as far as Spain, for trips of one day to a week.
North of Porto is the ‘Costa Verde’, running up to the River Minho and the Spanish border. The principal town on this coast is the elegant resort of Viana do Castelo, famous throughout Portugal for its ‘Fiesta of Fiestas’ on the third weekend of August,while further north and a few miles inland, on the banks of the Minho and with glorious views across the river to Spain, is the little town of Vila Nova de Cerveira and its charming Pousada.
Other notable towns in the region are Braga, founded by the Celts in 300 BC and an important Roman administrative centre, and Guimarães, a medieval town known as the birthplace of the Portuguese nation and with a magnificently well-preserved historic centre. And in the mountainous ‘Tras-os-Montes’ in the north-west, the historic towns of Chaves and Bragança stand out.
But a major attraction of this beautiful region of Portugal has to be its outstanding scenery. To appreciate this to the full you really need a car and a touring holiday of a week or so, starting and finishing in Porto and staying at several Pousadas en route, will provide a perfect introduction to the region. We would certainly suggest staying a night or two in Porto itself and an ideal route would include the highly-recommended Pousadas at Vila Nova de Cerveira, Amares (near the exceptionally beautiful Peneda-Gerês National Park), Guimarães, Alijó and/or Mesão Frio in the Douro Valley area, the latter with quite magnificent views of the river valley itself, then back to Porto.
The cuisine of the region naturally includes fish of the highest quality along the coastal stretch (including lampreys, a speciality of Vilanova de Cerveira) and inevitably ‘bacalhau’ (codfish), for which there are either 365 or 1,001 methods of preparation – whoever you believe – throughout Portugal. A very popular local speciality is ‘caldo verde’, a green cabbage and spicy sausage soup; rich meaty stews in the mountainous north-west, and everywhere a profusion of sweet desserts, many of them almond based, cakes and pastries. This is ‘vinho verde’ territory so this light, white wine is found throughout the region, while several excellent red wines are produced in the area of the Douro. And, of course, there is always port.......
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Pousadas of Portugal:
Children: Generally the cost of an extra bed for a child under 13 years is free (when sharing a twin/double room with 2 parents).
Half-board: Most Pousadas offer a varied 3-course 'Table d'Hote' menu from £27 per person excluding drinks, and from £36 for their Pousadas in Cascais, Porto and Lisbon.
An extensive 'a la carte' selection is available at all Pousadas, these menus change seasonally.
Pestana Hotels and Resorts:
Children: Prices for extra beds for one or more children will be displayed at best rate available for each room type with capacity for additional beds.
Half-board: Most Pestana hotels offer 'a la carte' and buffet dining options.