Baiona to Viana do Castelo
We left Baiona in bright sunshine and set our course for our first port in Portugal, Viana do Castelo! We had a very pleasant sail there passing into Portugal three hours into our journey and arrived on the waiting pontoon after a total of 38.5 nautical miles which took us six and three quarter hours!
The pontoon was quite full and so we rafted up to an Irish boat with an incredibly friendly crew! We had hardly finished securing Musetta before we found ourselves aboard their boat for a welcome drink and true to form we were regaled with hilarious story after hilarious story, they were great fun!!
25th September – Out and about in Viana do Castelo!
The Irish boat left fairly promptly and so we took their place alongside and decided that we were absolutely fine there, no need to go into the marina where we would be subject to the restrictions of a swing bridge!!
First, thanks to our Irish hosts of the previous evening we were informed that we needed to pay our ‘light dues’ for the princely sum of €2 at the offices of the Maritime Police! A necessary and lengthy process which must done at your first port of entry into Portugal! The fines for not doing so are hefty and it could involve impounding your boat until paid?! Why wouldn’t you do it for just €2 ?!
The photo above shows why we instantly liked Viana do Castelo! It was all very clean and even though some of the buildings were very old they were all in the best possible condition.
There was so much to see in this lovely port it was difficult to know where to begin, but here goes!
The Eiffel Bridge
This is far as sailing yachts can go! The marina entrance is at the end of the pontoon with the swing bridge in view too.
The bridge, which was unmistakably designed by Gustave Eiffel, was opened in June 1878. It replaced an old wooden bridge and spans 563 metres over the Rio Lima. It carries the railway on the lower level and road traffic on the top. Amazing!
The Gil Eannes Ship
We made our way along the harbour front, marvelling at the openness of the promenade and the pretty landscaping along the way. We came upon the Gil Eannes ship which we had spotted in an inner dock on our way into the port the previous day.
She was built in Viana do Castelo in 1955 expressly to support the Portuguese cod-fishing fleet in Newfoundland and Greenland. Her main purpose was to provide the fishermen with medical support but she was also a supply ship, an icebreaker, a mail ship, a tug and provided the fishermen with food, nets, bait and fuel. She was returned to Viana in 1998 in need of much TLC to restore her to her former glory! She is now a museum and we spent a fascinating time looking round her wards, operating theatres, kitchens and much more, a living memory and she does indeed look majestic alongside in the dock.
We walked into the old quarter and we loved it! There were some really beautiful buildings, cathedrals and squares depicted below showing the variety of architectural styles which all blended in with their fellow buildings in a very sympathetic way.
These three buildings are very different in style from each other but seem to blend seamlessly into one another and the surroundings.
Built in the 15th century Romanesque architecture but showing a strong Gothic influence. There were three archivolts, decorated arches, over an entrance which in this case were supported by six sculptures depicting six apostles, the Saints Peter, Paul, John, Bartholomew, Jack and Andrew.
The Basilica of Santa Luzia
……formerly known as The Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we had been told was a ‘must visit’ site! It definitely didn’t disappoint, it was – is – magnificent!
We were very lucky in that the funicular railway was functioning on our visit, it isn’t always apparently!! The line is 650 metres long, the longest funicular railway in the country and with an elevation of 160metres? Alan and I found this a little difficult to believe as it seemed much higher up than that but of course we don’t know exactly where the measurement started from?
The Funicular Railway – at a passing place!
The building of this stunning Basilica started in 1903 but wasn’t completed until 1943. It is designed in the shape of a Greek cross and built in granite and marble, it features some amazing stained glass windows, statues and carvings and is utterly beautiful.
The views from the Basilica were indeed wonderful, especially looking out over the port and the Atlantic coastline stretching ahead!
Having taken the easy route up by rail, we decided to walk down! There was a bit of cross country first through the eucalyptus trees and down to the road! I think we thought it would be more direct? It probably was but it was precipitous and very slippery!! Anyway, we eventually came to the steps which took us back down to the town.
The way down, all those steps!!
We wouldn’t have missed this opportunity to visit the Basilica for the world and were blessed with incredible azure blue skies and hot sunshine too!
At the end of the afternoon we walked a different way back to Musetta and came across the Viana Statue!
The statue is directly in line with the Basilica of Santa Luzia and The Chapel of the Malheiras which it is said is one of the most beautiful examples of Portuguese Rococo architecture!
It was built in 1774 and is again a fine example of the Portuguese rococo style. The female figure is dressed in flowing robes and holds a boat in one arm symbolising the maritime heritage of this beautiful port! The busts on the base of the pedestal symbolise the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and America which represent the ‘four corners of the world’ and it’s sailing and merchant shipping traditions.
26th September ~ our last day in Viana do Castelo
Alan had some work to do so I had a bit of time to look around by myself and to find the restaurant which the secretary in the marina office had recommended to us as being typically Portuguese cuisine. I did find it, it was all the way down by the fishing port….
Perhaps Prince Charles would think it a bit of a carbuncle but actually it was lovely inside and it had a wonderful kitchen!
…..and next to the
The Castelo de Santiago da Barra
….I had to investigate, of course!
It was built in the 15th century in a pentagonal shape, it has a low profile and is the castle which adds the ‘do Castelo’ to the town’s name of Viana. It is still possible to roam around the ramparts, which I did, climbing up and down the various granite steps and into sentry boxes.
The fort protected the town from invasion by the Spanish pirates who wanted to steal from the prosperous port. Nowadays it has been given a new function and name: Centro de Congressos Castelo de Santiago da Barra. It is a conference centre, plus a hotel and tourism school.
Later we walked back to the fishing port and enjoyed a delicious meal in our recommended restaurant! Time then to return to Musetta and prepare for leaving in the morning to go to Porto!
Adeus por agora!
The Portuguese Emblematic Cockerel !