To speak of the Douro, it is not just talking about a river or a region. It’s much more than that … it’s telling all of its history and its people, which make it so special.
Getting to know the Douro is not only about visiting the region, it is a trip to discover a unique place with a history, culture and unique people.
There are several explanations for the origin of the name “Douro”. A legend tells that it was customary to see small shiny scrolls that were discovered to be of gold. There are those who say that the name is due to the muddy color of the river waters, as a result of the large amounts of debris that the drags dragged down the slopes and that, because they were bright yellow, gave it a gold color. But there are still those who argue that this name derives from the Latin «Durius», that is, «Hard», due to the hardness of its tortuous contours of high and rocky escarpments.
The river Douro is born in the Sierra de Urbión, in the north of Spain, at about 2000 meters of altitude. It is the second largest river in Portugal with a total length of 927 km; In Portuguese territory, this river is only 210 km long and is navigable along this route, thanks to the five dams that are now also an attraction due to its unevenness. The Carrapatelo Dam has a water level difference of 35 meters, one of the largest gaps in Europe.
It was this river, once very narrow and dangerous, that brought prosperity to the region, since it was through it that the precious nectar was transported, Port Wine. In centuries past this river represented a challenge and a danger for those who sailed there. It was filled with strong currents and submerged socks. At that time, only a small wooden boat – the Rabelo – was able to sail in these waters and transport the wine from the Douro Valley to the mouth, on whose banks are the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.