Despite the challenging path to this site, it really is worth it when you finally get there and you will soon find that you don’t want to leave.
Arriving at the small village of Castro Laboreiro, we were trying to find the Castle that we had seen on Google before the journey. We tried to find the castle using GPS, but without success. So we decided to leave the GPS and venture on a climb that seemed to be leading to nowhere. After a climb of about 1,000 metres we were more than happy to find the castle.
The landscape of northern Portugal at Castro Laboreiro
When we finally arrived, peace is one of the feelings that we are able to feel sitting on one of the rocks looking over the view. Ironically, this place during the conflicts with Spain at the time when there was a monarchy in Portugal (many years ago), received many people who had been arrested and who didn’t want to go to war and, therefore, were held captive in this castle.
After many hours of driving, many hours walking and a general feeling of tiredness that you usually feel on holiday, the overwhelming feeling of being at the castle was one of peace and healing. This really is a place that enchants me.
I stayed to watch the sunset and then when the sun went down it was time for me to leave, however I would have happily stayed for longer, it’s an incredible place where you can see the diversity of rocks- on the left side and on the right side - and the small village some 1,000 metres below, seems even smaller.
The houses have the smell of tradition and are made of stone with similar, almost equal, designs. A man I approached on the street explained to me that nowadays nobody wants to live there, because there are no jobs in the village which has made it unattractive for young people. Many of the houses are for holidays and the rest occupied by the elderly.
How to get there?
Castro Laboreiro is located inside the Peneda-Gerês National Park, these amazing ruins are located in the middle of the mountainous Peneda-Gerês system. In my case, I drove through Porto, towards Viana de Castelo, having passed through Braga, everything on the national road, so we avoided tolls and took the opportunity to visit new cities and small villages.
After arriving in Valença, the northern city of the country, we went around the border on the N101 and N201. Along the way, we passed Monção and other parishes that also have wineries, so I would advise travellers to take the opportunity to taste the famous wines of the Alvarinho variety, there are many farms in this area and some stores that sell wines on the side of the road.
What’s the history of this castle?
One day, this castle was an emblematic military monument due to the geographical location open to the Galician highlands, which helped it to have importance in the framework of Portuguese military history.
Its origin is unknown. However, Castro Laboreiro castle always has a special importance to the active defense of the territory because of its strategic location, having worked as a prison once.
Just one parting piece of advice! Leave all your bags in the car, taking only some water and a camera to take some pictures, the climb means you will be pleased of this advice when you reach the top. Also, having already been to Castro Laboreiro, take the opportunity to explore the area and some of the beautiful old bridges you can find.