The Sanctuary of Santa Luzia is the ideal place for those who appreciate Romanesque-Byzantine architecture. The Sanctuary, which was completed in 1943, is one of the most visited places in the city. Entrance is free and to reach Monte de Santa Luzia you can go by car; however, the city has funicular transport available to visitors to facilitate the steep climb to the highest point of the city.
Regional handicrafts, bars and restaurants can be found in Praça da República in Viana do Castelo. The architecture of the surrounding buildings is reminiscent of a castle, while it is in this place that you can find some historic buildings such as the Old Town Hall or the Quinhentista Fountain.
A 30-minute drive from the centre of Viana there are small paradises such as waterfalls and landscapes that only exist in the region. In Serra d’Arga you can find the Pincho Waterfall, bathed by the Âncora River. The place is very popular for those who like to walk along trails in the mountains. The same happens in Poço Negro, also in Serra d’Arga. The place is only lit by the sun between 11am and 2:30pm, but to get there visitors must walk a distance of two kilometres, as there is no access by car. At the end of the walk, visitors can take a dip in the natural pool they will find at a place called Poço Negro.
Despite all the natural and historic beauty of the city, it is in August that the traditional ex-libris of the city can be seen. The Pilgrimage of Nossa Senhora da Agonia. The party that always takes place in August, received in 2013 the Declaration of Interest for Tourism. The Pilgrimage celebrates the religious devotion of the inhabitants of Viana do Castelo. This festival dates back to 1772 and even today it manages to be the highlight of the inhabitants of Viana do Castelo, who enjoy it annually during the week of August 20, a municipal holiday.
The highlight of the Pilgrimage is the Desfile da Mordomia, where more than 500 women parade while wearing the traditional costume of Viana do Castelo, wearing several pieces of gold. During the parade, the women spread what the inhabitants of Viana do Castelo call “chieira”, which can be translated into vanity, despite meaning something much more specific, which only those who live it can explain. Isabel Gonçalves is a young woman from Viana do Castelo who has already dressed in traditional costume and paraded through the streets of Viana do Castelo. She told The Portugal News that “the parade is the high point of the pilgrimage for the women of Viana do Castelo”.
Viana do Castelo's traditional costume consists of a scarf, a shirt, a vest, a skirt, an apron and an “algibeira” (pocket). The women also wear knee-high socks, crafted in cotton thread lace. Finally, the women wear the "chinelas" (slippers). The “chinelas” have a wooden sole and a natural or synthetic calf upper. The colour of the costume varies depending on the region of the woman who is wearing it.
According to Isabel, the taste for wearing traditional dress passes from generation to generation, just like the “dressed costume” that may have been in the woman’s family for several years. Once, only women from Viana do Castelo participated in the Desfile da Mordomia, today Isabel says that people from all over the country, and even foreign women, want to enjoy the experience of participating in the pilgrimage and wear the traditional costume. According to Isabel, "the parade is a moment of union, with a lot of enthusiasm and, above all, a lot of joy."
Whoever wears the costume knows that they will have to follow some rules, such as: do not have painted nails or wear makeup. Before parading, some ensure that women are following all the rules that must be followed to parade through the most emblematic streets of the city, to the sound of "drums, clapping and many voices."
Isabel reveals that because the parade is seen by thousands of people, it makes the "moment even more memorable for those who watch, but especially for those who participate." The young woman believes that the gold that women wear, whether in necklaces or earrings, turns out to be the most appealing to those who watch the show, thus being an “important” element. The amount of gold used is at the discretion of the woman wearing the traditional costume. Certain women like to wear a lot of gold, so they use "gold pieces from the whole family and even from neighbours."
As a woman from Viana do Castelo, Isabel, in addition to all the “chieira”, she is proud to “continue a legacy left by the women” of her city. The pride grows even further because ever since she was a child, she always watched the Desfile da Mordomia and always dreamed of participating. When she had the opportunity to participate, she felt fulfilled by “carrying close to her chest” pieces of gold that belonged to her grandmothers.