Set on a plateau high in the hills of Beira Alta, the regional capital of Viseu retains a medieval feel to what was once a walled centre and has been an important crossroads since Roman times. In fact, the Romans kept a large garrison of soldiers here, the most important yet to be uncovered by archaeologists in Portugal and the buildings of which apparently covered around 40 square hectares.
Although not famed for bustling nightlife, Viseu is a busy provincial city full of artistic treasures, historical churches and a strong culture of local crafts. Surrounded by rich agricultural land and pastures of grazing sheep, the area is also renowned for its fine cheeses and is the centre the production of Dão wines. With the majority of vineyards boasting vines of at least half a century in age, winemaking is a firmly rooted tradition here. The red is sometimes compared to a Burgundy because of its garnet colouring and full bodied taste and the whites are also becoming increasingly popular around the globe. The special appeal of these wines is largely owing to the altitude and therefore temperature of the land and the resulting unique strains of grape. Local artisans produce a variety of crafts from intricate handmade lace to the black pottery typical of the area, all of which is available at local markets throughout the region.www.travel-in-portugal.com