Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is a region that has asserted itself historically and traditionally as a space of large homogeneity encompassing the districts of Vila Real and Bragança and a small part of the north of the districts of Viseu and Guarda, whose affinity with the rest of the region results from the economic, cultural and climatic conditions of the Douro River valley.
The contrasts of a landscape where majestic mountains, fertile plains, streams and the rivers, give shape to a charming natural space that invites us to appreciate it will leave no one indifferent. It's a region of secular traditions with a firm cultural identity, in which the people are it's finest resource. The hospitality translated in the emblematic expression "come in, who is it?", the straight forwardness and the greatness of character, the higher sense of responsibility and the enormous capacity of work and dedication are some of the traits that define it's personality.
The natural resources are the regions greatest wealth. The hydraulic resources are particularly noteworthy; from the production of electric energy, the production of natural mineral and medicinal waters, thermal springs, to the resources of ornamental stones, the forestry resources and most of all, the winegrowing culture with a special emphasis on the production of Port.
It is also a region with huge potential for tourism, thanks to the ideal natural conditions, the absence of pollution, the beauty of the landscape and the richness of its historical and archeological patrimony, to which we add the traits of a resistant popular culture (workmanship, folklore, popular games...).
Financially and culturally, the region around Vila Real reflects both the economic development of its wine sector, with the production of highly appreciated red wines and the world renowned Port wine; as well as that of what is known as the "Cold Land" (Terra Fria). The economy is mostly based on livestock, forestry and natural resources, which are the region's greatest source of wealth – the rivers and wind generate electricity for the whole country, the geology provides spring, mineral and heated spa waters of the highest quality, and there are enormous reserves of granite and other ornamental rocks and minerals to be quarried. The Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro region possesses some of the most spectacular scenery in Portugal, with extensive vineyards and impressive country residences that can be found in the valleys of the Douro and its tributaries – which together constitute the Port Wine Demarcated Region, recognized as World Heritage in 2001.
The natural beauty and contrasts of an unpolluted landscape – fertile verdant lowlands, lofty mountains, terraced valleys, olive and almond groves, deep forests, majestic rivers and gushing streams – all infuse the region with a charm, grace and peacefulness that leave no visitor unmoved. It is a region that combines centuries-old traditions – historical and archaeological heritage, traditional handcrafts and folklore, as well as varied and appetising cuisine – and an openness that encapsulates both the traditional hospitality of the region and its willingness to adapt to the challenges of today. All this endows the region with great tourist potential, and a privileged environment for pursuing academic studies.
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