Portugal - Silver Coast. A taste of life and hospitality by:Villas Luz, Lda.
All of this is now less than an hour drive from Lisbon International airport along
the new A8 motorway, linking the vibrant capital of Portugal with historic Oporto in the North. As there is also a proposed new international airport to be located at OTA, this little known region is opening its doors to the outside world. For decades the Algarve has been the only realistic location for overseas buyers to enjoy the unique hospitality of the Portuguese, but prices there have put it out of reach for most. Now we are pleased to invite you to experience the heart of Portugal - a secret we can all share.
A region for life
Exploring the tranquil towns, villages and countryside of this beautiful region will confirm to you that here is a place that genuinely has the best of both worlds. Whilst offering a life of rural calm amidst the spectacular scenery, at the same time it is perfectly equipped with access to all the modern facilities of transport, healthcare, education and leisure that make life a pleasure for all generations. The Western Region enjoys entertainments and events throughout the year: concerts, art exhibitions, the Torres carnival - 'the most Portuguese event in Portugal', the Caldas da Rainha ceramics and fruit fairs, the Bombarral wine festival, Peniche's Festas da Nuestra Senhora da Boa Viagem, the Montejunto popular festival (Cadaval), Alenquer's Feira da Ascensao, festivals in Sobral, Monte Agraco and Arruda dos Vinhos, Feiras da Cebola e das Tasquinhas and hundreds more fairs, festivals and popular gatherings. The region has many hotels with superb facilities and innumerable restaurants, bars and lively venues which ensure that one's first visit to the Western region is never the last. For golf enthusiasts the Western Region is the new destination in Portugal. Golf Courses at Praia d'el Rey (18 holes)and Rio Maior (18 holes) are complemented by 9-hole courses at Consolao and Porto Novo - Bom Sucesso and Perola da Lagoa 18-hole courses are actually already under construction and the brand new project of the 18-hole course of Foz do Arelho, which will be the hugest should begin within the year 2007. The natural abundance of the area is enhanced by beautiful fine-sanded beaches, where the sands shimmer like silver, at Santa Cruz, Porto Novo, Areia Branca, S. Bernardino, Consolao, Peniche, Baleal, Foz do Arelho and Salir do Porto. Local crafts can be found in Peniche, which is notable for its lace, and in Caldas da Rainha, which is one of the most important centres for ceramics in Portugal. The new Peniche recreation centre is a base for water sports, with a haven of fishing and scuba-diving in Berlenga. Santa
Cruz and Peniche (Supertubos beach and Lagide beach) are the places for surf lovers. The Obidos lake has sailing, rowing and windsurfing. Montejunto, Serrado Socorro and Santa Rita beach are the main locations for paragliding and hang-gliding. The Santa Cruz aerodrome, with its flying school, offers flights in light aircraft and gliders. There are equestrian centres in the Hotel Golf Mar, in Marquiteira (Lourinha), in Atouguia da Baleia - at the Quinta das Tripas and the Quintas de Bom Sucesso - Lourinha, S. Sebastido - Arruda dos Vinhos, Quinta da Ferraria and Cortisada - Rio Maior.
A region for health
Healthcare facilities are modern and efficient and offer a good range of public and private services for all your requirements. In addition the region offers several thermal baths: Vimeiro (digestive system, circulatory system, respiratory system and skin), Cucos (metabolic and endocrine systems, rheumatics, muscular and skeletal systems) and Torres Vedras and Caldas da Rainha - the oldest in Europe (respiratory system, rheumatics, muscular and skeletal systems).
A region for Gourmets
Gastronomy in the region is rich and varied: there are many delicious pork dishes, oven baked kid, stewed rabbit with rice, celebrated fish stews, baked or boiled sea bream and rock bass from Peniche, eels and cockles from the Obidos lake and shellfish from the beds at Porto de Barcas (lagosta suada - 'sweating lobster' - is a delicacy which can only be found in the Western Region). The gastronomical influence of history is evident in trouxas de ovos, lampreias de ovos (sweet dishes made with eggs) and cavacas (light crisp cakes) from Caldas da Rainha, bean pies from Torres Vedras and paes de lo (sponge cakes) from Landal, Painho and Rio Maior. All are complemented by the taste and aroma of apples and pears.
The Western region is also one of the largest wine growing areas in Portugal and indeed the world. The area boasts full-bodied, aromatic red wines with excellent alcoholic content: the wines of the south (castas Camarate, Periquita and Tinto Miudo) are lively when young, intense yet well balanced and with an exquisite bouquet when aged. The white wines of the north are deliciously fruity (castas Arinto, Fernao Pires, Vital). Out of this diversity, the wine-growing areas of Obidos and Alenquer, Arruda dos Vinhos and Torres Vedras were born in 1989. The region is also known for its light wines with lower alcohol content, and for the only DOC (controlled standard of origin) classified brandy in Portugal - Aguardente Vinica from Lourinha.
PORTUGAL - COSTA DE PRATA - THE SILVER COAST
Aveiro in the north is unique: it is criss-crossed by canals grandly embroidered with art nouveau houses and spanned by hump- backed bridges. Here in colourfully painted 'moliceiro' boats, seaweed is gathered in the vast saltwater lagoon. Further inland you can sample the curative waters of the elegant thermal spa towns of Luso and Curia, fashionable since early this century. And in the Bucaco forest nearby, stands the Palace Hotel, resplendent with turrets, arched galleries and an enormous marble staircase: a perfect hideaway for romantics.
The lively University city of Coimbra is a mixture of ancient and modern. Its streets are filled with the chatter of black-caped students and the soulful tones of fado. The university library, one of the best in Europe, is a Baroque fantasy where the rooms each lead into the next creating a telescope-like effect. The old Cathedral is one of the most important examples of Romanesquc architecture in Portugal. In the Marchado de Castro Museum, you'll find religious art treasures and can actually explore the ruins of the Roman crypt over which the museum was built. An even more impressive sight is the nearby Roman city of Conimbriga. On the west coast, the town of Figueira da Foz has vast beaches and a famous casino.
Further south is the charming town of Leiria with its crenulated walls towering high above an almost perpendicular rock. From May to October, the roads nearby are lined with pilgrims - many on foot - visiting the famed shrine of Fatima where three shepherd children claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary.
Thirty four kilometres east is Tomar where the bastion of the Knights Templar later became the Convento de Cristo. Tales of mystery and hidden treasures echo around it's cloisters and its crowning glory is the ornate Manueline window.
Another magical place is the Castle of Almmourol, just south, which stands on a tiny island and is steeped in legends of giants and knights.
Further opulent architecture can he discovered at Batalha in the Santa Maria da Vitoria Monastery, with its flying buttresses, gargoyles, pinnacles and the intricate stonework of its cloisters. Close to this is one of Portugal's most awe-inspiring monuments: the Monastery of Alcobaca, which has been given UNESCO world heritage status. The kitchen, with ovens big enough to roast six oxen at once, even has two streams converging through it into one. The monastery also contains the tombs of King Pedro and Ines de Castro whose passionate love story has inspired writers and poets all over the world. Many of the farming methods and agricultural science of the region introduced by the Cistercian monks are still in evidence today.
The delightful town of Obidos, with white houses adorned with bougainvilleas and honeysuckle was captured from the Moors by the first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, in 1148. D. Dinis later presented it to his wife, Queen Santa Isabel. From then until 1883, the town of Obidos and the surrounding land was always the property of the queens of Portugal.
Encircled by a ring of medieval walls and crowned by the Moorish castle rebuilt by D. Dinis, which is now a pousada, Obidos is one of the most perfect examples of our medieval fortress. As in olden times, the town is entered through the southern gate of Santa Maria, embellished with eighteenth-century azulejo decoration.
Inside the walls, which at sunset take on a golden colouring, one can sense a cheerful medieval ambience of winding streets, old whitewashed houses bordered with blue or yellow, Manueline embrasures and windows, reminding us that King D. Manuel I (sixteenth century) carried out major works here, and masses of colourful flowers and plants.
Be sure to visit the Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria (Parish Church of Santa Maria), the pretty Capela de Sao Martinho (Chapel of S. Martinho) and, outside the town walls, the Igreja do Senhor da Pedra (Church of the Senhor da Pedra).
Among the events that take place every year in Obidos, the most important are the Holy Week Festivities (recreating the steps on the Way of the Cross), the Ancient Music Festival in October and, for the more gluttonous, the International Chocolate festival in November, which includes an international competition in which the recipes are judged by an international jury of experts.
Fatima - With its origins deep in history, it was during the Arabian occupation that this settlement developed and was named. According to legend, during the Christian Reconquest, the Templar knight Goncalo Hermingues, also known as Bringer-of-Moors, fell in love with Fatima, a Moor captured in the course of an ambush. Reciprocating the love, the young woman converted to Christianity and adopted the name Oureana.
In the sixteenth century, the settlement became a parish in the collegiate church of Ourem within the Diocese of Leiria.
Its subsequent development dates from the events known as the Apparitions of Fatima, in the early part of the twentieth century. It has become one of the key centres for the Cult of the Virgin Mary in Portugal and has been recognised world-wide by the Catholic Church.
The first apparition took place in 1917, in Cova da Iria, at the site of the current Sanctuary. The most important celebrations are held on 13th May (including the Candlelit Procession on the night of the 12th and the Farewell Procession closing the event on the 13th) and 13th October. Furthermore, the 13th of every month between these two dates is also a day of devotion.
For those interested in the historical context of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, visits can be made to the houses of the shepherd witnesses in the village of Aljustrel.
In the gardens of Casa de Lucia, there is a monument commemorating the second apparition of the Angel of Peace and the end of the Via Sacra which begins in the Sanctuary.
Along this route, there are 14 chapels donated by Hungarian Catholic refugees in the West. Of particular note is Valinhos, 400 metres from the village where monuments commemorate the fourth apparition in 1917 as well as the place chosen by the angel. Here, in 1916, the shepherds saw the Angel of Peace for the first and third times.
On the coast is the fishing village of Nazare where you'll find fishermen in knee length plaid trousers, and women in full skirts and seven petticoats, mending nets. The walled town of Obidos should also not he missed, with its narrow streets of brightly white-washed houses and striking towers of the Castle that's now a splendid Pousada Take just a short trip south and you can explore the active fishing port of Peniche which has a dominating 16th century fort built for protection against marauding pirates. The Silvercoast is one of the most peaceful and romantic places of all.
Buying Property in Silver Coast Portugal
Buying property in Silver Coast Portugal is currently popular with Europeans, but as of yet, not so much with the British property buyers. This is because properties are relatively inexpensive and transport links to/from the UK are getting better and cheaper to the Silver Coast. Buying property in Silver Coast Portugal offers superb beach holiday facilities with a great summer climate, great culture, architecture and history. Also, the Silver Coast is tipped to see significant capital property value rises in the coming years.
Portugal is an evergreen in the overseas property market. Build quality is high, property prices have grown a steady 10-15% per annum since the Millennium, and there's a broad choice of property across the price range and country - within the Silver Coast the price grow within the following years will possibly reach the 25 - 35 %.
Buying property in Silver Coast Portugal offers good prospects for rental from both the local market and from holidaymakers, and with the potential of significant property price rises on the Silver Coast Portugal, this could be the ideal place to invest in a holiday home.
Buying property in Portugal still has great appeal as it has a benign tax system which allows avoidance of the worst effects of capital gains and inheritance tax and can put you in a lower tax band.
Why buy in the the Silver Coast
Property experts have been advising clients to look beyond the Algarve, with its pockets of overgrowing, and invest instead in homes 45 minutes' drive from Lisbon on Portugal's Silver Coast. Maddison says, "The Algarve used to be the most popular area. However, it is now rather overrun with Brits and over commercialized. In other words it is too popular now, with many of those looking to purchase in Portugal now looking elsewhere."
According to international property specialists the Silver Coast is now the up-and-coming area in Portugal. "Many Brits are selling up in the Algarve and moving up to the Oeste Region, which is located just north of Lisbon. This area is still very Portuguese, with farming the main source of income for the locals. It does not die in the winter because most of the locals are Portuguese. The cost of properties is so much cheaper than on the Algarve - so there is still room to make money in this area".
But what of the place itself? The Silver Coast stretches from Porto down to Portugal's capital Lisbon and hugs the North Atlantic coastline; it is home to beautiful beaches, amazing cliffs, quaint fishing villages, lush rolling countryside and some of the most fascinating historic sites in Portugal. Here you can discover pretty villages and a real Portuguese way of life. The Silver Coast is a particularly good bet for those with holiday lets in mind, thanks to the new A8 motorway which has cut journey times from Lisbon to the Silver Coast considerably, opening the atmospheric towns of Caldas da Rainha and Turcifal, and pretty villages, such as Peniche, up to tourists and investors.
There is a wide range of property available on the Silver Coast. You can find traditional farmhouses in need of renovation, but there has also been a fair amount of developments popping up and luxury villas with pools and apartments in complexes are easy to find.
Access to the area is becoming even easier as more and more airlines now offer frequent flights to Lisbon.
Hope to see you soon in the Silver Coast of Portugal - http://www.silver-coast-properties.net
About the author
Villas Luz, Lda.
I am 47 years old and definitely love my country Portugal. Just amazing: "The way of life, the people, the hospitality, the nature and so many other things..." A few articles about the different regions. I hope you enjoy them. Come and visit Portugal and I am sure you will choose it as your secondary country. http://www.silver-coast-properties.net/
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