VALENÇA DO MINHO
The history behind the city
Valença do Minho, a region converted into a cultural heritage of strong historical character by its Fortress, candidate to the World Heritage by UNESCO, presents archaeological remains that prove its habitability in a remote occupation. The origin of this discovery dates back to the oldest and longest period of human history – the Palaeolithic – from where it evolved until the period that defined the image of Valença, by the construction of one of the most important military buildings ever.
The conciliation of its location adjacent to the River Minho with a strategic and singular vision on the border line, allowed the Roman Empire to define the design of small fortresses, the Castelli, of maximum example, the Castellum.
Founded as Contrasta in the early thirteenth century by Condado Portucalense, this audacious fortification project became a landmark par excellence in architecture and military construction techniques, worldwide.
The best representation of all this historical development is the coat of arms of the municipality. Since the elevation of Valença to the city, in June 2009, the mural crown represented at the top of this, consists of five towers, indicative of this evolution. The main symbols framed in the coat of arms are the Castle, representative of the local agricultural characterization, the Bridge, symbol of the direct connection between Valença and Spain and finally, the Moon and the Sun, representatives of the constant watch, night and day.
Valença is also the cradle of the first Portuguese saint, by primacy, patron saint of the region: Saint Teotónio. Just as it became one of the pilgrims on the way to the Holy Land, the route of the Paths of Santiago, it also brings pilgrims from all over the world who pass through here, towards the tomb of Santiago de Compostela, recognized as the third holy place of Christianity after Jerusalem and Rome.