VILLAGES

Vila Cova de Alva

açor mountain
Açor MountainVila Cova de Alva
Vila Cova de Alva
vila cova de alva, arganil
A long history. A street where a significant number of door and window frames have Manueline features takes us back to the architecture of the 16th century.

A noble village of exemplary dignity, characterised by the scale of its buildings and public spaces. The river Alva, which flows in the valley below, glistens with purity and freshness. All around stand the mountains that encircle and protect Vila Cova de Alva, inviting a stroll in the dappled shadow of their lush vegetation.

This is the Schist Village which has the largest number of monuments and historic buildings, due to the fact that a religious order established a monastery here. Stroll or rest in the village’s public spaces such as Largo da Igreja Matriz and Largo do Pelourinho, where there are two 17th century mansions. Discover the many religious and civil monuments such as the manor houses Solar dos Condes da Guarda, Solar Abreu Mesquita, the building of the Osório Cabrals or the 16th century street.

And then there is the river Alva with its river beach, a refreshing temptation on hot days.

SITE
Vila Cova de Alva is a village of considerable size, with many new buildings surrounding the central core. The road that passes by the very old Church of São João de Alqueidão and heads in the direction of the crossing point of the Alva, provides the structure for the village layout. The line of the EN342 changed the urban fabric, which then became established alongside this road, saving the old village centre from modern development.

The predominant building material is schist, with granite used for the finer details of buildings, mainly in the door and window openings – door posts, lintels, sills and window sills. Almost all the facades are rendered and painted white. A meandering street almost exclusively composed of Manueline doors and windows transports us to 16th century.

  • territory

    The village is located on the left bank of the river Alva, where the foothills of the northern slope of the Serra do Açor end. The village is crossed by the EN342, which links it to Arganil and Avô. Its people were able to conserve the fertile farmland of the lower areas by building the village along the rise that culminates at the site of the Mother Church.

  • nature

    This is an area of densely forested, very rugged mountains forming part of the most important mountain massif in Portugal: the Central Cordillera.

    Within the monastery walls there once stood a centuries-old yew tree (Taxus baccata). It has left some descendants in the place.  The maple (Acer monspessulanus), an uncommon tree species, occurs in abundance on the left bank of the river Alva near the village.

    The Alva rises on the summits of the southwest slopes of the Serra da Estrela. A section of its course forms the boundary between the Serra do Açor and the Serra da Estrela. It increases in size when it is joined by the flow of river Alvoco at Ponte das Três Entradas. After its waters have provided the scene for many swims from the river beaches that it washes, it calms down in the reservoir of Barragem das Fronhas before meeting the Mondego a little upstream of Penacova, where it ends its course of 106 km.

  • history and stories

    Vila Cova de Alva is of remote origin, having been granted its charter by the Bishop of Coimbra, Dom Estevão Annes Brochardo (bishop 1304-1318). The bishops of Coimbra were regarded as overlords of the region since the reign of King Sancho I. This charter was confirmed in 1471 by the Bishop of Coimbra and first Count-Bishop of Arganil, Dom João Galvão. The charter was renewed in 1514 by King Manuel I.

    In the “Register of the population of the Kingdom (1527)” the entry for the town of Coja included the then Villa Cova which had 89 residents. The charter was renewed again in 1540 by King João III.  In the 16th and 17th centuries important branches of the Abranches and Figueiredo families resided here. In 1708 it was named Vila Cova de Sub-Avô and still belonged to the Bishop of Coimbra. The municipality was abolished in 1836.

    As for the origin of the name, in one of the versions of Fernando Alvaro Seco’s PORTUGALLIAE dated 1600 - regarded as one of the earliest cartographic representations of the whole of the Portuguese mainland – we find “Vª COVA” in the location of the present day village, a name that evolved into Vila Cova de Sub-Avô, meaning “following the course of the river Alva, after Avô”. This name persisted until 1924, when it became known as Vila Cova de Alva. 
    It was also called Vila Cova dos Frades, a name alluding to the monastery existing there at the time.

    The patron of the monastery
    According to his tombstone in the transept of the monastery church, Luís da Costa Faria donated all his lands, 40 réis to feed the community that built the church, several houses in the village and a loan of three thousand cruzados in return for burial on the Epistle side next to the Chapel of Nª Srª da Conceição, whose statue he also commissioned from a workshop in Porto. He entered the monastery on an unknown date and died there on 19 April 1730.

    The Monastery and the third French invasion
    In a detailed account of the effects of the passage of French troops in 1811 written by Father Manuel Lopes Graça, he states that they barbarously attacked the monastery, in particular the sacristy, destroying the chests and their drawers, burning the white habits and ornaments, stealing the fragment of the Holy Cross and various relics, desecrating the altars of the church and tearing up the psalter and the antiphonal. The statue of Our Lord of the Stations was desecrated by having an arm torn off. The organ was wrecked by removing some of its pipes.

    Monastery built with wood from the Mata da Margaraça
    In 1713, the Bishop of Coimbra, António de Vasconcelos e Sousa, made a donation of various items for the construction of the monastery, including wood from the Margaraça Forest (currently included in the Açor Mountain Protected Landscape), which belonged to him at the time.

    The architect of the monastery
    This was João Coelho Coluna - a friar or lay brother born in Alvito – who designed the plans of the monastery.  The headstone of his tomb in the porch of the monastery church bears the date 1756.

    A village with a novel
    “Vale de Crugens” (1958), by Mário Braga, is in fact Vila Cova do Alva. More novella then novel, it tells the story of the character Maria da Natividade, a name shared with the village’s patron saint. It talks about the “vast monastic house with a pointed turret in each corner”, an “ancient monastery of friars”, the black well of Fraga in the river, a Zé dos Peixes, musicians rehearsing in the Casa do Povo; the news of the flood coming from Avô, and at Pomares the strength of the current “had ripped up a great quantity of olive trees”, the same happening in the parishes of Arganil; it talks about men going to Lisbon looking for “a cleaner life”, leaving with the desire to return to set up a business in the village, but really they only return laden with nostalgia.
    (adapted from www.miradourodevilacova.com)

    Confraria do Bucho (Arganil)
    The creation and existence of this fraternity – which has promoted pig’s stomach (bucho) since 2006 - has a lot to do with the distinctive characteristics and reputation for quality of the pig’s stomach produced in Vila Cova do Alva.

     

  • patrimony

    Vila Cova de Alva has a remarkable religious heritage. The construction of the Monastery of Santo António, in the early 18th century, exerted a beneficial religious influence throughout the parish.

    Also worth a visit:

    • Mother Church
    • Church of the former Monastery of Santo António
    • Misericórdia Church
    • Solar Abreu Mesquita
    • Solar dos Condes da Guarda
    • Sixteenth century street
    • Chapel of São João de Alqueidão
    • Pillory
    • 16th century carved coat of arms
      Coat of arms carved in stone (Castelo Branco, Britos, Costas and Castros) and stone engraved with the date 1536, embedded in the facade of a now altered building.
    • Casa da Praça (or building of the Osório Cabrals)
      Built at the beginning of the 17th century, it was formerly the town hall, courthouse and gaol. Balcony windows with corniced lintel and iron railings of the period.
    • Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Assunção
      Main door with a round arch surmounted by a body with a carved stone coat of arms (in limestone - Figueiredo, Fernandes and Melos – above an inscription with the date 1629 and with a crest in the form of a lion with a fig leaf in its mouth) and a pediment with two scrolls flanking a cross. Above the eaves, there is a small bell tower with a bell. There is a square oculus window on the Epistle side of the church and another round one on the right-hand side.
    • Fonte de Santa Teresa fountain
      Dipping well, with a niche in the facade. It bears the inscription “E.1878”.
    • Fonte da Praça fountain
      Drinking fountain with piped water.
    • Fonte de São Sebastião fountain
      Fountain profusely decorated with tiles.
    • Wayside shrine
      Installed on the parapet of the bridge, dated 1790, with a tile panel dated 1952.
    • Wayside shrine
      Adjacent to the Chapel of São João de Alqueidão
  • products
    • Horticultural produce
    • Grapes and wine
    • Olives and olive oil
    • Kid
    • Lamb
    • Ewe’s cheese, mixed-milk cheese (ewe’s and goat’s)
    • Pig’s stomach
  • how to arrive

    De Norte e de Sul
    Na A1 sair na saída 13 (Coimbra) e seguir pelo IP3 até à saída 13 (Arganil). Tomar o IC7 e depois seguir pela N17. O concelho de Arganil é servido pelo IP3, o IC8 e duas estradas nacionais, a EN17 (Estrada da Beira) sentido Este-Oeste, e EN342 sentido Sudoeste-Nordeste.

    De Espanha
    Entrando por Vilar Formoso, tomar a A25/E80 na direcção Aveiro, até à saída 20 (Mangualde). Na rotunda sair na primeira à direita e continuar pela N234. Após Nelas entrar no IC12, sair na saída 1 (Tábua). Virar à esquerda, tomar a N234-6. Passar Tábua e seguir a N337. Na EN17 encontrará placas. Dirija-se à localidade de Ponte das três Entradas.

  • Residents' name
    vilacovenses
  • Patron saint
    nossa senhora da natividade
  • Ex-libris
    church of the convent of santo antónio

Contacts

explore

restaurants
Quinta da Palmeira Romantic Boutique Restaurant
Quinta da Palmeira Romantic Boutique Restaurant
Cerdeira, Arganil
restaurants
João Brandão
João Brandão
Oliveira do Hospital
lodging
Quinta da Palmeira – Country House Retreat & Spa
Quinta da Palmeira – Country House Retreat & Spa
Arganil
lodging
Casa da Moenda
Casa da Moenda
Benfeita
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Casa do Rosmaninho
Casa do Rosmaninho
Pardieiros
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Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
Aldeia das Dez
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Casa do Secolinho
Aldeia das Dez
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Campus Natura
Campus Natura
Alqueve
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A Boa Vida do Campo
A Boa Vida do Campo
Tábua
lodging
Casa da Eira de Cima
Casa da Eira de Cima
Aldeia das Dez
lodging
Quinta da Moenda
Quinta da Moenda
Alvoco das Várzeas
lodging
Aqua Village Health Resort & SPA
Aqua Village Health Resort & SPA
Caldas de São Paulo
institutional
União de Freguesias Vila Cova de Alva e Anceriz
União de Freguesias Vila Cova de Alva e Anceriz
Vila Cova de Alva, Arganil
tour
Vila Cova de Alva Schist Walking Trail - PR4 AGN
Vila Cova de Alva Schist Walking Trail - PR4 AGN
tour
Schist Walking Trail of Avô - Around the Alva
Schist Walking Trail of Avô - Around the Alva
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P31 - Green)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P31 - Green)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P32 - Blue)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P32 - Blue)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P33 - Red)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P33 - Red)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P34 - Black)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Açor Mountain - Coja (P34 - Black)
heritage
Peace Tower
Peace Tower
institutional
Junta de Freguesia de Benfeita
Junta de Freguesia de Benfeita
Benfeita, Arganil
village
Benfeita
Benfeita
tour
Panoramic Road: Benfeita - Piódão
Panoramic Road: Benfeita - Piódão
tour
PR 1 AGN -  Benfeita Schist trail - The freshness of waterfalls
PR 1 AGN - Benfeita Schist trail - The freshness of waterfalls
Quinta da Palmeira – Country House Retreat & Spa
tour
Colcurinho Epic Climb
Colcurinho Epic Climb
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
tour
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 3 – The Footprint of the Ermit
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 3 – The Footprint of the Ermit
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
tour
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 2 - Imperial route
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 2 - Imperial route
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
tour
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 1 - By the floodplains of Alvoco
Schist Walking Trail of Aldeia das Dez 1 - By the floodplains of Alvoco
Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia
heritage
Church of São Bartolomeu
Church of São Bartolomeu
heritage
Casa do S
Casa do S
village
Aldeia das Dez
Aldeia das Dez
heritage
Igreja Matriz de Aldeia das Dez
Igreja Matriz de Aldeia das Dez
institutional
Junta de Freguesia de Aldeia das Dez
Junta de Freguesia de Aldeia das Dez
Aldeia das Dez, Oliveira do Hospital
tour
Spring Walk: Ponte das Três Entradas - Aldeia das Dez
Spring Walk: Ponte das Três Entradas - Aldeia das Dez
tour
Panoramic Road:   Aldeia das Dez - Sobral de São Miguel
Panoramic Road: Aldeia das Dez - Sobral de São Miguel
tour
Panoramic Road:  Aldeia das Dez - Benfeita
Panoramic Road: Aldeia das Dez - Benfeita
tour
PR3 TBU - Schist Walking Trail of Tábua - Bridges Route
PR3 TBU - Schist Walking Trail of Tábua - Bridges Route
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P1 - Green)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P1 - Green)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P5 - Black)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P5 - Black)
Quinta da Palmeira – Country House Retreat & Spa
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre de Tábua (P6 - Black)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre de Tábua (P6 - Black)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P3 - Red)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P3 - Red)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P4 - Black)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P4 - Black)
tour
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P2 - Blue)
Cyclin'Portugal Centre of Tábua (P2 - Blue)
heritage
Ponte Medieval de Alvoco das Várzeas
Ponte Medieval de Alvoco das Várzeas

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