Positioned on the Portuguese border at the confluence of the rivers Douro and Águeda, the small Spanish port town of Vega de Terron is a popular passageway to the ancient university city, Salamanca. With Portuguese and Spanish influences, Vega de Terron is a charming settlement dotted on the banks of the fascinating waterway across from the beautiful Douro International Nature Park.
The small town is the last stop for the Douro before the river starts to navigate north, forming the border between Portugal and Spain, and Vega de Terron features all the hallmark qualities of a Douro Valley village. Quiet streets, lush landscapes and friendly locals make up this slow-paced town which is half-surrounded by beautiful waterways.
The town’s port is, perhaps, the major feature of Vega de Terron, welcoming river cruise guests midway through a round-trip atop the Douro. But unlike many other towns which serve as port destinations for neighbouring towns and cities, Vega de Terron remains beautifully unspoiled. The port is charmingly simplistic and rural, just what you’d expect in this laid back part of the world.
It doesn’t take long to explore the highlights of Vega de Terron, but the welcoming Spanish sun, relaxed atmosphere and soft river scents in the air make it a wonderful place to spend an hour or two.
However, for most people docking at Vega de Terron, the town serves as a gateway to neighbouring villages, towns and cities, providing an authentic taste of western Spanish life.
Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo
Over on the Portuguese side of the border sits the hilltop village of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, a settlement of huge dispute over the years. Partially immersed in the Douro International Nature Park, the charming little village was reportedly founded as a Spanish settlement by Alfonso IX of León, in order to be given to Count Rodrigo Gonzalez de Girón. But in the 13th century, the ownership of the village was passed over to the Portuguese crown.
Over the following centuries, the Spanish and the Portuguese would routinely bicker and fight over the ownership of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, with the scars of these episodes still on show today. The old fortified walls still stand, but are not without their mementos of battle, with chunks missing and holes blasted.
Despite this, battles and disputes could not be further from the mind when visiting modern-day Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. The peaceful little village is the absolute picture of tranquillity, offering beautiful views of the surrounding national park and the charming houses contained within the protective, fortified walls.
The most popular excursion from Vega de Terron is Salamanca, the ancient university city of Spain. Home to Europe’s third oldest university, Salamanca has a long and proud history in education, which they continue to this day with students making up a large percentage of the current population. But that’s not to say Salamanca is a rowdy university town where students run amok. Its large international alumni gives the city a multi-national flair, and the university’s students are more likely to be found discussing politics over a coffee than drinking brightly-coloured alcoholic concoctions.
Salamanca in itself is an absolute joy to behold. The ancient sandstone walls glisten in the sun, highlighting the master stone masonry which went into crafting this majestic city. A UNESCO World Heritage-recognised city, Salamanca has earned the nickname, La Dorada (the golden city), owing to the largely uniform buildings which have barely changed over the centuries.
Rich with charming squares, beautiful palaces and impressive religious sites; Salamanca retains an ancient feel and provides a perfect setting for an afternoon’s relaxed exploration.
For our full guide to Salamanca, click here.
Douro International Nature Park
Stretching for up to 75 miles on the banks of the River Douro and River Águeda; the Douro International Nature Park is a protected area of outstanding beauty. With rolling hills elevating up to 800 metres in the air, the park looks out over the powerful waterways, creating an unforgettable spectacle.
Sheer hill faces emerge from the rivers, dotted with amazing indigenous plants and wildlife. Amongst the most exciting highlights of the Douro International Nature Park is the nesting patterns of the local bird species. There are a number of bird species which are endangered at national and international level, who build their nests in the ravines of the sheer hill faces. Catching these birds in flight or returning to their nests is one of the pure joys of navigating the Douro International Nature Park.
Arrive at the Douro International Nature Park in March and you’ll be welcomed by the glorious scent of almond trees in full blossom, delightfully offsetting the vibrant beauty of the area. All adding to the laid back beauty of a river cruise atop the Douro.
Vega de Terron marks the midway point of a river cruise atop the Douro with Emerald Cruises during the roundtrips from Porto. Excursions to Salamanca from Vega de Terron are included in the price of the cruises, and are hugely recommended for guests wishing to see one of Europe’s most beautiful ancient cities.
For more information about an Emerald Cruises river cruise on this captivating waterway, visit our dedicated Douro river cruises page, or call our friendly sales team on 855 222 3214.
Image credits: Flickr Creative Commons: Gerry Labrijn