Although technically in the Beira Alta region, the charming town of LAMEGO, 11km south of Régua, is easily accessible from the Douro, with which it shares a passion for wine – in this case, Raposeira, Portugal’s answer to champagne. It’s overlooked by the fine Baroque shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios – another of those decorative Portuguese stone stairways to the skies – which plays host to an annual pilgrimage from late August to early September. There are scores of noble manor-houses in the handsome town centre, and a series of extraordinary churches, monasteries and fortified buildings in the surrounding verdant valleys, a legacy of the twelfth-century Reconquista, when Lamego was among the first towns to be retaken from the Moors.
Much of Lamego’s early wealth derived from its position astride a valuable trade route from the Beiras to the Douro, but the town’s real importance stems from its history: in 1143, Lamego hosted Portugal’s first parliament, when a group of clergy and noblemen assembled to recognize Afonso Henriques as the nation’s first king. As such, Lamego lays claim to being the birthplace of both country and crown – a fact hotly disputed by Afonso Henriques’ birthplace, Guimarães.