Another old bridge over the Rio Lima is the centrepiece of the pretty, historic riverside town – PONTE DA BARCA, the “Barca” part of the name referring to the boat that once ferried pilgrims across the river, en route to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Nowadays the Lima is spanned by a lovely sixteenth-century bridge, beside which is the shaded Jardim dos Poetas, dedicated to sixteenth-century brothers Diogo Bernardes and Agostinho da Cruz, monastic poets who were born in the town. Like the neighbouring Ponte de Lima, that’s pretty much it, save for a fortnightly riverside market on Wednesdays (it alternates with the one in Arcos de Valdevez), which draws hundreds of people from outlying hamlets. The only other time the small town becomes animated is for the annual Feira de São Bartolomeu, which takes place on August 19–24, with the big day on August 24; don’t expect to get any sleep once the party starts.

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