For the Romans in Portugal, the rising mists of the Rio Lima carried troubling echoes of the River Lethe, or the “River of Forgetfulness”, one of the five mythical rivers of the Underworld. The Romans believed that if they crossed the river, or drank any of its water, their memories would be erased and they would never return home – which, according to local legend, is why the otherwise all-conquering Roman legion was brought up short here in the second century BC, its troops refusing to go any further. It took an enterprising general to splash across, and demonstrate that his memory remained intact, before the soldiers would follow. It’s a nice tale, embraced by the modern town, which has a phalanx of Roman troop statues lined up on the town side of the river – being encouraged across the Lima by a mounted officer on the other side.

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Portugal features

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