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 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 manorhouses 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 the trade route from the Beiras to the Douro, but the town’s real importance is 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, it claims to be the birthplace of country and crown – a fact hotly disputed by Alfonso Henriques’ birthplace, Guimarães.