official_name = Caminha
image_coat_of_arms = CMN.png
Region = Norte
District = Viana do Castelo
Mayor_name = Júlia Costa
Mayor_party = PSD
area_total = 137.4
population_total = 16,839 (2006)
population_density = 122.6
Parishes = 20
coor = 41º50'N 8º50'W
params = 41_50_N_8_50_W
day = date varies
website = http://www.cm-caminha.pt
The municipality has a total area of 137.4 km² and 16,839 inhabitants (2006).
Caminha is subdivided into 20 parishes, among them Vila Praia de Âncora, Moledo and
Vilar de Mouros. The latter is well-known for the oldest rock festival in Portugal. The seat of the municipality is the town ("vila") of Caminha, with 2,500 inhabitants.
The present Mayor is Júlia Paula Pires Pereira da Costa, elected by the Social Democratic Party.
The municipal holiday is
Caminha is located 2 km from the Atlantic, on the southern side of the
Minhoestuary, where this river is met by the smaller and meandering Coura. Here the Minho reaches its widest point (about 2 km) and marks the border between Portugal and Spain. The highly scenic area, with the wide estuary marked by low tide sandbars, a pastoral and green rural landscape, and pine forests on the slopes of the granitic mountains is increasingly popular for second homes and as a summer resort.
Despite Strabo reference to Phoenician docks in the mouth of the Minho, no further evidence was found. An islet at the confluence of the Minho and Coura, now connected to the mainland, was the site of a small Roman military settlement. Caminha was called "Camenae" or "Camina" during the period of Sueve domination, in the 5th century. The area was depopulated due to Arabs and Normands raids, and slowly reoccupied after the 10th century. Around 1060, during the reign of
Ferdinand I of León, Caminha was briefly a Countyand it is known that a castle existed in the area.
In the 13th century Caminha was just a fishing village until King Afonso III decided to build a modern castle and a fortified village following the "bastide" model, finished in 1260. At that time the region was of great military importance, since it was located at the border with Galicia. The castle was later reinforced by Kings Dinis I, when reclaimed land finally connected the original island to the shore, and Ferdinand I. Although most of the walls and towers were torned down or built over, the oval shape of the castle is still clearly visible in the design of some streets, and the
keeptower is still intact and serves as entrance to the historical centre. The pinewood of "Camarido", stabilizing the sandbars at the mouth of the Minho, was another important initiative of Dinis I.
The first letter of feudal rights (
foral) dates from 1284. Caminha belonged to the crown until King Ferdinand I established in 1371 the County of Caminha, whose first count was Álvaro Pires de Castro. In 1390, King John I granted much freedom to the town (creating a "póvoa marítima"), leading maritime commerce to flourish. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it became one of the main ports in Northern Portugal, trading extensively with Northern Europe, Africa and India. A witness of this golden age is the main church ("Igreja Matriz"), built between the 15th and 16th centuries in an exuberant late Gothic- Renaissancemixed style. King Manuel I granted Caminha a new foralin 1512. King Manuel also rebuilt the Ínsua Fort ("Forte da Ínsua"), located in an island at sea and close to the village of Moledo.
After Portugal regained its independence from Spain in 1640, King John IV remodelled the fortifications of Caminha following modern ballistic advances. The Ínsua Fort was also remodelled. Together with the fortifications of
Viana do Castelo, Valença do Minhoand Monção, the castle of Caminha was part of the defence line against the Castilians in the North.
With time, Caminha was superseded by Viana do Castelo in dominating maritime trade in Northern Portugal. Now Caminha lives from trade and tourism, is connected to Spain by a car ferry and to the rest of the country by rail and highways.
The large Parish Church (begun 1488) is one of the most significant buildings illustrating the transition from Gothic to
Renaissancein Portugal, with Manuelineinfluence. Several architects from Northern Spain participated in its long construction. The outstanding timber roof in the interior has rich decoration showing Moorish influences ( Mudéjarstyle).
Other major points of interest are the main square (Renaissance fountain of 1551), several Gothic and Renaissance houses in the old core, and remains of fortifications. Some pre-Roman archeological findings and ethnographic pieces are shown in the modest Municipal Museum.
The Atlantic beaches in the area are wide and have good sand but tend to be windy for part of the day, the Moledo beach attracts surfers.
South of the Coura the small granitic range ("Serra") of Arga (823 m) provides ample opportunities for hiking, cyclocross and canyoning. In the wooded northern slopes is the small monastery of S. João de Arga (popular place for picnics, camping and exploring peaks and streams; also venue for a religious festival) and the village of Castanheira (scenic terraced fields and natural pools).A weekly market is hold every wednesday.
Work from local coppersmiths and lacemakers can be found around town.
* Arga de Baixo
* Arga de Cima
* Arga de São João
* Caminha (or Caminha-Matriz) (Caminha)
* Riba de Âncora
* Vila Praia de Âncora
Vilar de Mouros
* Vilarelho (Caminha)
* [http://www.cm-caminha.pt Municipality official website]
* [http://www.manor-houses-portugal.com/alto-minho/caminha/casa-esteiro.html Casa de Esteiro ]
* [http://www.portugalvilla.com/villas/minho-verde/caminha-casa-seixas.html Casa Seixas ]
* [http://www.portugalvilla.com/villas/minho-verde/caminha-moledo-casa-gateira.html Casa da Gateira ]
* [http://www.portugalvilla.com/villas/minho-verde/caminha-vilar-mouros-bouca-velha.html Casa da Bouca Velha ]
* [http://www.portugalvilla.com/villas/minho-verde/caminha-casa-castanheiro.html Casa do Castanheiro ]
* [http://www.casadaponteromanica.com/index.html Casa da Ponte ]
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