Difference between revisions of "Coa Valley"
Revision as of 11:12, 7 February 2013
Coa valley is in Portugal,in Guarda district, along the Coa river..
In the mountains of northeast Portugal, a region of extensive olive groves and where the almond trees blossom in spring (February and March) and the vineyards in autumn (September and October) are covered by leaves the colour of fire, there is a tributary of the River Douro with a universally recognised name: Côa. It is so well known due to the expressive art that fills the valley this river has gouged out of the rock. The schist rocks that occupy the valley have been converted into art canvases over thousands of years, being used for engravings that are the legacy of our ancestors’ creative instinct.
These open-air panels and the habitats that can be identified date back to the Upper Palaeolithic and they are testimony to the occupation of the land and a vitality and mastery of drawing that have given us a 25,000 year timeline. This long gallery of art provides us a record of the Neolithic period and the Iron Age, then swiftly racing through two thousand years of history to inscribe religious representations, names and dates in the Modern Age and continuing until only a few decades ago.
The motifs, which are nearly all engraved, have themes and use techniques and conventions that are common to contemporary works of Western Europe and those that would be discovered in the 19th century in the closed-in environments of caves in France and Cantabria, which would be called great art at the turn of the century. The Côa art emerges in the 20th century, where a daily and seasonal play of light and dark exposes and hides the art in a wonderful sequence of revelation and concealment.
The final seventeen kilometres of the Côa valley contain hundreds of Palaeolithic engravings along the river’s banks, extending all the way to the River Douro. This zone has been made into Portugal’s first Archaeological Park. This Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 2 December 1998.
This entire open-air art collection, which buries the old myth of rock art only existing in caves, is exhibited in the Museum through original pieces of movable art, replicas of “rock panels” and interactive zones that use modern digital technology. The art can also be viewed in loco on organised visits to the valley with specialised guides (advance booking required).
Other places of interest in the region include Douro wine-producing estates where wine can be purchased and the Quinta da Ervamoira estate within the boundaries of the Archaeological Park serves as a complement to a visit to the engravings. This wine estate houses a museum to the region’s history and its ancient customs, including the equally ancient process of making bread and the traditions related to the production of Douro wine, which is certainly another of the riches of this region of Portugal.
Castle of Pinhel
ORIENTED TOURS TO ROCK ART SITES IN THE CÔA VALLEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
Since 1996, the Côa Valley Archaeological Park (PAVC) offers oriented tours, in all-terrain vehicles and open to the public in general, to three of the major sites of Paleolithic rock art known in the Park: Canada do Inferno, Penascosa, and Ribeira de Piscos (see more detailed information for each site on this page). The PAVC guides accompanying the visits have specialized training in rock art.
The three sites are located in the deep valley of the River Côa, accessible only by dirt roads. The visits start from different places: the Côa Museum (for Canada do Inferno), the Reception Center of Castelo Melhor (for Penascosa) and the Reception Centre of Muxagata (for Ribeira de Piscos).
For logistical reasons and to ensure heritage conservation, there is a limit of visitors per day/site, given the specificity of each one. All visits are oriented and carried out in all-terrain vehicles belonging to PAVC, each with capacity for eight visitors and a guide.
The Paleolithic engravings shown to the public are very patinated by time and this factor, combined with frequent superposition between motifs, makes them difficult to see and interpret. The scheduling of the visits is chosen based on the best natural light for the observation of the engravings, in order to maximize their visualization. The sites of Canada do Inferno and Ribeira de Piscos are visited only during the morning, when the panels are illuminated by sunlight more or less oblique. Rather, the Penascosa panels, located on the right bank of the river, are shaded in the morning, so this site is visited only during the afternoon.
Thus, taking also into account the average duration of each visit, we inform that during one day it is not possible to visit more than two rock art sites, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The degrees of difficulty of the three courses vary somewhat. Penascosa is the easiest is to visit, with a low degree of difficulty, with an easy access and a short walk. Canada do Inferno has also an easy visit, but with a slightly higher degree of difficulty, taking a longer and more demanding walk, with some unevenness. Ribeira de Piscos is a course of medium difficulty, with a long and winding journey, not recommended for people with poor physical capacity or mobility problems.
It should be noted that the Côa valley is a very dry region, where extremely high temperatures can be reached, particularly in summer. There is often a difference in temperature of several degrees between the plateau area, where the villages and the Côa Museum are located, and the bottom of the valley, where the visits are made. Shaded areas are scarce. We recommend the use of comfortable clothing and shoes, suitable for the time of year and weather conditions. In summer, it is strongly recommended that each visitor bring a hat, water and sunscreen, because there is a high risk of heat stroke, dehydration or sunburn. In winter or rainy weather it is recommended the use of impermeable.
More information at Côa Website