Caminha is a town in Northern Portugal, on the wide estuary of the Minho, where this river is met by the smaller Coura, and close to the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most attractive small centers in northern Portugal, with a beautiful riverside setting, many old streets and interesting historical buildings.
First mentioned by Strabo, it became an important trading port early in the 14C, shipping wine to Britain, and later importing products from Africa, India and Brazil. The most notable monuments date from the 16th century. The town started declining in the 17C, when larger trading ships had difficulty to enter the rocky river mouth.
It is a popular weekend and summer destination (good ocean beaches in Camarido and Moledo, 2km and 4km respectively).
A ferry carries cars and pedestrians across the river from/to Pasaxe, close to A Guarda (Spain).
The walkable old town is small and compact. It grew on a small island fortified during the Roman occupation and connected to the mainland in the 13C.
The Praça do Conselheiro Silva Torres is the main square, outside the southern entrance of the walled town; it is adorned by an important renaissance fountain (by João Lopes o Velho, 1551-53). The Palace of the Pittas (15-16C) has the owners' coats of arms in the facade.
Also facing the square is the Old Town Hall, with the tourist office; in the second floor is good timbered meeting room. From the tourism office, stairs lead to the top of the Clock Tower, the medieval keep (small fee; good view). To its right is the Misericórdia church, with some baroque altars and an old organ in the upper choir.
Ricardo Joaquim de Sousa Street, sided by good medieval and renaissance houses, leads from the main square to the Igreja Matriz - the town's main church. In this street is the local museum (modest collections; entrance by a rear alley).
The impressive Igreja Matriz is a large transitional building of the 15-16C, with Gothic, "Manuelino" and Renaissance elements. Inside, the timber roof of the main nave is one of the most important woodcarving pieces in the country; side altars, tiles and the pulpit also deserve inspection.
There are remains of fortifications from the 13C to the 18C.
The late-19C Railway Station has a set of good tiles depicting old-days economic activities.
3 km south, by local roads, the Miradouro de Santo Antão offers a good view over the Minho and Coura valleys, the surrounding mountains, and portions of the Atlantic coast.
The river estuary is good for boating and windsurfing, and the beaches are very popular in the summer.
Good hiking in the surrounding mountains, especially the Serra de Arga.
There are a good number of pubs attracting a young crowd during the holiday season and weekends, otherwise are empty.
Traditional crafts like copper objects and net-lacing are declining.
Local stores offer good cotton and linen products.
Local restaurants serve excellent fish.
Docelandia and Riviera are well-known pastry shops.
After Eight is an established popular pub.
Hotel Portas do Sol, in the southern edge of town Several smaller hotels, B&Bs and a camping (Camarido beach).
The tourism office is open year-round (Old Town Hall, Praça do Conselheiro Silva Torres - 4910-155 Caminha; phone (351) 258921952; [email protected]).
In the summer, possibility of a short boat trip to the rocky island of Insua, in the Atlantic, with a 17C fort, ruins of a medieval convent and sand beach (crossing to be negotiated with local fishermen).