Chaves is a beautiful city in Trás-os-Montes and one of the most historical cities in Portugal. Chaves is a town and seat of municipality in the far North of Portugal, 10 km south of the Spanish border and 22 km south of Verín, Spain. Is the second most populous of the district of Vila Real. The district capital, Vila Real, is 60 km south on the A24 toll-free motorway. Aquæ Flaviæ was the Roman name for this town.
Chaves is surrounded by mountains and that brings windy and changing weather, so you'd better bring a jacket or an umbrella with you, at least in and autumn and winter.
The easy way to go to Chaves by plane is going to Oporto airport, and then catch a Bus or highway to Chaves. It takes about one hour and half from Oporto. There are low cost companies flying to Porto Oporto, one of them is Ryanair.
There is no train service.
The Pedestrian Bridge and the Riverside Green Area
On November 15 an extensive green area on the east side of the Tâmega River between the Engenheiro Carmona Bridge and the Public Gardens was opened to the public. It has a playground, pedestrian and cycling paths, and a large grassy area. An ultra-modern pedestrian bridge will soon be open linking the park of the hot springs and this new recreational area. At the same time a cycling and walking path has been built on both banks of the river extending north for several kilometers.
Forte São Francisco
Strongly protected by the defence of the border with Galicia, by the Middle Ages the medieval town of Chaves,became unprotected. It had to fortify itself, garrison the nearby hilltops, in order to keep them from being occupied by enemy artillery. The first to be considered was the hill of Pedisqueira, where there was a Franciscan convent. Decided during the final phase of the Portuguese Restoration War (1640-1668), to build a fort according to the modern concepts of military engineering. This fort played an important role in the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal in 1807 when it was captured by Marshall Soult and then retaken when a light garrison was left to guard it. It was also the scene of several pro-royalist revolts in the early eighteenth century and later in 1910.
The fort is standing in a reasonable state of preservation. The recent acquisition of the site by a hotel group directed by Comendador António Ramos and the construction of a four-star hotel using the old buildings has given new life to a ruined monument.
The fort is based on the Vauban system, with a four-pointed star, each one serving as a lookout tower. The walls are all of granite, with about one meter of thickness. The height varies according to the slope of the terrain, but the maximum point has 20 m. The main entrance faces the south, with a drawbridge over the moat that no longer exists. There are other gates, to the east and west. To go inside we follow a tunnel that leads to the center of the fort. Inside, besides the old church of São Francisco, where for three centuries lay the sarcophagus of the first Duke of Bragança, there are other buildings which have been artistically converted into hotel rooms. These had served the army as barracks for many years, and later were used to lodge families that had returned from the Portuguese colonies when these got their independence in the 1970s. A visit to the fort is well worth it, if not to stay in the hotel, but only to walk around the outside walls and contemplate the impressive view of Chaves.
Watch football ie soccer at GD Chaves, who play in Primeira Liga, the top tier of Portuguese football. Their home ground is Estádio Municipal de Chaves (capacity 8000), 1 km north of town centre.
There is a brand new casino.