The Valença fortress was built in the early 13th century to counterbalance Tui across the river Minho (the frontier between present-day Portugal and Spain), at the site of a Roman crossroads (the military XIX, which pilgrims still follow these days from the South, and the commercial XX). At that time, relations were quite strained between Portugal and its neighbors Galicia and León. The settlement was renamed from Contrasta (clearly reflecting its relation to Tui) to Valença in 1262. It served a decisive role in defending Portugal from various Spanish kingdoms throughout the centuries.
The old town is characterized by narrow stone-paved streets with small shops selling traditional handicrafts and modern cloth goods, which seem to be rather popular among the residents of Tui.
Between 1879 and 1886, a bi-functional (road and train) bridge named the International Bridge was constructed over the river Minho under the direction of Gustave Eiffel. This bridge is across; today, pilgrims walk out of Valença and into Galicia.
Accommodation in Valença
|Hotel name||Type||Price range||Room type||Other|
|Alvorada Medieval||Hostel||Budget||Shared rooms||Breakfast included, Swimming pool, Taverna, WiFi, Garden, Non-smoking rooms|
|Hostel Bulwark||Hostel||Budget||Shared rooms||Breakfast included, Shared kitchen, WiFi, Shared lounge, Bar, Tea/coffee maker in all rooms|
|Hotel MABI||Hotel||Mid-range||Private rooms||Breakfast included, Swimming pool, Shared lounge, Facilities for disabled guests, Non-smoking rooms, WiFi, Balcony|
|Pousada de Valença||Hotel||Splurge||Private rooms||Breakfast included, Restaurant, Lounge, WiFi|
What to see in Valença
The 13th-century fortress received its current and very well-preserved look, with the addition of bulwarks, ramparts, and bastions, in the 17th and 18th centuries, in the Vauban style. It consists of two separate forts (the Praça and the Coroada), separated by a ditch and four gates. Several old cannons are still on display along the wall facing Tui.
Within the fortress is a Roman milestone marking the 42nd (Roman) mile on the road connecting Braga and Tui, as well as recording the name of the reigning emperor of the time, Claudius.