View over the Douro River and Pinhão from Casal de Loivos

Douro River

The Douro is the 2nd longest river in the Iberian peninsula. Born in northern Spain at 2080 meters altitude in the province of Soria, on the peaks of the Sierra de Urbião (Sierra de Urbión) it travels 850 kms until his mouth in Portugal near the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

In Spain it passes near the cities of Soria, Aranda de Duero, Valladolid, Tordesillas and Zamora.

In International Douro, where the river marks the border between Portugal and Spain, it travels 112 kilometers, passing near the town of Miranda do Douro.

Portugal enters in Barca d'Alva, and runs for 213 kms until his mouth passing along the villages of Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Peso da Régua, and flowing to Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

The Douro, more than a river has long been one of the central artery of life in the region, being a channel essential for transporting wine and people. But the Douro was formerly a dangerous and untamed river where just the Rabelo boats could navigate. Full of shoals and currents it required great skill and experience to navigate. Those were different times, but times have changed. Today the Douro, with the construction of several dams along its course is now navigable and completely safe which has allowed its use for tourism through numerous cruises that travel daily.

Upriver, we can find several dams, 5 in Portugal, 5 in International Douro and 5 in Spain.

The dams in the Douro Portuguese territory are:
Crestuma-Lever Dam
Carrapatelo Dam
Régua (Bagaúste)
Valeira Dam
Pocinho Dam

In international Douro, where the river forms the border with Spain, there are 5 more dams: Saucelle, Aldeadávila, Bemposta, Picote and Miranda.

In Spain, the Douro has 5 more dams: Castro, Villalcampo, San José, Los Rábanos and Cuerda del Pozo.

The dams have enabled the creation of the Douro Navigation Channel, a waterway with about 200kms from Porto to Barca d'Alva wich provides safe navegation of the river. The dams also allow power generation and management of the river flow.

In the international section of the river the average slope is about 3m per kilometer, so here we find five dams on a stretch of 112 kilometers.

The origin of the name "Douro".

There are several theories to describe the name of the river Douro. One is that the name comes from the Celtic dur which means water. Another says it comes from the Latin duris meaning hard, the hardness of their contours along the high cliffs of Arribas Douro in the international section of the river between Barca D'Alva and Miranda do Douro.

It may also signify the wealth (d'Ouro means:made of Gold) he gives to the lands that surround it, the climate that allows the production of wine, fishing, irrigation of fields and means of transport between the villages on the riversides from immemorial times.

The Alto Douro wine region was considered by UNESCO on December 14, 2001 World Heritage in the category of cultural landscape.

Arribas do Douro. Internacional Douro.
photo: CGRM

O Douro near Pedorido - Castelo de Paiva

Carrapatelo Dam

Rabelo Boats in Gaia, the city of Porto and the D. Luis Bridge