Situated in idyllic surroundings between Porto and the Douro Valley sits Casa da Calçada, a former Conde de Redondo palace that has been transformed into a beautiful Relais & Châteaux luxury 5-star palace. Casa da Calçada is the jewel in the crown of Amarante, a charming town steeped in Baroque history that really knows how to welcome its guests.
Charming and hospitable, this romantic hotel’s rich heritage dates back to the 16th century; its elegant, enchanting Neoclassical features transport guests back to an era renowned for its opulence and grandeur.
The building itself is recognised as a place of special architectonic, historical and cultural significance, and you only have to glance back into its illustrious past to understand why.
Casa da Calçada was originally home to the Count of Redondo, and during the French invasions the allied commandos of Portugal and England settled here. In 1880 António do Lago Cerqueira, one of the most important political leaders of the First Republic, was born in the palace. Today, the palace welcomes guests from around the world.
What to expect from your stay
Casa da Calçada contains a selection of classically designed, accessible rooms, each with its own unique character and timeless appeal. Guests can choose from four room types: executive, luxury, superior luxury and presidential.
Stylish yet comfortable and accommodating, rooms look out onto stunning views of the emerald Tâmega River and surrounding scenes of natural beauty, making them perfect for special occasions and romantic getaways.
Although rooms vary in size and amenities, guests will quickly realise that every single detail pertaining to both design and service has been artfully thought-out, resulting in an experience that feels authentic and satisfying to the highest degree. Several rooms also feature a privileged view of the Tamega River, which is a site to behold:
Of course, there is much more to Casa da Calçada than the rooms; the palace grounds themselves have so much to offer in the way of relaxation and entertainment.
Also nestled within the palace walls of Casa da Calçada is a glorious garden of eden that guests can peruse at their leisure.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the hotel’s main attractions.
Dining & drinking in style
Largo do Paço
There’s no such things as a forbidden pleasure at Casa da Calçada’s very own Michelin-starred restaurant Largo do Paço, which serves up award-winning local and Portuguese fare to hotel guests and visitors to the region.
The restaurant is led by Executive Chef Tiago Bonito who is a fan of contradiction in culinary pursuits, believing that opposites can attract to create something extraordinary – poetic even.
As with any great restaurant, the menus change depending on the season to ensure that only the freshest and most organically-sourced ingredients are used. In terms of design, Largo do Paço’s decor matches the timeless elegance of Casa da Calçada’s.
Introducing Casa da Calçada and Largo do Paço own wines: Quinta da Calçada
No palace is complete without its own vintage, which is why Casa da Calçada has its very own selection of Quinta da Calçada wines.
Quinta has been lovingly produced using sustainable methods since 1917, making it the oldest certified wine of the Vinho Verde region, which similarly to the Champagne region of France, Vinho Verde can only be grown in the Minho region, in Portugal. The Quinta da Calçada’s vineyard winds its way through 50 hectares of glorious sun-soaked land, and produces a beautiful, sparkling white wine.
Hotel guests have the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the region’s gastronomic heritage by taking part in one of two popular workshops.
One of the available workshops, “Being a Michelin Chef for the Day” gives participants a taste of what it takes to create a premium culinary masterpiece, and is conducted by the very same Michelin Star Chef mentioned above, Tiago Bonito.
The second available workshop teaches participants the process behind brewing homemade beer.
From art and architecture to vineyards and views, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Amarante. Let’s take a look at just a few of the city’s main highlights.
It’d be rude not to savour everything the town has to offer regarding wine, especially when you consider that Amarante is at the epicentre of the Green Wine region and has been producing it for over a century.
Visitors can book tours of Quinta da Aveleda, Quinta do Ameal and other locations, with the option to have lunch included. We’d highly recommend dedicating a day to the cause!
São Gonçalo Bridge
Many see the Ponte de São Gonçalo as the focal point of Amarante’s historic centre. Located on the river Tâmega, the bridge spans 50 meters in length and is bookmarked by two baroque obelisks bearing epigraphic inscriptions that tell stories of the bridge’s construction and the heroic episode of resistance to the French invasion.
Visitors can admire the bridge and the town’s other landmarks by taking a ride – or row – down the river in a style of boat called ‘Guigas’, built 30 years ago by the local locksmith, José Aguiar.
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso Museum
Art connoisseurs will enjoy a visit to the Amadeo de Souza Cardoso Museum, built in a former convent. The gallery contains both temporary and permanent exhibitions, including the winners of the Amadeo Souza Cardoso.
Two rooms are dedicated to the work of Paula Rego who gave the museum its name and another room is dedicated to the Amarante-born photographer Eduardo Teixeira Pinto.
Solar de Magalhães
This site of historical significance dates back to the second half of the 16th century and only its outer walls remain. It is seen as a symbol of resistance to French invasions, and unlike other buildings, the Solar has never been rebuilt.
Amarante’s Municipal Market
The market’s esplanade overlooks the historic city center, making it a great place for a bite to eat at lunchtime or to get picnic supplies in preparation for a leisurely walk around the Douro Valley. This is where you can really get a flavour for Amarante’s culture, past and present.
Church of São Gonçalo
Built in 1540 at the request of King João III, São Gonçalo is one of the city’s most iconic churches. It is believed that Saint Gonçalo is buried here, and in order to position the altar over the saint’s tomb, the church was built contrary to what is normal and the main entrance is on the side.
The interior of the church is Baroque in style and today it also acts as a venue for the Northeastern Orchestra.
Bike ride down the Tamega Line
The Tâmega Line, initially called the Tâmega Valley Railroad, is about 40km long and runs along one of the most picturesque routes in the country.
Nowadays people use it to go from Amarante to Arco de Baúlhe on foot or by bicycle. It’s a great way to experience the region’s historical and natural heritage: villages, bridges and the lush green landscapes that surround the river Tâmega.
Suggested itinerary for the Douro region
Visitors could spend weeks exploring this little corner of the world, but here’s a handful of suggestions for how to spend the days.
Start the trip in Porto, a charming coastal city in northwest Portugal renowned for its stately bridges, port wine production and bustling Medieval streets. After a visit to the port wine lodges, take a break at one of the Ribeira district’s waterfront cafes before hopping on the vintage train tram to the beach at Foz Do Douro.
After spending the night in Porto, head 22 miles east by hire car to Penafiel, a town nestled among the hills of the Norte Region. The town itself is best explored on foot, from the hilltop villages dating back to the Bronze age to modern attractions such as the Termas de São Vicente.
But to really get a taste for the region, head to Quinta da Aveleda to sample vinho verde. The estate dates back to the 17th century and is the birthplace of Casal Garcia, one of the most famous Vinho Verde brands.
After Penafiel, travel to Amarante to take in all this enchanting town has to offer (see above for details). Before settling down for the night at Casa da Calçada, be sure to book a spot at the famous Largo do Paço restaurant, hidden within the palace walls.
Dedicate a whole day (or two) to exploring the Douro region and its exquisite vineyards. Go wine tasting at Quinta Rabelo and take a boat trip on the Tua. Premium restaurants come highly recommended as a place for lunch, and a ride on the scenic train between Tua and Pinhão is a must.
Hop over to Braga and Guimarães for the day before returning to Casa da Calçada in the evening. The two stunning towns are rivals in football but are of equal beauty when it comes to architecture and scenery.
Braga is about a 50 minute drive from Amarante and is known as the city of archbishops. Visit Bom Jesus Church in the center of the city and the Cathedral. In neighbouring Guimarães, the castle is a must-see, as is Paço dos Duques, the Chapel of São Miguel and the town’s historical centre.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide.
Start planning your trip and book your stay at Casa da Calçada today, and see you soon!