Welcome to Amarante
All visitors to Amarante will most certainly be impressed by two imposing natural features: the great Serra do Marão rising above the city in a series of majestic landscapes and the river Tâmega, the longest tributary of the river Douro, whose journey begins in Galicia and which flows through the heart of Amarante, giving added colour to the picturesque houses standing on its banks. Some historians have attributed the foundation of this transitional city linking the provinces of Minho and Trás-os-Montes to a Roman centurion by the name of Amarantus. In the thirteenth century, St Gonçalo, a Benedictine monk and popular saint, arrived in this area, where he eventually settled after completing a pilgrimage to Italy and Jerusalem, later becoming the city´s patron saint. He is accredited with the building of a sturdy bridge over the Tâmega on the same site as the current one. The bridge at Amarante perpetuates the memory of the local population´s heroic resistance against Napoleon's troops, who invaded Portugal in the early nineteenth century. In view of its position as a major gateway to the region of Trás-os-Montes, the city was besieged by Marshal Soult, although he met with stiff opposition from the local inhabitants, who bravely withstood his fierce attacks for a fortnight, until finally surrendering when the French bombarded them with barrels of gunpowder.