Viana do Castelo is perfectly located neighboring green hills, the Lima river and the ocean. It is about 65 kms North of Porto, famous for its wine, and North-West from Guimarães, birthplace of Portugal and European Capital of Culture in 2012. Both towns are classified by UNESCO as World Heritage.
Its well- preserved historical center exhibits a harmonious mixture of architectonic styles, from gothic to art-déco, with beautiful manor houses and tile panels (azulejos). The nearby ruins of the Iron Age settlement "citânia de Sta. Luzia", the medieval center and Gustave Eiffel's iron bridge are further distinctive marks of this lovely town where the extremes meet.

"The legend of Lima"
The beautiful and calm waters of the Lima are responsible for a great deal of romantic literature and poetry as well as some legends. One of the most interesting legends is that which associates the Lima River to the Greeks' River of Oblivion:

It was the year 137 BC when Roman legions, led by Decimus Junius Brutus, set out from Lusitania to conquer Galicia. As they reached the banks of the Lima, the soldiers were so overcome by the beauty and serenity of its waters that they feared they had reached the gates of paradise and were at the banks of the Lethes River or the River of Oblivion - if they crossed it they would forget everything.

According to Greek tradition, the Lethes was one of the five rivers of Hades, with beautiful and serene waters, located in the west, beyond the known world. All this gave the Roman soldiers reasons to believe that the river in front of them could well be the River of Oblivion. They therefore disobeyed the orders of their commander when he told them to cross to the other bank. No soldier wanted to run the risk of forgetting his past life, his family or his birthplace. So, Decimus Junius Brutus was obliged to make the crossing alone. Once he reached the north bank, he called his men one by one by their names, proving in this way that the contact with the waters of the Lima had not made him forget the past.

Map of the Viana do Castelo.