Monção

The riverside town of Monção is a fortified border settlement with a long history of skirmishes with the Spanish. In town there are the remains of a 14th-century castle that withstood a desperate siege in 1368. When the Portuguese supplies ran low, a local woman baked some cakes with the last of the flour and sent them to the Spaniards with the message that there was plenty more where that came from. The bluff worked, the Spanish retreated, and the little cakes are still on sale in town. Try a glass of the local vinho verde, the increasingly well-known Portuguese wine available in local bars. Monção has a spa but it's aimed at sickly locals; for a modern "river spa," head 25 km (15 miles) east to Melgaço, a usually sleepy town with another 14th-century castle that livens up considerably on Friday, market day.

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