Douro

Douro

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The Douro or Duero is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

, flowing from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra
Duruelo de la Sierra
Duruelo de la Sierra is a municipality of Spain, in the province of Soria, Autonomous Community of Castile and León - Population :...

 in Soria Province across northern-central Spain and Portugal to its outlet at Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

. Its total length is 897 km
1 E5 m
A length of 100 kilometers , as a rough amount, is relatively common in measurements on Earth and for some astronomical objects.It is the altitude at which the FAI defines spaceflight to begin....

, of which only sections of the Portuguese reaches of the river are navigable, by light rivercraft.

It is the third largest river in the Iberian Peninsula after the Tagus and Ebro
Ebro
The Ebro or Ebre is one of the most important rivers in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the biggest river by discharge volume in Spain.The Ebro flows through the following cities:*Reinosa in Cantabria.*Miranda de Ebro in Castile and León....



The name, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

ized Durius, may have come from the Celtic tribes
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

 that inhabited the area before Roman times: the Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 root is *dubro- and in modern Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

 dwr is "water" with cognate dobhar in Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

.

In its Spanish section, the Duero crosses the great Castilian
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

 meseta
Meseta
Meseta may refer to:*Meseta Central , the high plains of central Spain*Meseta , partially collapsed volcanic vent of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala*Meseta, fictional currency of the Phantasy Star video game series...

and meanders through five significant provinces of the autonomous community of Castile and León
Castile and León
Castile and León is an autonomous community in north-western Spain. It was so constituted in 1983 and it comprises the historical regions of León and Old Castile...

: Soria, Burgos, Valladolid, Zamora, and Salamanca, passing through the towns of Soria
Soria
Soria is a city in north-central Spain, the capital of the province of Soria in the autonomous community of Castile and León. , the municipality has a population of c. 39,500 inhabitants, nearly 40% of the population of the province...

, Almazán
Almazán
Almazán is a municipality located in the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 5,755 inhabitants.- External links :*...

, Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero is a Spanish town and municipality in the south of the province of Burgos, autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of roughly 33,000 people. The post code for the town is 09400. The closest airport is in Valladolid....

, Tordesillas
Tordesillas
Tordesillas is a town and municipality in the province of Valladolid, Castile and León, central Spain.It is located 25 km southwest of the provincial capital, Valladolid at an elevation of 704 meters. The population was c. 9,000 in 2009....

, and Zamora
Zamora, Spain
Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier...

.

In this region, there are few large tributaries of the Duero. The most important are the Pisuerga, passing through Valladolid
Valladolid
Valladolid is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales...

, and the Esla, which passes through Zamora. This region, for the most part, is one of semi-arid plains planted with wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and in some places, especially near Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero is a Spanish town and municipality in the south of the province of Burgos, autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of roughly 33,000 people. The post code for the town is 09400. The closest airport is in Valladolid....

, in wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

 grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s, in the Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero is a Spanish Denominación de Origen located in the country's northern plateau and is one of eleven 'quality wine' regions within the autonomous community of Castile and León...

 wine region. Sheep rearing is also still important.

Then, for 112 km, the river forms part of the national border line between Spain and Portugal, in a region of narrow canyon
Canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

s, making it an historical barrier for invasions and a linguistic dividing line. This isolated area, in which the Aldeadávila Dam
Aldeadávila Dam
Aldeadávila Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Douro River on the border between Spain and Portugal. The Douro River forms the international boundary between Portugal and Spain. The nearest Spanish town is Aldeadávila de la Ribera in the Province of Salamanca, about to the east...

 impounds the river, has now a protected status: the International Douro Natural Park
International Douro Natural Park
The International Douro Natural Park is one of the thirteen natural parks of Portugal. It is located in the municipalities of Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, spanning through a wide area along the Douro River as it makes the border between...

 on the Portuguese side, los Arribes del Duero Natural Park
Arribes del Duero Natural Park
Arribes del Duero Natural Park is a protected area in western Spain, covering 106.105 ha in the autonomous community of Castile and León. In this area the river Duero forms the national boundary between Spain and Portugal, and the Portugal side is also protected under the figure of International...

 on the Zamoran bank. The Douro fully enters Portuguese territory just after the confluence with the Águeda River
Águeda River
The Águeda is a river tributary of the Douro River, that springs from the Serra das Mesas in Spain, in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It flows 130 kilometers until it reaches the Douro River near Barca de Alva, Portugal. The Águeda makes a natural border between Portugal and Spain...

.

Once the Douro enters Portugal, major population centres are less frequent. Except for Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

 and Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia is a city in Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality, Portugal. It is located in the Porto District, south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper has a population of 178,255 and the municipality contains 24 parishes with a total...

 at the river mouth, the only population centres of any note are Foz do Tua
Foz do Tua
Foz do Tua is a small village in Portugal on the right bank of the Douro river,near the town of Carrazeda de Ansiães,in the Bragança district. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful and important Farms in the Douro Valley - Quinta do Tua , Quinta dos Aciprestes and Quinta dos Malvedos...

, Pinhão and Peso da Régua
Peso da Régua
Peso da Régua , commonly known as Régua, is a municipality in northern Portugal, in the district of Vila Real. With a total area of , extended over 12 parishes, its population included 17,987 inhabitants .-History:Peso da Régua was inhabited by Roman and barbarian invasions during the early part of...

. Tributaries are small and flow into canyons to enter the larger river. The most important are Côa River
Coa River
The Côa River is a tributary of the Douro River, in central and northeastern Portugal. It is one of the few Portuguese rivers that flows south to north...

, Tua River, Sabor River, Corgo River, Tavora River, Paiva River, Tâmega River, and Sousa River. None of these small, fast flowing rivers are navigable. The Douro vinhateiro, an area of the Douro Valley in Portugal, has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

These reaches of the Douro have a microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

allowing for cultivation of olive
Olive
The olive , Olea europaea), is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea.Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the...

s, almond
Almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...

s, and especially grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s that are important for making the famous Port wine
Port wine
Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties...

. The region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira
São João da Pesqueira
São João da Pesqueira is a municipality in Portugal with a total area of 266.1 km² and a total population of 8,367 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 14 parishes and is located in the district Viseu....

 is considered to be the centre of Port wine, with its picturesque quintas or farms clinging on to almost vertical slopes dropping down to the river. Many of these quintas are owned by multinational wine companies.

Traditionally, the wine was taken down river in flat-bottom boats called rabelos to be stored in barrels in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia is a city in Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality, Portugal. It is located in the Porto District, south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper has a population of 178,255 and the municipality contains 24 parishes with a total...

, just across the river from Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

. In the 1950s and 1960s, dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s were built along the river ending this river traffic on Spanish and border sections. Now Port wine is transported in tanker trucks.

There are five dams on the Portuguese Douro alone functioning to make the flow of water uniform, generate hydroelectric power, and allow navigation. Ships with maximum length 83 m and width 11.4 m can pass through five locks. The highest one on Carrapatelo dam has a maximum lift 35 meters. Level of Pocinho lake reaches 125 m a.s.l. Recently, a prosperous tourist
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 industry has developed based on river excursions from Porto to points along the Upper Douro valley.
In Portugal, the Douro flows through the districts of Bragança, Guarda, Viseu, Vila Real, Aveiro and Porto
Porto District
The District of Porto , sometimes Oporto in English, is located on the north-west coast of Portugal. The district capital is the city of Porto, the second largest city in the country...

. Porto is the main hub city in northern Portugal and its historic centre is declared as a UNESCO monumental place.

The railway Linha do Douro connects Porto, Rio Tinto, Ermesinde, Valongo, Paredes, Penafiel, Livração, Marco de Canaveses, Régua, Tua and Pocinho. Pocinho is near the city of Foz Côa, which is close to Vale Arqueológico do Côa, (an Archaeological pre-historic patrimony) another UNESCO Heritage Sight.

Major Spanish riverside towns include Soria
Soria
Soria is a city in north-central Spain, the capital of the province of Soria in the autonomous community of Castile and León. , the municipality has a population of c. 39,500 inhabitants, nearly 40% of the population of the province...

, Almazán
Almazán
Almazán is a municipality located in the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2004 census , the municipality has a population of 5,755 inhabitants.- External links :*...

, Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero
Aranda de Duero is a Spanish town and municipality in the south of the province of Burgos, autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of roughly 33,000 people. The post code for the town is 09400. The closest airport is in Valladolid....

, Tordesillas
Tordesillas
Tordesillas is a town and municipality in the province of Valladolid, Castile and León, central Spain.It is located 25 km southwest of the provincial capital, Valladolid at an elevation of 704 meters. The population was c. 9,000 in 2009....

, Zamora
Zamora, Spain
Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier...

 and major Portuguese towns include Miranda do Douro
Miranda do Douro
Miranda do Douro or Miranda de l Douro , is a city in Miranda do Douro Municipality, district of Bragança, Portugal.The city has a population of 1,960.-General information:...

, Foz Côa, Peso da Régua
Peso da Régua
Peso da Régua , commonly known as Régua, is a municipality in northern Portugal, in the district of Vila Real. With a total area of , extended over 12 parishes, its population included 17,987 inhabitants .-History:Peso da Régua was inhabited by Roman and barbarian invasions during the early part of...

, Lamego
Lamego
Lamego is a municipality in northern Portugal, with a population of 27,054 inhabitants Lamego is a municipality in northern Portugal, with a population of 27,054 inhabitants Lamego is a municipality in northern Portugal, with a population of 27,054 inhabitants (the catchment of the city of...

, Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia is a city in Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality, Portugal. It is located in the Porto District, south of the city of Porto on the other side of the Douro River. The city proper has a population of 178,255 and the municipality contains 24 parishes with a total...

, and Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

.

The most populous cities along the Douro River are Valladolid, Zamora in Spain and Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal. The latter two are located at the mouth of the Douro.

External links