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Ponte de Lima

July 25th 2014
  • In a tiny municipality in the northernmost part of Portugal lies the painfully pretty Ponte de Lima.

    A site of great import to Romans in their infrastructure assembling heyday, the little town is known to be one of the oldest in the entire country and, as such, has a number of charmingly archaic attractions to write home about; from centuries old fountains and ornamental gardens to picturesque churches and ravishing rococo mansions.

    Though there is plenty to draw the attention of visitors, it is often the settlement’s arching stone bridge that garners the most interest. Extending across the River Limia, in a series of curves which seem to bounce upon the water, the crossing marks a legendary locus where myth and reality once met.

    The river was thought by Romans, following Greek teachings, to be the real world equivalent of Lethe – one of the five tributaries of the Underworld – which imbued any who drank from or passed over it with permanent forgetfulness. Happening across this spot, a general and his men became frightened to make the crossing, before the former set out alone determined to disprove the stories of local lore. On reaching the other side, he called out to each of his soldiers by name, forever undermining the power of the memory-sapping waters. Though it has been a few thousand years since that day, some still remain wary.

    Aside from the antiquities, bargain hunters and those searching for the perfect souvenir may wish to revel in one of the famously huge markets – held every second Monday of the month – where stalls brim-full of foods, clothing and locally crafted knick knacks should provide hours of gleeful rummaging.

Image Credit: Paulo Roque