Our only reason for stopping in Vila Nova de Foz Côa was to see to nearby prehistoric rock art in the Côa Valley. As we were leaving the archeological site to walk the 4K back to town, a nice couple who shared our hike to the petroglyphs offered us a ride, so we ended up with an unexpected afternoon to see the town of Foz Côa.
Do you see a gazillion sunburned tourists swarming off a cruise ship in this photo? After the lovely but massively overtouristed Lisbon and Coimbra, Foz Côa (in the northeastern corner of Portugal close to Spain) was a relief and an architectural delight.
Foz Côa’s main square is one of those perfect human-sized spaces where the stark Mediterranean sun sharpens the architectural details against a crisp sky. That’s a Manueline pillory in the center—decorative now, but back in the day this is where they punished criminals.
Manueline designs always have rope details, a nod to the seafaring culture of these rabidly colonialist people.
As if it wasn’t enough that we got to spend the first half of the day looking at pre-historic rock art, then this church, Igreja Matriz, beckoned to us with a siren song of Manueline glory. (This unique sacred space will be getting a separate post.)
Formerly a synagogue, now Santa Quitéria is a chapel.
The town has integrated the rock designs into their infrastructure, including this charming beast in the cobblestones of the pedestrian street.
Even the graffiti incorporates the prehistoric art. While no one knows the exact date the rock artworks were created, it is fairly easy to date this masterwork by the Paleolithic cell phone over on the right.
This ad was posted on the outside of a pharmacy. I guess if you live in Foz Côa you get your ya-ya’s out by bouncing on a cow-udder ball with grandma. Hey, I’m not here to judge.
For dinner HOB and I ran into a few shops. I made the universal sign for “small wedge of cheese” to a shopkeeper and she proceeded to give me twice what I indicated. We ate it all, along with cracked green olives, on the balcony of our hotel room.