The Peneda-Gerês National Park, also known simply as Gerês, is the only national park in Portugal (although many natural parks, protected landscapes, and reserves exist across the nation). It is located in the Northern region, in the northwest of Portugal.
The park was created on 8 May 1971 due to its national and international scientific interest, with the aim to protect the soil, water, flora, fauna, and landscape, while preserving its value to the existent human and natural resources. Education and tourism are also goals of the park.
This beautiful national park will have you exploring picturesque ancient villages in the foothills of the Amarela Mountains. You will view community farming practices using terraced plots and vineyards. You may even see some long-horned cattle and sheep as they wander grazing the countryside.
Garrano ponies are among the park’s most famous inhabitants. These wild animals have been native to the region since the Celtic era during the first millennium B.C.—but extensive domestication nearly wiped them out in the mid-20th century. The Portuguese government began to rebuild the herds in the 1940s in the area of what is now the national park.
This part of the Iberian Peninsula has an ancient history of human habitation, as evidenced by megalithic stone tombs dating to the third century, Celtic fortifications dotting the hilltops, and a well-preserved first-century Roman road that crosses the park and remains popular with cyclists. Castles, monasteries and the The Espigueiros of Soajo are enduring relics of medieval times.