An evocative submerged village that only resurfaces when it is dry

Lost between the mountains of Gerês and Amarela in Portugal’s Minho region, it still emerges from the waters during particularly dry periods. charming village whose walls, now in ruins, tell the story of 2,000 years.

It is about Vilarinho of Furna (or Vilarinho das Furnas), a hamlet in the municipality of Terras de Bouro, Braga District, Portugal. Today it is defined as “defunct municipality“, submerged by the waters of the reservoir of the same name, but it is not quite so: in fact, the remains preserved to this day, doors, windows and ancient walls, keep its memory alive.

The story of a Portuguese village now underwater

There are no certain elements on the date of establishment of Vilarinho da Furna, however, oral sources state that the village was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD and which prospered for centuries and boasted great ethnographic wealth.

Then, in 1967, when it had almost 300 inhabitants distributed in 80 houses, it started dam construction to provide hydropower to the entire region. It was at that moment that the fate of Vilarinho da Furna changed radically: during the protests, the Electric Company paid the residents for leave their homesas the new basin would completely submerge the ancient village and flood the Homen river areas.

In 1971, the last resident left his home and the following year Vilarinho was swallowed by the water out of sight, but not forever.

From time to time, when the dam is drained for cleaning and maintenance or the season is very dry bare walls, roads and walls of the old village return to the light showing itself in all its decadent charm and attracting the attention of many curious visitors.

The families that had to move are now scattered across the different lands of the Braga districts, and the land in Vilarinho da Furna still belongs to their descendants, but the dam can be used exclusively by the Portuguese state.

A museum that protects its ethnographic heritage

Along with the village, a considerable ethnographic heritage was submerged in 1972, but it is today protected and represented in the exhibition itinerary dedicated museum with special reference to agro pastoral activityto experiences, to homes, to community spirit of its people and countless stories from the past.

A museum built near São João do Campo from the stones of two houses in Vilarinho and inaugurated by Prime Minister Cavaco Silva on May 14, 1989it houses an interesting collection of clothing, farm implements and paintings depicting everyday village life.

Useful information

The story of Vilarinho da Furna, even if he was buried under water, did not disappear.

In addition to the museum, there have been many over the years commemorative initiatives and as already mentioned, when the level of the reservoir drops, the “ghost town” or “Portuguese Atlantis” still appears to the delight and surprise of residents and tourists.

Local residents with boats with a transparent bottom they offer the possibility of approaching the village and trying to see the ruins: but as the water level fluctuates, it is dangerous to get too close and it is better to wait for the dry season.



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