Branda da Aveleira, one of the many existing leas in the region's highlands, has been used since the 12th century, in spring and summer, as a herding lea. Located near the Peneda-Gerês National Park, between the municipalities of Melgaço, Monção and Arcos de Valdevez, this lea was where the shepherds used to take their herds to during the hot days of summer, leaving the lowest lands to grow corn and bean. It’s not hard to imagine these greenish fields crowded with sheep, cows, horses and even goats.
Around the 60s and 70s, emigration almost drained the village but, some years later, the inhabitants returned and took advantage of EU funds to rebuild their houses for rural tourism. Nowadays, you’ll find there around eighty “cardenhas” (10 of them rebuilt for tourism), which are small rustic stone houses where shepherds slept, having the cattle on the lower floor to keep the upper floor warm. Walking along the parallel pathway which separates these houses, you'll find a small but delightful lake very appreciated in summer for nice baths.
A truly idyllic place you won’t easily forget.