Once again Our Lady of the TomTom is proving that she has a mind of her own… (or than again, maybe nothing in her little brain at all).
Our tour around this part of Northern Portugal takes is into a tiny village on a very steep hillside. After one wrong turn and a dead end and no other apparent exit to the village than the road we came in on, we decide to go into the centre of the village to ask for directions.
Talk about serendipity, because two corners later we stumble upon some fabulous buildings and a market in full swing, clearly something special is taking place here and wow, there are even a few tour buses so even though we feel like we are in the middle of nowhere, we are clearly “somewhere” worth visiting, (even if we are at present ignorant as to what that might be).
We know that we are in Portugal’s northern National Park, the Peneda-Gerés National Park, and what we are about to find out is that this village houses Our Lady of the Snows.
(Seems like Our Lady of the Tom Tom lead us here to see a kindred spirit of hers…)
There is an information board close by and via this I learn…
The patron saint of this sanctuary is Senhora das Neves (Our Lady of the Snows), an explicit reference to the local climate and whose image, according to tradition, was found long ago in a cave.
In her honour , there has been a pilgrimage here for many years, at the beginning of September.
The sanctuary is an example of religious architecture of the north west of Portugal from the 18th and 19 century.
The church and it’s associated buildings rise up majestically on the right bank of the River Peneda, in an area of great geomorphological interest. Marked by an impressive granite outcrop, known as Penedo da Meadinha.
We happen to be visiting at the beginning of September, hence the tour buses and market (although it’s clear that some of the shops are permanent)
Let’s have a look around…