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“Very well organized. Guided tour quite amusing” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Parque Arqueologico do Vale de Coa / Museu do Coa

Parque Arqueologico do Vale de Coa / Museu do Coa
Rua do Museu, Vila Nova de Foz Coa P-5150-610, Portugal
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Type: Specialty Museums
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Attraction Details
Owner description: In the mountains of northeast Portugal, a region of extensive olive groves and where the almond trees blossom in spring (February and March) and the vineyards in autumn (September and October) are covered by leaves the colour of fire, there is a tributary of the River Douro with a universally recognised name: Côa. It is so well known due to the expressive art that fills the valley this river has gouged out of the rock. The schist rocks that occupy the valley have been converted into art canvases over thousands of years, being used for engravings that are the legacy of our ancestors’ creative instinct.These open-air panels and the habitats that can be identified date back to the Upper Palaeolithic and they are testimony to the occupation of the land and a vitality and mastery of drawing that have given us a 25,000 year timeline. This long gallery of art provides us a record of the Neolithic period and the Iron Age, then swiftly racing through two thousand years of history to inscribe religious representations, names and dates in the Modern Age and continuing until only a few decades ago.The motifs, which are nearly all engraved, have themes and use techniques and conventions that are common to contemporary works of Western Europe and those that would be discovered in the 19th century in the closed-in environments of caves in France and Cantabria, which would be called great art at the turn of the century. The Côa art emerges in the 20th century, where a daily and seasonal play of light and dark exposes and hides the art in a wonderful sequence of revelation and concealment.The final seventeen kilometres of the Côa valley contain hundreds of Palaeolithic engravings along the river’s banks, extending all the way to the River Douro. This zone has been made into Portugal’s first Archaeological Park. This Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 2 December 1998. This entire open-air art collection, which buries the old myth of rock art only existing in caves, is exhibited in the Museum through original pieces of movable art, replicas of “rock panels” and interactive zones that use modern digital technology. The art can also be viewed in loco on organised visits to the valley with specialised guides (advance booking required). During the Architecture International Year, the Portuguese Ministry of Culture and the Association of Architects sponsored a tendering procedure with the aim of selecting a project for the construction of the Côa Valley Art and Archaeology Museum. First prize was given to the team coordinated by the architects Pedro Pimentel and Camilo Rebelo, from Porto.
The building and exhibition projects were developed from the original winning proposal. “The evolution of the museum body – whilst metamorphic prosthetic – aims to embed the building into the landscape. Therefore, it is a strong and affirmative gesture but also a subtle intervention, adapted to the topography and in dialogue with the surrounding landscape.” The building is four stories high (roof/Floor 2, Floor 1, Floor 0 and Floor -1) organized in a particular system of vertical and horizontal connections. The roof possesses a parking space and offers a scenic view of the landscape. Two elevators and a staircase directly connect the roof to the museum’s lobby. Floor 0, where the permanent and temporary exhibitions are located, is structured by a ramp/corridor that crosses the entire body of the building. “At the end of the ramp’s first section, stands a connection hub that distributes visitors towards different parts of the Museum.”
Oeiras, Portugal
Top Contributor
51 reviews 51 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Very well organized. Guided tour quite amusing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

The guided tour was quite amusing and the museum collection very well organized. I do recommend a visit to the museum, as well as, a visit to to one of the rock art sites, available.
Price for the museum and rock art sites are really fair!

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 reviews from our community

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Faro, Portugal
Top Contributor
80 reviews 80 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
“Great architecture, unique setting, superb conception and museology”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

The Museu do Coa is a great way to help interpret and understand the rock engravings dated 20000 years back, found in the region a couple of decades ago. Pleasant, fun, educational. An absolute must!

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
56 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
“Time travel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2012

Great walk to the site where you can admire those drawings from 20.000 years ago. Unbelievable! A must do!

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
easter ross
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“A stunning and essential experience for all humans”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 20, 2012

This is a first class museum with interesting views of the World Heritage site of the Coa valley. Only one euro on Sunday's we were able to view both the story of the discovery of the rock carvings but also see some small carvings. The museum has some very informative and detailed displays and books available in the shop.
The original sites can be viewed by booking a tour. This can be done by 'phone in advance . Being taken to the sites and having them explained by a very helpful and knowledgeable guide was a moving experience. Not only are these original between 20 and some cases 30,000 years old but the sit as they have always done unprotrotected and visible.
AS we struggle for resources as 7 billion humans it was a good to reflection on a time when only 5 million of us were on the planet.
The purpose of the carvings is not clear but they are well worth the effort to travel to Portugal to see.
Some of teh tours require stout footwear, however the Penacosa site is flat and does not require such robust footwear.

Visited May 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Porto, Portugal
Top Contributor
141 reviews 141 reviews
41 attraction reviews
Reviews in 70 cities Reviews in 70 cities
320 helpful votes 320 helpful votes
“Rock figures evening tour”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2011

The 3 ancient rock figures spots of the Parque Arqueológico do Vale de Coa (River Coa valley archaelogical park) are within a 15 minutes car journey from Fozcoa village.
The Pre-historic rock figures spots guided tours are a truly ‘must do’, a great experience and return to the past with amazing figures on rocks made between 20.000 and 10.000 years ago, all them very well explained by the national protected park oficial guides (world heritage).
There are 3 spots to visit: Canada do Inferno, Penascosa (at Castelo Melhor) and Ribeira de Piscos (at Muxagata). Both Canada do Inferno and Ribeira de Piscos are at the left side of river Coa, so the visits are at mornings (entire morning for each one); Penascosa, being at the right side of the river, is better seen in the afternoon, as well at evening in the special guided night tour with special lights through the rocks. The tickets can be purchased at the Coa Museum (8,50€ day tour, 17€ evening tour)
After doing the day tours some years ago, I now chose the evening tour and it was a great experience indeed. We meet Doniria - our guide from the ‘Sabor, Douro & Aventura’ (www.sabordouro.com), one of the companies making the tours - at the Castelo Melhor meeting point. Doniria led us on a 4x4 vehicle for some minutes to the river Coa while explaining the rock figures story, then we had the oportunity to admire the Pre-historical figures enlighted by her special skimming lights. It's a 2 and a half/3 hours visit starting at 18:30/19:00, better to take a warm coat to protect from the night river humidity.
Doniria oriented tour, the enlighted rock figures, the dark sky full of stars enlighted by full moon… great experience indeed. Don’t miss it when going to Fozcoa.

Visited October 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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