Portugal – Aqueducts and Francesinha

The castle and town of Obidos are situated on a steep hill and at the bottom, outside of the city walls there is a sixteenth century  aqueduct which runs for two miles and was constructed to supply water to two fountains in the town.

It wasn’t especially tall or very memorable but I have visited other aqueducts in Portugal which are,…

…. this one is near the city of Tomar, north of Lisbon…


The Aqueduct of Pegões is, it turns out a little known monument and therefore very little visited, totally free access and no tourists.

It was built to bring water to the Convent of Christ in Tomar and is an amazing monument just over about six kilometers long and in some parts reaching a height of a hundred foot or so and made of one hundred and eighty arches and fifty-eight arcs at the most elevated part.  The construction started in 1593 and finished 1614 and it is the biggest and most important construction of the Philip I kingdom in Portugal.  Wow, who knew that, even the Tourist Information Office doesn’t give it a lot of headline space.

It was a quite astonishing place, no one there but us and some occasional ramblers.  There was no entrance fee and just like Obidos Castle  no safety barriers and nothing to stop visitors from climbing to the top and carelessly falling over the edge.  We climbed to the top and walked a short way out along the elevated section until we realised that this was quite dangerous so after walking out further than was really sensible and clinging desperately to the stones for security we groped our way back to safety and returned to ground level.

This one is in Vila do Conde, near Porto…

Next to the convent and snaking north away from the town are the extensive remains of the Aqueduto do Convento, a sixteenth century structure that was built to supply water to the Convent.  At four kilometres long it is claimed to be the second largest in Portugal after Lisbon but I have been to Tomar and their aqueduct is measured at six kilometres.

I am not taking sides, I am just saying.

The longest aqueduct ever (or so I am told ) was a Roman structure of Two hundred and fifty miles or so into Constantinople.  At one hundred and sixty feet the highest  is the Roman aqueduct at Nimes in France.   The tallest and longest in the UK is the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee in North Wales.

And this one is at Elvas, close to the border with Spain…

The Amoreira Aqueduct has a length of over seven thousand metres from its spring in the nearby mountains.  It is the longest and tallest aqueduct in Iberia. It is a truly impressive piece of sixteenth century architecture that was constructed to supply the frontier garrison with fresh water as the city wells became inadequate and one-by-one dried up.

Later that evening we returned to the same restaurant and they proudly announced that it was speciality Francesinha day.  In 2006 I visited Porto and had Francesinha and promptly vowed that I would never do it again.  So I completely unable to explain why I selected it from the menu.

Francesinha is a signature dish of Porto and is a massive sandwich made with toasted bread, wet-cured ham, smoked sausage and steak and then, if all of that isn’t enough, covered with molten cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce all of which contains an average persons calorie allowance for an entire month – and then some.  And it comes with chips!

Francesinha means Little French Girl in Portuguese and it is said to be an invention in the 1960s of a man called Daniel da Silva, a returned emigrant from France and Belgium who tried to adapt the croque-monsieur to Portuguese taste.  It doesn’t look very much like a croque-monsieur to me, I can tell you.

I have to say that it was after all rather tasty but there was just too much of it so I had to eat what I could, the best bits obviously and then make a judgement about how much I could leave on the plate without looking rude.  I gave the chips to my travelling companions  in return for a promise to stop me if I looked like ordering it again at any time this week.

I rather like a good croque-monsieur  but it has to be in France and it has to look like this…

In future I am certain that the only time that I would consider a Franceshina is if it is a choice between that and a Poutine from Canada…

Other than Francesinha or Poutine which food dish would you nominate to avoid?

Here are some prompts…


48 responses to “Portugal – Aqueducts and Francesinha

  1. There doesn’t seem much point in Iles flottantes to me

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good grief, the engineering and labour that went into aqueducts, eh? There is one outside of Lucca, Italy which is completely ignored by everyone.

    I am a Canadian, but I cannot see what people like about poutine. I have eaten grits in the south USA, but I would rather starve than eat anything else on your suggested treats.


  3. It’s amazing to see the aqueduct at Pegões, so spectacular, yet so disregarded by both tourists and locals.


    • I am often surprised by what becomes a tourist attraction and what doesn’t. The aqueduct doesn’t but later this week we visited Cabo de Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe. There is nothing there except for a marker post, an overpriced cafe and a lighthouse station but it attracts coach loads of tourists out of Lisbon every day.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do love a good aqueduct. But in recent years, a food I never sampled was boiled silk worm grubs sold from street stalls in South Korea. The smell was bad enough, but children couldn’t get enough of them.


  5. Not as good as marketing as the one in Segovia even if that Castilian one is better ::)


  6. I love a good aqueduct , the Pontcysyllte outside Llangollen is quite a structure, but for me it was the Pont du Gard outside Nîmes….I loved your “We climbed to the top and walked a short way out along the elevated section until we realised that this was quite dangerous”. Well, in my 20s I crawled across a good section of the Pont du Gard, as I was determined to get across…no railings and these days I see no access! The French are belatedly getting Health and Safety!


  7. I get you on the “why here?” thing with visitors. On the aqueduct scale, we visited a major spectacular one in Turkey in 2020, yet the whole thing is deserted and no one ever goes to see it, but it’s a wonderful, and long (if broken) example. Aa an aside, I’ve never understood why it’s an “e” in aqueduct, why isn’t it “aquaduct”? Lastly, the food….I’d try anything, and there’s very little I (we) don’t like, although that sandwich thing looks horribly heavy. We will always try local specialities, whatever it is and however off putting the content may be..we’ll try it, even if we only ever eat it once. The one thing I just can’t stomach and don’t ever go near because I can’t even understand why people eat it is….wait for it …..ice cream.


  8. I’ll happily pass on all of those


  9. Can’t believe you diss Mortadella, but, OK, tastes vary.

    Of what’s offered, Tripe and Onions far outpace the others (on my ‘stuff to avoid’ list).

    Venturing outside your choices, other stuff on that list is fish eggs, haggis, blood anything (pie, sausage, etc) . . . none of which I’ve tried or intend to try.

    There are lots of ‘delicacies’ from around the world I’ve read about, and that I would like to erase from my mind, but as I’m unlikely to ever cross paths with them, I won’t bother mentioning.


  10. Well, that gave me a few smiles- the comments, I mean. I hate those herrings in a mustard sauce that my Polish family loved and German sausages with chunks of fat in. Gross! Francesinha aren’t too bad if you share one with Kim, Andrew. Love that photo of the aqueduct in Vila do Conde.


  11. The aqueduct is fascinating. And other beautiful places. That sandwich does look a little too much. But it must be a complete meal for some. Thank you for sharing.


  12. Having failed to get through a single francescinha between two of us, I feel your pain! As you say, tasty, but the size of the things is just ridiculous. It may be fine if you’ve been labouring in a vineyard somewhere, but otherwise, it’s just too much food!


  13. The aquadeucts sound incredible! I’ve stayed in the states all of my life, but this place would definitely make my list of places to visit when it’s that time. Thanks for sharing!


  14. Tripe was a favourite of my father’s and I remember him giving me a taste when I was about 10, weird texture and quite tasteless I think. Having lived 6 months in Norway any raw fish is a no no and their brown cheese, which was sweet like that odd Caramac bar.


  15. We have a VERY long aqueduct in NYC that runs up the entire trail from the Bronx following the hudson. they buried the pope long ago but the trail stands


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