The Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley extends along the last 17 km of the Côa River before it runs into the Douro River. You can see more than a thousand examples of rock art, predominantly Palaeolithic engravings, followed by motifs dating from the Iron, Historic and later Pre-Historic Ages. Because of their uniqueness, quality and extent, these Palaeolithic rock art sites in the Archaeological Park of the Côa Valley were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
A visit to the engravings is preceded by a tour of the park by 4×4 and is guided by an expert from the Côa Park Foundation. We suggest here two rock art sites open to the public: Penascosa and Ribeira de Piscos.
Mapa Parque do Côa
PENASCOSA ROCK ART SITE
The Penascosa site is located on the banks of the Côa River. The site is comprised of 36 engraved rocks, 26 of which have Palaeolithic motifs: deer, goats, oxen and horses, all dating from the oldest Palaeolithic period represented in the Côa Valley. We consider this the most suitable site for a first visit to Côa, because the majority of the engravings are etched very deeply, making them the easiest to see. Visits to this site are best during the afternoon or evening.
RIBEIRA DE PISCOS ROCK ART SITE
The majority of engravings here date from the end of the Palaeolithic period, and the 39 historic rocks are scattered around the junction of the Ribeira de Piscos, a small creek, with the Côa River. Here we find some of the most beautiful designs in the entire valley, the majority of which are finely etched. The site also stands out for having the greatest number of human figures discovered till now. Visits to this site are best arranged during the morning.
At night, shining a strong light from above the engravings creates effects of light and shade, which make the engraved drawing emerge from the face of the stones. The engravings become much easier to see and the deep night transports us thousands of years into the past. Absolutely unforgettable. A nocturnal visit is arranged at the Penascosa rock art site, preceded by a journey by 4×4, and guided throughout by an expert from the Côa Park Foundation.
The real collection of the Côa Museum is engraved on the rocks of the Côa Valley. The Museum provides a context in time and place to help us understand the rock art of the Côa. But the Museum is not only a centre for interpretation of art; it is itself a work of art. The famous building, a project of the Portuguese architects Pedro Pimentel and Camilo Rebelo, surprises us by its strong presence, which at the same time is so well integrated to the surrounding landscape.
Walking through the Côa Archaeological Park is one way to better understand the area occupied 25,000 years ago by our ancestors, discovering other engraving sites, for instance Fariseu or Faia. Fariseu is an archaeological site crucial to understanding the timeline of Côa Art. Faia is an adventure on foot along the Côa River which here runs through a canyon of massive blocks of granite.