The municipalities of Melgaço, Monção, Arcos de Valdevez, Ponte da Barca, Vila Verde and Braga signed, on December 14, 2020, the cooperation protocol for the implementation and dissemination of the "Caminho Minhoto Ribeiro", one of the oldest that connects the North of Portugal to Santiago de Compostela.
This Path connects with the national territory in the place of Cevide, in the Parish of Cristóval, (Melgaço). The scientific knowledge built over the last two decades, more precisely 23 years, according to the researcher and coordinator of the Caminho Minhoto Ribeiro working group, Cástor Pérez Casal, led Galician entities to challenge Portuguese municipalities to develop efforts aimed at implementing the route which continues on national soil to Braga.
Melgaço responded to the working group's appeal and set the tone for conversations with the remaining municipalities to take shape. The Minho municipalities covered by the route expressed an interest in developing the historical-scientific research, necessary for the formalization of a national candidacy for the proper certification.
With the signing of this protocol, the six municipalities undertake to develop study work on a Route of Intermunicipal Historical and Cultural interest, called “Caminho Minhoto Ribeiro”, for future public enjoyment.
“Autarchy management is increasingly a team effort, with all territories, and does not sympathize with borders. Today, it is the Caminho Minhoto Ribeiro that unites us on this side and unites us with our Galician brothers. The Ministry of Culture determined, through Decree-Law nº 51/2019, that the itineraries of the Caminhos de Santiago were managed by public entities and that these act for a better knowledge of the routes and the heritage assets that integrate them. The Camino de Santiago represents a historical expression of European culture, it is a pillar of our collective identity, an important element of rapprochement between nations and their peoples. It is imperative that we rediscover historically established paths, as is the case of the Minhoto Ribeiro Path”, noted the mayor of Melgaço, in the route presentation session.
The mayor of Melgaço congratulated the Minho counterparts for, "effectively and quickly", having integrated the commitment to structure the "consensualization of the project" which aims to "implement a model of signalling, maintenance and promotion of the Path". Manoel Batista also made reference to "gratitude" to Mário Monteiro, "a man from the frontier, from Cevide", for having promoted the first contacts between the research team and the municipalities of Minho.
The "honorable presence" of the Nº1 border marker, in Cevide, was reinforced in this session with the delivery of bottles of Alvarinho wine to the speakers and political representatives present, produced by Soalheiro, who joined the brand "Here Comes Portugal - The Ponto Mais a Norte”, with a label specially dedicated to this tribute to the territory.
María Nava Castro Domínguez, Director of Tourism for the Junta de Galicia
, praised the “cross-border collaboration” and the “many and very important steps taken to make this route known”.
“I am sure that the work on the Portuguese side will be equally fruitful and we will quickly begin to see results that will allow us for this roadmap to acquire greater name and relevance in the territories it passes through”, she envisioned.
With the year Jacobeu 2021, the Director of Tourism in Galicia predicts that this cultural route, in addition to the ten cultural itineraries already part of the Caminhos de Santiago, will be quickly recognized.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques
, highlighted the importance of these routes that extend “beyond the river” and which annually captivate “thousands of pilgrims, whether for religious, spiritual or cultural reasons”. At the turning point of the “difficult year” that was 2020, the initiative “marks our hope for the future, for the best year we will live in 2021”.
Rita Marques also notes the "estimate" that "in 2019 around 350,000 pilgrims walked these paths and we hope that many of them have walked the paths of the North side of Portugal", pointing out that it is time to associate regional tourism entities for the promotion of nature, thermalism and wine.
In 2021, in the “important year” of affirming the path and even the inauguration of some trails in the municipality of Melgaço, currently under construction, the Secretary of State for Tourism left the promise to return to the region to “walk the path”. “I hope we can be together and do a little bit of this Path”, underlined Rita Marques.