AROUCA GEOPARK (Portugal)
The Arouca Geopark territory is located in northern Portugal and coincides with the area of the Arouca Municipality. It is renowned for its exceptional geological heritage of international significance, with 41 geosites. The Giant Trilobites of Canelas and the Castanheira's "stones that give birth" are the most emblematic.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
The Arouca Geopark is a mountainous area carved by narrow valleys. Rocks that outcrop in this region tell stories of the ancient seas that bordered the supercontinent Gondwana 520 to 420 million year (Ma) ago and chronicle the formation of the next supercontinent called Pangea that formed 250 Ma ago. One of the most distinctive characters of the geopark's geodiversity is due to the high fossil content of the Ordovician slates (460-470 Ma ago), with giant trilobites up to 90 cm in size, together with a specific granitic body that contains a remarkable abundance of nodules ranging from 1−12 cm in diameter. A popular legend attributes magical properties to these nodules in terms of female fertility, since these dark mineral lumps pop out spontaneously from a creamy-coloured matrix due to differential dilatation during hot weather.
This area also has a national archeological, historical, cultural and mining relevant legacy, such as Neolithic graves, Roman and Medieval ruins, the Arouca Monastery and the abandoned tungsten mines of Regoufe and Rio de Frades.
During the year the Arouca Geopark Association promotes and carries out dozens of activities and initiatives to showcase the dynamics of this territory. Among them must be emphasized the educational programs focused on the different realities of the territory and which every year attract thousands of students and teachers for new challenges of learning and discovery activities. This area is also famous for Geotourism activities, especially for adventure sports such as rafting, canoeing, canyoning, rock climbing and the network of walking trails. It allows the visitors to discover the majority of the geosites, enjoy breathtaking landscapes, meet people and experience local traditions. They can also taste the famous local cuisine, based in the indigenous cattle breed and the convent pastries, with traditions dating back to the foundation of the Monastery of Arouca in the 10th century.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States