The conference will be held at:
Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Quinta de Prados
5000-801 Vila Real, Portugal
Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Situated in the north-eastern city of Vila Real, The University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) became a fully-fledged Public University in 1986, although its history also includes a valuable heritage received from its predecessor, the Vila Real Polytechnic Institute, created in 1973. This Institute took on a relevant role in the development of the region, and in September 1979, it was converted into the Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro Higher Education Institute. It was due to the intense activity in the fields of teaching and scientific and technological research that, less than ten years later, the Government granted its status as a qualified University. Today UTAD is widely recognized as a significant reference in the Portuguese university system.
As specified in its Statutes, UTAD’s core objectives are high quality Teaching, Research and Community Outreach, striving to be a Centre of Excellence for lifelong learning and for the creation, transmission and dissemination of culture, science and technology.
By choosing teaching and research fields that meet the national needs and are not yet exhausted on the labour market, UTAD has earned its rightful place among the new generation of Portuguese universities.
UTAD has an ability to adapt to new situations, balancing the resources available with modern teaching methods, and being able to propose new ways of learning and distributing scientific knowledge. This flexibility is irrefutable proof of the University’s vitality, which justifies its assertion within the Portuguese University System.
The reason to visit Vila Real, the capital of the province of Trás-os-Montes and birthplace of Diogo Cão (the explorer who discovered the Congo River in 1482), is for the Baroque Mateus Palace, 4km (2.5 miles) east of the town. Described by Sacheverell Sitwell as “the most fantastic country house in Portugal”, it has been made famous worldwide for being featured on the label of Mateus Rosé wine and it is well worth a visit for a glimpse into the lives of the Portuguese aristocracy.
Built in 1745, it is considered a perfect example of baroque architecture, with an impressive façade made up of beautiful pinnacles on the roof and an ornate balustraded stairway, all reflecting on a pond in front of it.
Behind it is a delightful garden, Mateus Palace Gardens among the most beautiful in Europe, with box hedges, statues, and a spectacular cedar tunnel about 35m (115ft) long.
There are guided tours of the palace’s interior, beginning at the entrance hall, with its carved chestnut ceiling and 18th-century furniture, leading into the Four Seasons Room which takes its name from its large 18th century paintings, and the Blue Room that features Chinese porcelain. Mateus Palace entrance The neighboring Dining Room contains stunning Portuguese china and silver, and the Four Corners Room has Indo-Portuguese furniture.
The town itself has a few buildings of interest, including an Italian Renaissance building on the town’s main street, Avenida Carvalho Araujo, that is where Diogo Cão was born.
The Douro Valley could as easily be called the enchanted valley, such is the beauty and magic that its landscapes offer.
Departing from Porto, where the river flows into the sea and where the Douro wines (table wines and Port wine), produced on its hillsides, also end up, there are various ways to get to know this cultural landscape, listed as a World Heritage Site: by road, by train, on a cruise boat and even by helicopter. None will leave you indifferent.
Following a route between the viewpoints that offer the best vistas, you need to cross the river from north to south and back again. But along the way you can admire breathtaking landscapes over the river and visit vineyards, towns and villages until you reach Miranda do Douro, the point at which the river enters Portugal.
The Douro Wine Region Valley, up to Barca de Alva, is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. First, the river carved the deep valleys out of the land and then Man transformed the Schist Mountains into soil and walls and planted the vines, green in summer, flame-coloured in autumn. With knowledge handed down from generation to generation, he inclined the terraces to expose the vines to the rays of the sun which give the grapes the warmth that the wine craves. It was from the fruits of the land and Man’s labour that this unique wine and landscape were made.