Like Valença do Minho to the west, Monção (mohng-sowng) was once an important fortification along the border with Spain. It has a modest but attractive historic centre – which includes the remains of its 14th-century fortifications still watching over the river – that sees far fewer visitors than Valença’s. The town’s big claim to fame is its fine vinho verde (wine), with signs touting Monção as the cradle of the refreshing Alvarinho wine (Spain’s Galicia makes similar claims).
It is said that during a siege by Castilian soldiers in 1368, a local townswoman named Deu-la-Deu Martins managed to scrabble together enough flour from starving citizens to make a few loaves of bread, and in a brazen show of plenty tossed them to the enemy with the message, ‘if you need any more, just let us know’. As the story goes, the disheartened Spaniards immediately withdrew to Spain.