“Raia seca” landscapes
The Limia is a unique river. It has excavated a natural corridor along
which history has left its human traces. The river gathers up a mass of
water which leaps down in waterfalls and cascades, rests in successive
dams, crosses a border and finally gives up its waters to the Atlantic. In
this way the largest Natural Park in our region is united with the most
important Park in Portugal, the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Together
they form one single protected cross-border space which is unique in
This is the “raia seca”, for the border layout is not located around the
rivers but high up in the mountains: O Laboreiro, Queguas and Quinxo
in the north; Santa Eufemia, O Xurés and O Pisco, in the south. The
highest peaks are 1,500 metres high and combine the smooth forms of
the old Galician mountains with the most rugged peaks. Needles and
bolos (granite stones), which time has balanced in complicated
equilibrium, are one of the distinguishing marks of the area.
Here we will find megalithic monuments, legends of gold and evidence
of the passing of the Roman soldiers along the XVIII or Vía Nova road.
Still standing are the milestones that were left on the road that joined
the Roman capitals of Braga and Astorga through the only natural way
through these mountains, the mythical Portela do Home, border access
point to Portuguese territory.
The traditional constructions like mills, walled beehives (alvarizas),
shepherds’ cabins (chivanas), raised granaries (hórreos), ovens, roads and
walls reveal the most creative soul of its inhabitants. A heritage from the
traditions still kept alive in the dozen villages which until the present day
have kept agriculture and fishing alive in the Park. Villages like those of O
Couto Mixto, the territory which, until 1868, had a statute of privilege
independent of Spain and Portugal.