(Photo taken by J.B.Cesar and kindly conceded to the author of this article)
Chaves, Portugal, is the second most populous city in the district of Vila Real, after the district capital of the same name. It is located 12 km. south of the Spanish border, just 22 km south of Verín. The district capital, Vila Real, is 60 km south on National Highway 02.
The population of the concelho of Chaves was 40,000 in the 2001 census, with the urban area having approximately 15,000 people. The town has always had great historical importance, being the site of an important Roman garrison and later being in the forefront of resistance during the Napoleonic invasions of the early nineteenth century. In Portuguese military history Chaves is especially famous for two battles: the siege of Chaves by French forces in 1807 and the Royalist attack on Chaves in 1912.
Chaves is a town of fortifications. There is the keep of a medieval castle and ruins of two forts, Forte São Francisco and Forte São Neutel, both built in the 17th century. The original Roman bridge in Chaves crossing the Tamega still stands with its stone arches and is the most important tourist site of the town. The hot springs of Chaves have been famous since Roman times and today many people come to the town to take the water cure.
Agriculture and services are still the main sources of income. The surrounding area of the Tâmega River valley, known as the veiga, is quite fertile. Potatoes, corn, and garden vegetables are grown on the small plots. There are several granite extraction and finishing industries as well as mineral water plants in nearby Vidago.
Many of the local people have emigrated to northern Europe, especially France. In August these emigrants return to visit their villages and the population of Chaves doubles. It is a time of weddings and village festivals.