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Vidago is a small town located twelve kilometers south of Chaves in the district of Vila Real, Portugal. It is famous for its mineral waters and has a large hotel called the Vidago Palace Hotel, once a favorite of the last Portuguese kings. The setting is pleasant among large trees and many families seek out its shady gardens for picnics.

The Spa

If the visitor has spent any length of time in the north of Portugal he or she cannot have failed to notice the bottled mineral water that bears the name of Salus or Campilho. Vidago at one time was one of the most visited of all the country’s spas. The water is apparently good for the treatment of digestive complaints, containing as it does sodium bicarbonate and, according to its publicity leaflets, radioactive elements. Unfortunately the spa is no more.

The spa town saw its period of splendor from 1875 to 1877 when King Luis I made consecutive visits . The fame of the curative powers of the waters spread so far that from 1876 to 1889 they were awarded prizes in Madrid, Paris, Viena, and Rio de Janeiro. An impediment to the development of the town was the difficulty of transport. Guests came by stage coach from Porto, using roads that were often no more than a path. Finally in 1907 the railroad from Régua to Vila Real was extended up to Pedras Salgadas, twenty kilometers to the south. Three years later the first train arrived at the Vidago station. After that the spa took on renewed popularity. When the Palace Hotel was built it was the most luxurious of the Iberian Peninsula. There were concerts, courts of lawn tennis and of croquet, and on the island of the lake there was a spacious skating rink; there were even six elegant boats on the lake.

Unfortunately, today the spa is little more than a memory. Many of the old hotels in the town have fallen into ruin and the area around the spa itself, although still attractive with its towering trees, is in need of a total overhauling. There are plans to open a casino, which might give the town a fresh breath of hope.

When you arrive in the center of the small town coming from the north, a turn off the main highway leads to a wide leafy oak lined avenue on either side of which are the hotels and health resorts that make up Vidago. The spa was opened in 1870, and the hotels that sit beneath the trees are mostly early twentieth century. As mentioned above several are nothing but ruins today. The largest and most impressive of those still operating is the huge Vidago Palace Hotel with its tremendously grand fenestrated façade. Built in 1910 it houses perhaps the finest grand horseshoe staircase in the North of Portugal and an elegant dining room. It at one time also boasted a swimming pool open to the public and, surprisingly, a state-of-the-art disco. The swimming pool, you might be pleased to know is located now behind the hotel in very pleasant surroundings.

Structure remaining from the old spa

In the grounds of the Palace Hotel was the spa itself, housed in a colorful art-nouveau pavilion. Inside in the marble well sunk 3 meters into the ground the famous mineral water used to be dispensed to the public. The stained glass of the windows and the marble were decorated in an extraordinary mixture of Classical and Moorish styles. The tiles depicted personifications of figures such as glory and fame. All of this has now been modified and incorporated into a new structure which will soon be open to the public, but not for use as a spa but as a conference room.

There is a nine-hole golf course nearby, the only one in the region of Tras-os-Montes. More information can be found at Portugal Golf Courses or golf courses

(The information above was taken from, written by the same author.)