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Arcos de Valdevez

Arcos de Valdevez is a municipality along the northern frontier of Portugal and Galicia (Spain). The population in 2011 was 22,847, in an area of 447.60 km². It is the largest municipality in area of the district of Viana do Castelo.HistoryThe first settlements in the area of Arcos de Valdevez occurred between the 5th and 3rd millennium BC, verified by archaeological investigations from many of the funerary mounds within the municipality, such as Núcleo Megalítico do Mezio. This also includes many rock carvings and paintings that were found in the Gião archaeological station. This period of proto-history, and Roman occupation, not just for its influence on toponymy, was important for many of the defensive and habitational structures that dot the landscape of the municipality. These include many of the castros that exist throughout the area, and in particular, in the parishes of Ázere, Álvora and Cendufe.During the Middle Age many of these proto-cultural sites were abandoned for medieval parishes or monasteries located along plains or atop strategic hills, such as the Monastery of Ermelo (Cistercians) or Santa Maria de Miranda (Benedictine). These areas facilitated settlement, which was tied to herding and seasonal cultivation, while the mountains provided many sources of game. The facility of settlement greatly enhanced its importance, since its proximity to Spanish territory favoured strategic expansion into the south: the number of medieval bridges in the area, such as in Vilela and Cabreiro improved further expansion.
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