Ancestral rural practices in Portugal: Vezeira da ribeira's case (Gerês Mountain, Northwest Of Portugal)

António Bento-GonÇalves, António Vieira, Flora Ferreira-Leite, José Salgado, Américo Castro, Luís da Vinha, Paula Alexandra Malta, Bruno Araújo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A few decades ago, in several villages or parishes of Portugal, especially in the North, there were the so-called Vezeiras, which represented a community system of grazing cattle in which each shepherd takes the herd of the whole village out to pasture "one at a time". However, currently only a few endure. The days for guarding the community herd depend on each farmeŕs herd size. Once the allocated time period is finished, the guarding task is handed over to another shepherd and so on, until all the shepherds from the village fulfill their obligation to guard the herd. According to this ritual, the cattle belonging to the various owners graze together from June to September, after which they return to their villages of origin. The traditional economy of these villages is therefore based on practices of subsistence agriculture linked to widespread livestock production and strong community practices based on animal production in extensive and very strong community practices. This tradition remains alive "much in result of the willingness and commitment of cattle owners who continue to enforce the ancient right of use of grassland in the hills". At the same time, this is evidence that in these places some primary sector activities still remain. Vezeiras (cortelhos, fornos, juiz, chamado, ...), along with the brandas, inverneiras, terraces, traditional irrigation systems, mills..., are the legacies of these communities, some of which are still running. These are authentic testimonies of the solidarity between the people, which not only contribute to the local subsistence but can be true anchors for development strategies anchored in tourism activities. Thus, here we intend to highlight the importance of extensive livestock farming in mountainous areas of the Northwest of Portugal, featuring one of the few Vezeiras that has managed to resist: the Ribeira, belonging to São João da Cova, Ventosa and Louredo localities, in the municipality of Vieira do Minho, with grasslands in Terras de Bouro municipality, located in Peneda-Gerês National Park. In order to achieve our goal, we mapped the itineraries and the cultural heritage of Vezeira da Ribeira using GPS technology. The cartographic information (e.g., Vezeira itineraries, land use, forest areas,...) were subsequently treated and analysed with GIS software, specifically ESRI's ArcGis. This article aims to characterize Vezeira da Ribeira, presenting its potentialities as well as the threats which seriously endanger its survival.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPortugal
Subtitle of host publicationeconomic, political and social issues
EditorsAntónio José Bento Goncalves, Antonio Avelino Bastista Vieira
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781622574742
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEuropean political, economic, and security issues
PublisherNova Science Publishers
NameGlobal political studies
PublisherNova Science Publishers


  • Portugal
  • rural practice
  • Vezeiras
  • grazing cattle
  • livestock production
  • agriculture


Dive into the research topics of 'Ancestral rural practices in Portugal: Vezeira da ribeira's case (Gerês Mountain, Northwest Of Portugal)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this