Côa Museum – Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal - Atlas Obscura

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Côa Museum

An architectural gem nestled into a promontory overlooking a prehistoric landscape. 


This building resembles a large outcrop emerging from the soil. It houses a trove of information about the prehistoric world that existed in the Côa River valley. 

During the early 1990s, a discovery was made along the banks of the Côa River. Researchers found several locations where flat rock faces above the river contained prehistoric rock art. Unfortunately at the time of this find, plans were underway to build a dam at the mouth of the river to flood the valley. This was designed to store water for release into the Douro River during dry summer months.

After some controversy, the dam project was shut down. The rock art sites in the Côa Valley were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. At the same time, a park and museum were also in the works.

Today, that marvelous museum is perched on a small promontory above the mouth of the Côa River. Exhibits highlight the region’s rich history. 

Know Before You Go

Visits to the rock art sites must be made through the museum, or possibly through licensed guides. For licensed pictures inside the museum, please see the museum website.

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