Try to visit Barcelos on Thursday, when the market (7am-6pm) takes over the Campo da República, almost 400 sq. m (4,306 sq. ft.), with a fountain at the center. You'll see local handicrafts -- rugs, dyed pillows stuffed with chicken feathers, chandeliers, crochet work, pottery, and hand-painted earthenware cockerels, Portugal's most characteristic souvenirs.
Opening onto the tree-studded main square are some of the finest buildings in Barcelos. The 18th-century Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Terco resembles a palace more than a church, with a central-niche facade topped by finials and a cross. The tile work around the baroque altar depicts scenes of monks at labor and a moving rendition of the Last Supper. Also fronting the campo is the Hospital da Misericórdia, a long, formal 17th-century building behind a spiked fence.
Of more interest is the small, octagonal Igreja do Bom Jesús da Cruz, with a tile-faced cupola. An upper balustrade, punctuated by large stone finials and a latticed round window about the square portal, contrasts with the austerity of the walls. The interior is more sumptuous, with crystal, marble, and gilt. There are no set hours for visits, though generally one can enter daily from 9am to noon and 3 to 6pm. Don't count on always finding someone to admit you, however.
Overlooking the swirling Cávado River are the ruins of the 1786 Palace of the Braganças. The original palace site, as well as the town of Barcelos itself, was bestowed on Nuno Álvares by João I as a gift in gratitude for his bravery in the 1385 battle at Aljubarrota. Check out the representation of the palace on the facade, to see how it must have looked back then.
You can wander through the ruins, which have been turned into an archaeological museum called the Museu Arqueológico (tel. 25/382-47-41), filled with sarcophagi, heralded shields, and an 18th-century tile fountain. It's open daily 9am to noon and 2 to 6pm and admission is free. The Museu de Olaria (tel. 25/382-47-41; www.museuolaria.org), underneath the palace, has exhibits on pottery (look for the blood-red ceramic oxen with lyre-shape horns). Enter on Rua Cónego Joaquim Gaiolas. It is open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 12:30pm and 2 to 5:30pm. Admission is 2.20€ for adults, 1.10€ for students and children.
The adjoining Gothic Igreja Matriz (parish church) contains a baroque altar decorated with cherubs, grapes, gold leaf, and birds and an interior whose sides are faced with multicolored tiles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.