Vila Pouca de Aguiar (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvilɐ ˈpokɐ ðɨ ɐɣiˈaɾ] ) is a municipality in the district of Vila Real in northern Portugal. Its population in 2011 was 13,187,[1] in an area of 437.07 km2.[2] It has about 3,456 residents.

Vila Pouca de Aguiar
The ruins of the Castle of Pena de Aguiar
The ruins of the Castle of Pena de Aguiar
Flag of Vila Pouca de Aguiar
Coat of arms of Vila Pouca de Aguiar
Coordinates: 41°30′2″N 7°38′32″W / 41.50056°N 7.64222°W / 41.50056; -7.64222
Country Portugal
Intermunic. comm.Alto Tâmega
DistrictVila Real
 • PresidentAlberto Machado (PPD-PSD)
 • Total437.07 km2 (168.75 sq mi)
797 m (2,615 ft)
 • Total13,187
 • Density30/km2 (78/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (WEST)
Postal code
Area code259
PatronDivino Salvador


The lookout and battlements of the Castle of Pena de Aguiar
The Casa do Condado of Ferreira Botelho and Albino Ângelo Ferreira Botelho, today the Municipal Museum

There are various theories on the municipality's origins. Some historians believe it was the successor to the ancient city of Cauca, governed by Emperor Theodosius I;[3] however, it is uncertain why or when its name would have been changed from Cauca to Pouca.[3] Another theory is that "Vila Pouca" referred to a small agrarian community, and that "Aguiar" referred to an ancient administrative region, to disambiguate it from other communities named Vila Pouca.[3] Although the name means "Vila Pouca of Aguiar", "aguiar" is derived from aquila ("where the eagles are").[3]

In the 13th century, the municipality was part of the land of Aguiar.[3] In the 12 and 13th centuries, Aguiar consisted of seven ecclesiastical parishes, including São Salvador de Jugal, which corresponded to the actual parish of Vila Pouca de Aguiar.[3] The Inquirições (inquiries/inventory) of King Afonso II established that the parochia of São Salvador de Jugal was composed of these localities and towns: Condado (three couples); Calvos (one couple); Guilhado (four couples) and Nuzedo (20 couples), in addition to the towns of Fraengo and Outeiro.[3] The document also identifies Jugal as an administrative unit, with elaborated administrative domain over the territory of Aguiar, and where the parochial church was located, but no reference to Jugal as a town.[3]

There is no historical explanation for the name-change from São Salvador de Jugal to Vila Pouca, nor when it occurred, although it was sometime in the 14th century.[3]

In the early 20th century, the area's leading figure was Martiniano José Ferreira Botelho, a doctor, druggist, and politician known for his humanitarian character and his advocacy of the local medicinal waters for treatments.[4] He and his family donated land to the community for the current market square, municipal slaughterhouse and well.



Integrated into the Alto Tâmega subregion, the municipality of Vila Pouca de Aguiar is situated in the north of the district of Vila Real, between the mountains of Serra do Alvão and Serra da Padrela, extending over a territory of approximately 437 km2. It is located within a strategic connection, not just between other Portuguese municipalities in the interior but also, as a transit point to the coastal areas (across the A7 and A24 motorways). Within a long fertile valley, and surrounded by high pasture-lands, it is defensively safe within the Transmontana escarpments. The region is covered in national monuments and historical structures: the Castle of Aguiar da Pena, the millenarian Roman mining complex of Tresminas, the thermals of Pedras Salgadas, several leisure centres (such as the Falperra Dam/Reservoir), the Dolmens of Alvão, churches, graves/funeral sites, medieval bridges, sun-dials and castro dot the landscape of this unassuming region. It is located in a narrow valley 25 kilometers north of the district capital, Vila Real, and is connected to the same by national N2 highway.

In 2006 the A7 toll road to Guimarães was completed and the last stretch of the A24, connecting Vila Pouca with Vila Real was opened in June 2007. This non-toll four-lane highway links Coimbra with the Spanish border in Vila Verde. One of the longest and highest highway bridges in Europe was built just south of Vila Pouca, carrying traffic across the fertile valley.[3]

Administratively, the municipality is divided into 14 civil parishes (freguesias):[5]

  • Alfarela de Jales
  • Alvão
  • Bornes de Aguiar
  • Bragado
  • Capeludos
  • Pensalvos e Parada de Monteiros
  • Sabroso de Aguiar
  • Soutelo de Aguiar
  • Telões
  • Tresminas
  • Valoura
  • Vila Pouca de Aguiar
  • Vreia de Bornes
  • Vreia de Jales

Vila Pouca de Aguiar has for many years experienced the desertification of the Portuguese interior. Population densities have historically identified a strong concentration of people in the municipal seat, or its peripheral parishes.[3] From 1981 to 1991, the parishes of Bragado, Pensalves, Afonsim, Vreia de Jales, Vreia de Bornes, Valoura and Soutelo de Aguiar have registered flawing population growth rates.[3] The parish of Sabroso de Aguiar did not exist in 1981, but by 1991 it registered the highest population concentration in the region. Comparatively, between 1991 and 2001, there were no changes in population densities in many of the parishes.[3] The municipal seat and Sabroso de Aguiar continue to show a growth in population density.[3]


Climate data for Santa Marta da Montanha, altitude: 866 m (2,841 ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average precipitation mm (inches) 250
Source: Portuguese Environment Agency[6]

Twin towns – Sister cities


Vila Pouca de Aguiar is twinned with:



Part of region characterized by fertile soils, and the typical climate of the Terra Fria Transmontana, the municipality of Vila Pouca de Aguiar is essentially subsistence agricultural, cultivating cereal crops, potato, vegetables and supporting some vineyards.[3] The small valleys support cattle which graze in the open pasturelands. The lands of the Alvão valley benefited from the construction of the Alvão Dam/Reservoir, which allowed irrigation of these lands since the mid-20th century.[3]

In addition, the economy supports small service industries, government-based dominated tertiary employment, the granite extraction industry (concentrated in the mines of Jales) and the mineral waters in Pedras Salgadas, a small spa town located about ten kilometers north on the main highway to Chaves.[3]






  • Castle of Pena de Aguiar (Portuguese: Castelo de Pena de Aguiar/Castelo de Aguiar de Pena), Romanesque castle composed of rock, with three distinct spaces, barbican tower and acropolis, surrounded by a line of walls forming a circular enclosure with low plan, in the civil parish of Telões;[9]

Dr. Martiniano Ferreira Botelho

Notable citizens

  • Manuel Gregório de Sousa Pereira de Sampaio (1766-1844) a Portuguese military leader and noble; Miguelist general.
  • Martiniano José Ferreira Botelho (ca.1853 – ca.1939), a doctor, druggist, politician and humanitarian, known for his local service to the community and his treatise on the medicinal use of the waters of the area. His home is a point of reference in the community, known as the Casa do Condado (English: House of the County).
  • Rui Sampaio (born 1987) a Portuguese defensive midfield footballer with about 250 club caps.


  1. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estatística Archived 15 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Áreas das freguesias, concelhos, distritos e país
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Câmara Municipal, ed. (2011). "Caracterização" (in Portuguese). Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Vila Pouca de Aguiar. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  4. ^ Dicionário dos mais ilustres Transmontanos e Alto Durienses, coordenado por Barroso da Fonte, III volume, 656 páginas, Editora Cidade Berço.
  5. ^ Diário da República. "Law nr. 11-A/2013, page 552 136" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Monthly Precipitation Santa Marta da Montanha". APA. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  7. ^ Câmara Municipal, ed. (2011). "Geminações" (in Portuguese). Vila Pouca de Aguiar, Portugal: Câmara Municipal de Vila Pouca de Aguiar. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  8. ^ Sereno, Isabel; Amaral, Paulo (1994). SIPA (ed.). "Anta da Serra do Alvão" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  9. ^ Noé, Paula (2003). SIPA (ed.). "Castelo de Pena de Aguiar/Castelo de Aguiar de Pena" (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico. Retrieved 16 January 2012.