Road Trip

Queiriga: a secret cave with a blue lake in Portugal

Not in the municipality of Vila Nova de Paiva, you can find the Queiriga mines, an authentic treasure still little known by the visitors. However, the truth is that more and more adventurers and lovers of Geocaching are moving to the local, attracted by the unique particularities of the grotto, and also making other people aware of its beauty.

With 575 inhabitants, the most French village in Portugal, known for quadrupling the number of inhabitants, will not see two emigrants, and now it is also known for another reason, which already circulates on national and international travel sites: the Queiriga mines.

The natural beauty of the Queiriga caves is dazzling: there are open spaces through which some sunlight enters, causing an effect of reflection on the waters that further accentuates its blue tone. Inside, the galleries are separated by columns sculpted by mineiros during the search for tungsten. The entire structure is combined with skylights supported by natural columns where it is possible to pass from grotto to grotto through narrow portals.

Queiriga Mines (Paulo Chaves)

There are several lakes, but most of them are also more beautiful, especially during lunch hour, when natural light enters the grotto and reflects on the water, making its color more intense and bright. A truly magical atmosphere.

The access is not difficult but it can be a little dangerous if you do not take due care. There are places where it is easy to correct and have a more spectacular accident. Além disso, in the absence of support structures, complicates access to other parts of the Queiriga caves. There is no kind of vigilance and you must pay special attention to where you pass, always be careful not to venture into areas where you can slip or where rockslides can occur.

The parish of Queiriga comprises the farms of Queiriga, Lousadela, Minas de Lagares and Quinta das Valas. It is 6 kilometers from the council headquarters, located between the left bank of Paiva and the right bank of Vouga, an area of ​​35 kmtwo. Em inícios do séc. XX, more specifically in its first metade, activity in Minas Gerais was intense non-local, reaching its peak in the 1940s, when about 500 essential workers were employed, some relief, because it was difficult to find specialized labor .

Queiriga Mines
Queiriga Mines (Luís Alves)

Also, it is not surprising that among these operators there were several dozen foreign technicians, mainly British. Daqui was mainly extracted Cassiterite (tin oxide) and tungsten.

Since the heyday of Minas Gerais, Queiriga has not undergone major alterations, and there are still houses on the northern limit of the population that were originally British and which, in the meantime, have been recovered for permanent habitation in two places.

The original characteristics of these houses are still maintained in many examples, highlighting the architecture, the layout, the accessible box between or only the other, the existence of a single floor, two large waters in the coverage and generous porches on the main façade.

The high-altitude mining community was small, rather homogeneous in terms of nationalities, since, for the Portuguese and British, we also hired Belgians and French, specialized in mining engineering. The community spirit is in its heyday in the community center, of great relevance at the time, in which people found free time to live together and share experiences.

Queiriga Mines
Queiriga Mines (Paulo Chaves)

The mines are currently deactivated, but are to be studied for tourist exploration purposes by the Municipal Chamber of Vila Nova de Paiva and by a concessionary company.

Its interest resides not only in its history, but also not in its invulgar format, since, not being open to the public, they are also not galleries themselves, being considered demountable from the rock. This clearing was done by creating large spaces, supported by natural columns. In search of the filão I also found that it had a very pronounced slope.

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