Minho (river)

The Minho (/ˈmiːn.juː/ MEEN-yoo, Portuguese: [ˈmiɲu]) or Miño (/ˈmiːnjoʊ/ MEEN-yoh, Spanish: [ˈmiɲo], Galician: [ˈmiɲʊ]; Proto-Celtic: *Miniu) is the longest river in Galicia, sharing the border with Portugal, with a length of 340 kilometres (210 mi). By discharge, it is the fourth river of the Iberian peninsula, after the Douro, Ebro and Tagus.

The Minho waters vineyards and farmland, is used to produce hydroelectric power, and also delineates a section of the SpanishPortuguese border. In ancient English maps, it appears as Minno.

The source of the Minho lies north of Lugo in Galicia, in a place called Pedregal de Irimia. After about 73 kilometres (45 mi), the river passes just south of the walls of this old Roman city, discharging in average 42 m3/s, and flows south through canyons until the valley widens north of Ourense. The river has been harnessed in reservoirs from Portomarín to Frieira. Along its length, it has the following reservoirs: Belesar with 654 cubic hectometres (530,000 acre⋅ft), Peares with 182 cubic hectometres (148,000 acre⋅ft), Velle with 17 cubic hectometres (14,000 acre⋅ft), Castrelo with 60 cubic hectometres (49,000 acre⋅ft) and Frieira with 44 cubic hectometres (36,000 acre⋅ft).

About 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Ourense at Os Peares, the Minho, with a discharge of 102 m3/s, receives the waters of its main tributary, the Sil, with 184 m3/s. Passing Ourense, there is one major dam at Frieira near the town of Ribadavia, which is famous for its Ribeiro wine (called after the name of the region). There the Minho averages 316 m3/s of discharge. Later on, the river flows in a southwest direction until reaching the Portuguese border near Melgaço.

After 260 kilometres (160 mi) through Galicia, the Minho sets the border to Portugal for about other 80 kilometres (50 mi), mainly towards the west. The valley is a lush, green agricultural area where the land is used to produce corn, potatoes, cabbage, even kiwi fruit, or just grass, depending on the time of year, and everywhere edging the fields, rivers and gardens, wherever there is space, the vines which produce the light, slightly sparkling “Vinho Verde” and the Ribeiro wine, both peculiar to this area. The very best of these wines, Alvarinho in Portuguese or Albariño in Spanish and Galician, is produced in the area around Monção, Arbo and Melgaço.

Passing the medieval towns of Melgaço and Monção, the Minho divides the Spanish Tui and Portuguese Valença do Minho, towns that guarded an important bridge for road and rail. Both towns preserve fortifications and are national monuments. The Minho reaches the Atlantic between the Galician A Guarda and the Portuguese Caminha, with an average discharge of 420 m3/s.

Tui Miño 060415 1
The river Minho, and the town of Tui, as seen from Valença
Minho River map
Map showing the location of the Minho
Nickname(s)O Pai Miño (Galician for "The Father Minho")
Native nameMiño  (SpanishGalician)
Minho  (Portuguese)
CountrySpain, Portugal
CityLugo, Ourense
Physical characteristics
SourcePedregal de Irimia
 ⁃ locationSerra de Meira, Lugo, Galicia, Spain
 ⁃ coordinates43°12′41″N 7°16′52″W / 43.21139°N 7.28111°W
 ⁃ elevation695 m (2,280 ft)
Source confluencePeares
 ⁃ locationOurense, Galicia, Spain
 ⁃ coordinates42°27′14″N 7°43′48″W / 42.45389°N 7.73000°W
MouthMiño Estuary
 ⁃ location
Atlantic Ocean, Spain
 ⁃ coordinates
41°52′0″N 8°52′12″W / 41.86667°N 8.87000°WCoordinates: 41°52′0″N 8°52′12″W / 41.86667°N 8.87000°W
 ⁃ elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length350 km (220 mi)
 ⁃ average420 m3/s (15,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
ReservoirsBelesar, Peares, Velle, Castrelo and Frieira


Pedregal de Irimia

The river begins in the Pedregal de Irimia of the Sierra de Meira, about 695 metres (2,280 ft) above sea level, in the municipality of Meira, northeast of the province of Lugo, where it flows underground to surface in the lagoon Fonmiña (in the municipality of A Pastoriza). This lagoon is located in the same province, is historically considered as its birthplace. The Minho flows through the Galician massif and Cantabrian Mountain range and the mountains of Leon, two of the rainiest areas of the Iberian Peninsula, being one of the main rivers of the Atlantic slope.

All its upper course has been declared a Biosphere Reserve. The Minho River runs its first 64 kilometres (40 mi) across the plateau of Lugo (Terrachá), a peneplain whose elevation ranges from 450 to 650 metres (1,480 to 2,130 ft) above the sea level.

Its main tributaries are the Sil, Neira, Avia, Barbantiño, Búbal, Arnoya rivers.

Foz do Minho - Vista de Vila Nova de Cerveira
The mouth of the Minho


According to E. Bascuas, "Miño", registered as Minius and Mineus, is a form belonging to the old European hydronymy, and derived from the Indoeuropean root *mei- 'walk, go'.[1]

Legends, traditions and superstitions

The story tells the oral tradition of Galician mythological characters that were living in the basin of the Rio Minho, such as feiticeiras (witches) who lived in the same river, the Xarcos who dwelt in wells located throughout the watershed and fish-men who were amphibious with the possibility of living both on land and in water.[2]



  • Pontevedra
    • Río Tamuxe (also called Carballas, Carballo or Carvallo)
    • Río Pego
    • Río Cereixo da Brinha
    • Río Furnia (also called Forcadela)
    • Río Louro
    • Río Caselas
    • Río Tea
    • Río Uma
    • Río Deva (there is another Deva River on the left bank)
    • Río Ribadil
    • Río Cea
  • Ourense
  • Lugo
    • Río Asma
    • Río Narón
    • Río Ferreira
    • Río Mera
    • Río Narla
    • Río Ladra
    • Río Támoga
    • Río Anllo


  • Portugal
    • Rio Mouro
    • Rio Gadanha
    • Rio Coura
  • Ourense
    • Río Deva
    • Río Arnoia
    • Río Barbaña
    • Río Lonia
    • Sil River
  • Lugo
    • Río Sardiñeira
    • Río Loio
    • Río Neira
    • Río Chamoso
    • Río Robra (also called río Santa Marta)
    • Río Lea
    • Río Azúmar

See also


  • Río Barja, Francisco Javier; Rodríguez Lestegás, Francisco (1992). Os rios galegos: morfoloxia e rexime. Santiago de Compostela: Consello da cultura galega. ISBN 84-87172-76-8.
  1. ^ Cf. p. 534, "La Hidronimia de Galicia: tres estratos ..". http://www.mondonedoferrol.org/estudios-mindonienses/MINDONIENSES%2024%20[protegido].pdf
  2. ^ Revista Natura. 25. April 1985. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

A Pastoriza

A Pastoriza is a municipality in the Spanish province of Lugo. It has a population of 3,911 (Spanish 2003 Census) and an area of 175 km². It belongs to the Terra Chá region. In this county the most important river in Galicia begins and one of the most plentiful in Spain, the Minho River.

Alto Minho

The Comunidade Intermunicipal do Alto Minho (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈaɫtu ˈmiɲu]) is an administrative division in northern Portugal. It is situated between the Minho River and Lima River. It was created in October 2008. Since January 2015, Alto Minho is also a NUTS3 subregion of Norte Region, that covers the same area as the intermunicipal community. The main town of the intermunicipal community is Viana do Castelo. The intermunicipal community is coterminous with the former Viana do Castelo District. The population in 2011 was 244,836, in an area of 2,218.84 km².It borders to the north the Galicia autonomous region in Spain and to the south with the Cávado intermunicipal community. It is an area with a strong gastronomic identity and produces a specific type of wine called Vinho Verde (young wine).

Autopista AP-9

The AP-9 or Autoestrada do Atlántico is a toll motorway in Galicia, Spain. It starts in A Coruña and runs south past the cities of Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra and Vigo, before ending at the town of Tui, a few kilometres north of the Portuguese border at the Minho River.

The AP-9 is 178 km (111 miles) in length. The first 16 km (10 miles), from A Coruña to the A-6 autovía near the towns of Guísamo and Betanzos, form part of European route E70, while the remainder forms part of European route E01. Between A Coruña and Vigo, the motorway runs parallel to the N-550 road, and between Vigo and Tui it runs parallel to the A-55 autovía .

The AP-9 has two spurs: the 36 km (22.5 mile) long AP-9F from Guísamo to Ferrol, which runs parallel to the N-651 road and also forms part of European route E01; and the 4 km (2.5 mile) long AP-9V, which runs into the centre of Vigo.

Avia (river)

The Avia River is a tributary of the Miño River with a length of 36.70 kilometres (22.80 mi). It begins in the serra of the Suído at a height of 880 metres (2,890 ft) in the place called Fonte Avia (municipality of Avión). It follows an SO-NL direction after arriving to the artificial lake of Albarellos, between the municipalities of Leiro, Boborás and Avión. After the artificial lake it continues until Boborás, turning there in SL direction. It flows in Ribadavia. Its tributaries include the Maquiáns River, Viñao River, and Arenteiro River, and it runs past the communities of Boborás, Leiro, and Ribadavia.

Battle of Vilanova

The Battle of Vilanova took place on 17 September 1658 during the Portuguese Restoration War near the Fort of São Luis de Gonzaga, located south of Tui in the southern bank of the Minho River. A Spanish army commanded by the Governor of Galicia, Rodrigo Pimentel, Marquis of Viana, entered Portuguese territory and confronted a Portuguese army led by João Rodrigues de Vasconcelos e Sousa, 2nd Count of Castelo Melhor. The Spanish were victorious and proceeded over the following months to capture Monção, Salvaterra de Miño and other Portuguese strongholds.


Chantada, is a municipality in the province of Lugo, Galicia, Spain.Chantada is situated on the left bank of the Río Asma, a small right-hand tributary of the Minho river, and on the main road from Ourense, 29 km S. by W., to Lugo, 45 km N. by E. Chantada is the chief town of the fertile region between the Minho and the heights of O Faro, which mark the western border of the province. Despite the lack of railway communication, it has a thriving trade in grain, flax, hemp, and dairy produce.


Frankfield is a town in the parish of Clarendon in central Jamaica. It is located near the top of Jamaica's central ridge of mountains overlooking the south coast. The Rio Minho river runs through the town in a shallow gorge.

Jogo do pau

Jogo do pau, 'lit. game of the stick' (IPA: [ˈʒoɣu du ˈpaw]) is a Galician and Portuguese martial art which developed in the regions along the Minho River: Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Pontevedra and Ourense, focusing on the use of a staff of fixed measures and characteristics. The origins of this martial art are disputed, but its purpose was primarily self-defence. It was also used to settle arguments and matters of honour between individuals, families, and even villages. While popular in the northern mountains, it was practically unknown elsewhere, and those who did practice it were taught by masters from the North of Portugal and Galicia.

May Pen

May Pen is the capital and largest town in the parish of Clarendon in Middlesex County, Jamaica. It is located on the Rio Minho river (Jamaica's longest), and is a major market centre for the Parish. The population was 61,548 at the 2011 census increasing from 59,550 in 2001, including the surrounding suburbs of Sandy Bay, Mineral Heights, Hazard, Palmers Cross, Denbigh, Race Track, and Four Paths among others. The town has a mayor.

O Baixo Miño

O Baixo Miño (English: Lower Miño, Spanish: Bajo Miño, Portuguese: Baixo Minho) is a comarca in the Galician province of Pontevedra. The area covers 315.1 sq.km, and the overall population of this comarca was 50,978 at the 2011 Census; the latest official estimate (as at the start of 2018) was 49,646.. To the west of O Baixo Miño lies the Atlantic Ocean and to its southeast is the Minho River, which forms a natural boundary with Portugal.

Ponte Vella

Ponte Vella (Galician, "old bridge", Ponte Romana (Roman bridge), Ponte Maior (great bridge)) is a medieval footbridge built on Roman foundations in Ourense, Spain. Located at the intersection of N120 and Rua Progreso, it spans the Minho River. Its steep rise of 135 feet (41 m) above the Minho River makes for safe passage during flash floods. At one time, it was considered to be the biggest bridge in all of Spain.


Portomarín is a municipality in the Spanish province of Lugo. It has a population of 2008 (Spanish 2001 Census) and an area of 115 km². It is located on the pilgrimage route known as the French Way of the Camino de Santiago.

The town of Portomarín was constructed and built next to a Roman bridge over the Minho River and rebuilt in the Middle Ages.

Rio Minho-class fiscalization boat

The Rio Minho-class fiscalization boat is a class of patrol vessels designed by the Portuguese Navy to conduct patrol missions in shallow waters. Only one ship of the class was built, the NRP Rio Minho (P370), which is used to patrol the Minho River.

Roman bridge of Lugo

The Roman bridge of Lugo is a bridge of Roman origin in Lugo, Galicia, that has been reconstructed and repaired several times. The bridge crosses the Minho river.

Sil (river)

The Sil is a river in León (Castile and León) and Galicia, Spain, a tributary of the Miño. Its total length is 225 kilometres (140 mi). The source of the Sil is in the Cantabrian Mountains in the Leonese town of Villablino. It flows through the provinces of León and Ourense. The largest city on the Sil is Ponferrada (León). The Sil flows into the Miño upstream from Ourense.

Treaty of Lisbon (1864)

Treaty of Lisbon is a treaty on boundaries between Spain and Portugal from the mouth of the Minho River to the junction of the Caia River with the Guadiana River. Signed at Lisbon on 29 September 1864. This abolished the Couto Misto microstate.

The final act of approving annexes to the treaty was signed at Lisbon on 4 November 1866.

Ulla (river)

The Ulla (río Ulla in Galician and Spanish) is a river in Galicia, Spain.

Its source is sometimes given as Antas de Ulla and sometimes the neighbouring municipality of Monterroso. It flows to Ría de Arosa.

Its basin is the largest in Galicia after the Minho River. Tributaries include the rivers Deza and Arnego.

The river is also valued by archaeologists owing to the large number of artifacts, dating as far back as the Neolithic, discovered here. The outlet of the Ulla River and the mouth of the estuary, called Ría de Arousa, are the two sites where archaeologists have discovered remains consistently. Rock carvings have been discovered here. The Ulla River is also important because it is the river in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula to produce a large number of watery hoards, which were discovered in its lower reaches and its mouth.

Valença, Portugal

Valença (Portuguese pronunciation: [vɐˈlẽsɐ] (listen), locally [bɐˈlẽsɐ]), also known as Valença do Minho, is a municipality and a town in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 14,127, in an area of 117.13 km2.Valença officially became a city on 12 June 2009. The municipality is located in Viana do Castelo District. The present Mayor is Jorge Mendes, elected by the Social Democratic Party (PSD). The municipal holiday is 18 February.

Vila Nova de Cerveira

Vila Nova de Cerveira (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvilɐ ˈnɔvɐ ðɨ sɨɾˈvɐjɾɐ] (listen), locally [ˈbilɐ ˈnɔβɐ ðɨ sɨɾˈβɐjɾɐ]) is a municipality in the district of Viana do Castelo in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 9,253, in an area of 108.47 km².The present (from 2013 to 2017) Mayor is Fernando Nogueira, elected by the PenCe (independent movement). The municipal holiday is October 1.


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