Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Rock Art in Portugal

In the early 1990s during construction works for a dam on the Côa River a number of rock art sites were discovered. They looked Palaeolithic in age, and eventually shown to be so. The campaign to stop the building of the dam became part of a political manifesto in national election. The party won, and the dam lost. The Côa Valley has an extraordinary collection of rock art sites, ranging in date from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age, the images are engraved onto rock surfaces that were rubbed smooth by glaciers. There is more Stone Age rock art to see at Escoural Cave in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

Rock Art Sites in Portugal

Côa Valley Archaeological Park

During the construction of a dam on the Côa River at the end of the 1980s rocks engraved with Palaeolithic imagery were discovered. A new government elected in 1995 stopped the construction of the dam and an archaeological park was established in 1996. Today there are over 70 known locations with some 1,000 engraved rocks and over 5,000 depictions, dating to the Upper Palaeolithic, Iron Age and historic periods. Guided tours to selected rock art sites are arranged by the museum or designated tour guides.

Rock Art Museums in Portugal

Côa Rock Art Museum - Museo do Côa

The Côa Museum was opened in 2010 and is one of the largest museums in Portugal. Blending in with its natural surroundings, the museum is dramatically situated above the Côa Valley, where it joins the Douro Valley – looking on to the rock art sites of this area. A series of well ordered displays and wonderful multimedia applications and exacting replicas cover the various aspects of the rock art’s archaeology in the valley and often turbulent history in Portugal since it was discovered.