AH Castelo Rodrigo – AH Marialva
Great Bicycle Route
Castelo Rodrigo, Marialva
Places of passage: Freixeda do Torrão, Faia Brava, Cidadelhe, Juízo, Gateira.
The path leaves behind the Historical Village of Castelo Rodrigo, heading west along the PR2 FCR route, predominantly on dirt, towards the Côa valley, around the Serra da Marofa and past Freixeda do Torrão. At the intersection of the tarmac road that connects Cidadelhe to the villages on the right bank and when it reaches the gate of Reserva da Faia Brava, a Private Protected Area, the route joins the Côa Great Route to abruptly descend the valley, cross the river and start the demanding climb of the slope, gaining different views of the river valley. The bike path GR22 follows the tar road and, higher up, the presence of cork oaks announces the arrival at Cidadelhe. The route leaves from Cidadelhe along a plateau and agricultural area, heading south to Juízo. There, it turns northwest and descends into the valley of the Massueime stream, which it crosses shortly after. Leaving the valley, it passes through Gateira, after which it crosses a mixed and flat landscape, overlooking Marialva and its castle. When they reach the IP2, the GR22's pedestrian and cycling paths diverge in their trajectory. The cycling route crosses the IP2 in the area of the junction, passes through Devesa and goes up to the castle from the south side.
Fauna and Flora
_CASTELO RODRIGO_ Castelo Rodrigo is located at the eastern end of Serra da Marofa, an alignment that reaches 977 meters in the adjacent elevation. This higher ground gives us a fantastic overview of the area of Riba-Côa, Alto Douro, and the Iberian Meseta. It is a structure in a syncline, made up of quartz ridges from the lower Ordovician and shales from the lower Silurian. Paleontologically, there are reports of ichnofossils of the genus Cruziana in the quartzites and fragments of Neseuretus sp. in the shales from the lower Silurian. The deep valley of Côa surrounds this mountain to the west and south. Holm oaks resist in the highest and most exposed areas; just below them, we can find cork oaks. A few chestnut trees can be found in the more shadowy slopes. In some of its rock formations, the Eurasian griffon, a vulture, finds the perfect place to build its nest. _CIDADELHE_ The incredible natural landscapes that can be observed from Cidadelhe’s 500 meters altitude stand out. To the east, you can see the Côa nested valley and, a little farther away, the horizon shows the profile of Serra da Marofa. To the west, the views extend to the granitic alignment where Marialva and Mêda are located. In its nearest surroundings, there are cork oak forests, together with holm oaks and traditional old olive groves, which grow in the few intervals left by the massive granitic outcrops that characterize this landscape. The slopes that descend to the banks of the Côa river include the Private Protected Area of Faia Brava. These rugged riverbanks house a rich and endangered community of vultures and other rupicolous birds. _MARIALVA_ Just outside Marialva we find an agricultural area with a high density of birds, among which stand out the cirl bunting, the spotless starling, and the Eurasian hoopoe, which, by staying here during winter, proves the Mediterranean character of this area. Closer to the river we can find examples of junipers, Montpellier maples, and turpentine trees, so characteristic of the Douro environments. On the slopes of the Côa, the landscape is characterized by being a valley nestled between granite cliffs. The river houses species such as the Iberian green frog, the marbled newt, the viperine water snake, and the common otter, but flying overhead we find the crag martin and the red-rumped swallow, while the common chiffchaffs sing amidst the broom.