What is the Limia-Lima river cross-border area?

This cross-border territory flows between Spain and Portugal along the 108 km of the Limia-Lima River. It begins in the Galician mountains to flow through the regions to which it gives its name, Alta and Baixa Limia, and ends in an impressive final section through the lands of Ponte de Lima and Viana do Castelo in the north of Portugal, ending in the Atlantic Ocean. 

On the border is located the Natural Park Baixa Limia-Serra do Xurés, a natural area with special biological and landscape characteristics.  The area was granted this protection status in 1993, by virtue of Law 4/1989 on the conservation of natural spaces and wild flora and fauna.  This Natural Park together with the Portuguese National Park of Peneda-Gêres form the Gêres – Xurés Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve.

The six municipalities that are the gateway to the Gerês-Xurés Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve

Among the main territories of Ourense that serve as an entrance to the Gerês-Xurés Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve are Calvos de Randín (A Limia), and those of A Baixa Limia (Bande, Muíños, Lobeira, Lobios and Entrimo)

Gerês-Xurés Park - Biosphere Reserve

Throughout its 20,920 hectares, the Baixa Limia-Serra do Xurés Natural Park extends over the south of the province of Ourense in the same line as the Portuguese National Park of Peneda-Gêres.  It stands out for its great variety of ecosystems (alluvial valleys, deciduous forests, peat bogs, scrubland and mountain meadows) and for the numerous quantities of endemic species present in its habitats. The place also has a valuable historical, artistic, ethnographic and gastronomic background.

UNESCO declared the Gerês – Xurés Park a Biosphere Reserve in 2009. It is a privileged environment, perfect to enjoy doing routes (on foot, on horseback or by bicycle) which permit, in a calm and respectful way with the environment, to enjoy the landscape, the flora and the fauna of the Park and the surrounding regions

The beautiful history of the surroundings of the Gêres-Xurés Cross-Border Park

Throughout the entire Cross-Border Biosphere Reserve, far from the main population centres of the two countries, there are visible traces of ancient settlements. Some are in the form of megaliths or passage graves (mamoas), but also in the form of tumuli and dolmens, which are fundamental testimonies to the skills of the ancient inhabitants of these lands. There are also many fortifications (castros) in different states of conservation

Balance between human activity and the natural environment

Since early historical times, agricultural and forestry techniques have been used to achieve a balance between human activity and the natural environment, which has made possible the maintenance of a natural and cultural heritage of exceptional and unique value.  Today we can still find megalithic, Celtic, Roman and medieval remains.

The footprint of ancient populations

In addition to the archaeological remains left by the Romans, other populations also left their traces in the area, such as the Suevi and Visigoths. We find in this period the Visigothic church of Santa Comba de Bande, for example. From the modern period, there are still pazos and structures such as A Trincheira, located in Lobios, which served to defend the area during the war with Portugal. 

Roman archaeological sites

On the banks of the Limia-Lima River the Romans also built the camp of Aquis Querquennis, whose vestiges remain today. This impressive Roman archaeological complex is located in the town of Bande, where you can take a tour to visit the exhumed ruins of the military camp, the road mansion (travellers’ inn), and the thermal baths. All in a landscape of unquestionable beauty.

Couto Mixto: immaterial legacy

The origins of this territory could go back to the Middle Ages. It is an area that was constituted as a geopolitical entity independent of the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, governing, in a practical way, themselves. The inhabitants governed themselves independently and their greatest authority was the judge of the Couto. In the 19th century, the Couto Mixto was integrated into Spain, but its population still symbolically maintains some of the particularities of that history.

Fronteira Esquecida Limia-Lima  is a project aimed at enhancing the natural and cultural resources of the Limia-Lima river and its surroundings


Project co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg V-A Spain-Portugal Programme (POCTEP) 2014-2020. www.poctep.eu

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