The simple, educated and joyful way of being and living are the main characteristics of the inhabitants of the Montanhas Mágicas®.
During a walk through the village, in the restaurant, in a bar or even in the local market, get acquainted with the locals and get to know about the territory much more than you would otherwise know.
According to the 2011 Census, about 127,000 people live in the Magic Mountains. The age group of the inhabitants varies a little among the seven municipalities of the territory. From 13% to 16% are up to 14 years old; from 11% to 13% are between 15 and 24 years old; from 49% to 56% are between 25 and 64 years, and from 17% to 28% are over 64 years.
The most populous municipalities of Montanhas Mágicas are Vale de Cambra, Arouca and Cinfães, with more than 20,000 inhabitants, especially concentrated in the county seats and neighboring parishes. The remaining municipalities have between 12,000 and 17,000 inhabitants. The municipalities with the largest geographical area are Castro Daire, S. Pedro do Sul and Arouca (between 38 and 33 thousand hectares).
Due to the predominantly mountainous characteristics of this territory and the unusual fertility of its valleys, agriculture and pastoralism were, over many centuries, the main activities of the inhabitants, in particular the mining activity, especially during and a few decades after The I and II World Wars.
The agricultural activity promoted, among others, the development of the dairy industry, making possible the implantation of some big companies at national and international level. The growth of this sector has led to the implementation of other complementary industries, such as metal-mechanics or the packaging industry. These three sectors, along with the wood one, have contributed and are still fundamental to the industrial "strength" of the territory.
With the increasing abandonment of agriculture and pastoralism, many inhabitants, especially young people, were obliged to migrate and emigrate, causing a marked desertification, especially in the more isolated villages and parishes.
In spite of the significant abandonment of the agricultural activity, the excellent conditions that the territory offers for the practice of this activity has stimulated the appearance of new companies linked to the production of teas and herbs, some of them with organic production, as well as the production of fruits, especially blueberries and other red fruits.
The production of vinhos verdes (green wines) continues to be one of the most important activities, and the breeding of the Arouca cattle and of the Gralheira kid are also activities with a significant weight in the context of the primary sector.
The importance of the secondary and tertiary sectors, which together account for 94% of the employed population of the Montanhas Mágicas, is now clear. The tertiary sector predominates in most of the municipalities of this territory, with rates ranging from 65% to 45%. Although this is a small difference, in the municipalities of Castelo de Paiva and Vale de Cambra the secondary sector predominates.
Tourism has been assuming a growing and strategic importance in all the economic activities of the territory.
Sports are one of the activities most appreciated by the inhabitants of the Montanhas Mágicas, especially the practice of outdoor walks and mountain bike tours. The more than 600 km of pedestrian routes in the territory, the Passadiços do Paiva, the Vouga Ecotrail, the sports and leisure parks and the landscapes and natural resources that is possible to enjoy, so close to home, justify their preferences.
Young people like to organize themselves in teams and to participate in soccer tournaments. This sport, at a professional level, has come to stand out in some of our municipalities.
Local farmers' markets, fairs and exhibitions, festivals and pilgrimages and all the cultural events and activities that take place throughout the year in the Montanhas Mágicas always count on a great involvement, affluence and participation of the inhabitants, revealing their cheerful spirit and taste for conviviality.
From the music and performing arts area
Who does not know the unmistakable voice and contagious smile of Isabel Silvestre?
Born in Manhouce, in the municipality of S. Pedro do Sul, Isabel Silvestre was a primary school teacher. In 1978 she founded the Grupo de Cantares e Trajes (Songs and Costumes Group) of Manhouce and, in 1992, became known to the general public through her participation in the GNR hit, "Pronúncia do Norte".
participated in the tribute album to António Variações next to
names like Sérgio Godinho, Mão Morta, Madredeus and Delfins. Her
first album, composed of several hits, whose roots refer to the
places where she was born and raised, was produced by João Gil.
One of her most well-known themes is "A gente não lê”, with lyrics by Carlos Tê and music by Rui Veloso.
Author of publications such as “Cancioneiro de Manhouce" and the book "Doçuras", Isabel Silvestre is very dear and cherished by the inhabitants of the Montanhas Mágicas. More info
From the scientific area
Manuel Sobrinho Simões
With a strong connection to Arouca because of his father and grandfather, Manuel Sobrinho Simões, Pathologist, Full Professor of the University of Porto Medical College and President of IPATIMUP - Institute of Pathology and Molecular and Cellular Immunology of the University of Porto (which he founded in 1989), was elected in 2015 as the most influential pathologist in the world by the British magazine The Patologist, and received a vote of praise from the General Council of the University of Porto. In 2016 he won the Grande Premio Ciência Viva Montepio. More info