Then history of Arouca is directly connected to the history of its Monastery. It was around the Monastery that for many centuries the people from Arouca worked and lived, prayed and enjoyed some of their few free time.
Besides the Arouca Monastery, that includes the Parish Church and the D. Mafalda tomb, there are other interesting monuments in Arouca such as the Misericórdia Chapel built in 1612, the granite Calvário with an interesting pulpit dated from 1643, the 16th century São Pedro Chapel in a gothic style, the Nossa Senhora do Carmo Chapel, the 18th century Santo António Chapel, the Santa Luzia Chapel on a nearby mount in between pine tree and eucalyptus woods, the Nossa Senhora da Mó Chapel.
Other interesting monuments show off the big heritage interest of Arouca, such as the ancient building of the hospital, nowadays Municipal Library, which was the residence of the nun’s confessors priests; the Malafaias House, a Manor House, known as the “big house” from the 18th century; the Santo António Memorial, also known as Rainha Santa Arch, in a Romanesque style, probably dated from the 12th century; or the 14th century Mouros Tower which was part of a manor house, located in Lourosa dos Campos.
Allied to the Arouca’s geologic richness, there is also an amazing biologic heritage in the region. The peaks and wild slopes shelter some Portuguese flora species preciousness, such as oak and chestnut trees, birch and holy, among many others.
River Paiva is the biggest water course in Arouca department. It is a typical mountainside river, with excellent conditions for the practice of several activities, such as rafting. It also presents peaceful Fluvial Beaches, as in Paradinha, Areinho, Janarde, Meitriz, Vau and Espiunca.
Arouca is projecting a Geopark in order to preserve and valorize the geologic heritage of the region, as for instance the schist and granite landscape of the amazing Freita Montain, the Frecha da Mizarela, the Paiva River Waterfalls, the trilobites fossils of Orvodício or even the Roman Mining vestiges.
Arouca is also famous for its sweets and pastry, with a big conventual influence. In fact, made by the nuns of the Arouca Convent, the sweets were considered to be the great highlight of the Convent. With the extinction of the religious orders in 1838, these sweets recipes were nevertheless maintained by servants and preserved in family tradition until nowadays, using the same ancestral methods. Specialities such as the “castanhas doces”, the “almond roscas”, the “barrigas de freira”, the “manjar de lingual”, the “São Bernardo Bread” or the “charutos” can still be found in the region, using as base sugar, eggs and almonds.