Chaves (42 000 inhabitants) and Verín (15 000 inhabitants) are
two towns located on the Portuguese-Spanish border, between
North Portugal and the Autonomous Community of Galicia. Far
from only 15 km from each other (city centers, because the
municipalities are really together, only the former customs
separate them), they both have a great historical importance,
Chaves being the site of an important Roman garrison and later
being in the forefront of resistance during the Napoleonic
invasions of the early nineteenth century and Verín with its
Monterrey Castle which played an important role throughout the
Portuguese-Spanish wars, having been strategically built on the
frontier for the purpose.
Since 2007, they form together the Chaves-Verín Eurocity, a conurbation of 57 000 inhabitants. This common territory is not separated Tâmega River, and form on the contrary a natural corridor between the two cities and countries. Many of the local people, mostly on the Portuguese side, have emigrated to northern Europe, especially France in the 1970’s and return visit their villages in summer (population of Chaves doubles in August). Concerning the proximity cross-border flows, there isn’t yet any statistics available.
The two border areas share some characteristics.
- In term of infrastructures, they were considered as isolated: Chaves has been isolated from the coastal urban centers and has suffered from a lack of convenient road communications till 2007. Verín is linked with Madrid and Ourense/Vigo by the highway A-52. Recently, a new highway (A24) was opened to traffic and links Chaves to the rest of Portugal (Vila Real, Porto, Viseu, Lisbon). Finally, the Portuguese-Spanish highway connecting was finish, with the construction of highway A75, which links A24 with A52.
- The local economy is still based on agriculture (potatoes, corn, rye or milk production on the Portuguese side and wine production on the Spanish side), industry (water bottling and construction, a sector in crisis today) and services (especially health tourism on the Portuguese side, more cultural tourism on the Spanish side with the Monterey Castle). Today, the cross-border area tries to attract more investors drawing profit from its strategic position in the Iberia peninsula.
Moreover, both cities and their surroundings want to develop the cross-border area through exchanges in the field of culture, of students, the development of a public transport network creating a direct daily link between or access to health or the development of joint activities in the filled of tourism, research, education and vocational training, sports, logistics/industry and environment.