The county of Mealhada attracts tourists thanks to three valuable resources: the wonderful National Forest of Buçaco (Bussaco), the thermal waters and spa of Luso and a renowned gastronomic speciality, leitão da Bairrada (roast sucking-pig), served at countless local restaurants. The ancient and magic forest of Buçaco covers 105 hectares (260 acres) of a priceless natural patrimony which includes rare and exotic trees from all over the world, originally brought to the zone by the Carmelite monks, who founded a monastery here in 1628. However, the woodland offers more than its luxuriant botanical treasures, as it also shelters historical, religious and architectural sites such as the Via Sacra (a path with chapels displaying life-size figures marking the Stations of the Cross), the Military Museum dedicated to the Peninsular War (the duke of Wellington fought a famous battle here), or Fonte Fria (cold fountain), an impressive stone cascade fed by the forest s springs. At the heart of the wood, the astonishing and romantic Buçaco Palace Hotel, originally built as a hunting lodge for king Carlos, was completed in 1907.
The well-known thermal waters of Luso, which are sold bottled all over Portugal, are also born at the county and the spa of Luso offers treatment for a wide range of complaints, besides several elegant hotels.
At table, the delicious roast sucking-pig with crisp crackling dominates the local gastronomy, but there are other typical specialities, such as chanfana (kid stew in wine).
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