Chaves is a municipality and municipal seat of an area (591.3 km²) 10 km south of the Spanish border and 22 km south of Verín (Spain) in the north of Portugal. The municipality is the second most populous of the district of Vila Real (the district capital, Vila Real, is 60 km south on the A24 motorway). With origins in the Roman civitas Aquæ Flaviæ, Chaves has developed into a regional center with a population of 44,186 (2004), of whom, 17,535 reside in the urban area.
Artefacts discovered in the region of Chaves identify the earliest settlement of humans dating back to the Paleolithic. Remnants discovered in Mairos, Pastoria and São Lourenço, those associated with transient proto-historic settlements and castros, show a human presence in the Alto Tâmega dating to the Chalcolithic. The region has seen persistent human settlement since Roman legions conquered and occupied the fertile valley of the Tâmega River, constructing a nascent outpost and taking over the existing castros in the area.
Rome's hegemony lasted until the 3rd century, when, successively, the proto-Germanic Suebi, Visigoths and Alaunt tribes colonized the imperial settlements of Chaves. Wars betweenRemismund and Frumar followed over their claims to the throne, which almost completely destroyed the village (it was settled in favour of Frumar, who imprisoned Idácio, the notable Bishop of Chaves). Ironically, the Romans were complicit in Aquae Flaviae's near destruction. Barbarian dominion lasted until the Moors invaded from North Africa, defeating the Visigoth King Roderic at the beginning of the 8th century.