A PENCHANT FOR PORTUGAL


Monday February 1, 2021


GRAND ADVENTURE
By ANNA MARIE MATEESCU

PORTUGAL The Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: República Portuguesa) is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula in south-western Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelago of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments. The official national language is Portuguese and Lisbon is the capital.

Portugal is the oldest nation state on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in Europe. Its territory has been continuously settled, invaded, and fought-over since prehistoric times. It was inhabited by pre-Celtic and Celtic peoples, visited by Phoenicians-Carthaginians, Ancient Greeks, and ruled by the Romans, all of whom were followed by the invasions of the Suebi and Visigothic Germanic people. After the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, most of its territory was part of Al-Andalus. Portugal as a country was established during the early Christian Reconquista. Founded in 868, the County of Portugal gained prominence after the Batthle of Sap. The Kingdom of Portugal was later proclaimed following the Battle of Ourique, and independence from Leon recognized by the Treaty of Zamora.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal established the first global maritime and commercial empire, becoming one of the world’s major economic, political, and military powers. During this period, today referred to as the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers pioneered maritime exploration with the discovery of what would become Brazil. During this time Portugal monopolized the spice trade, divided the world into hemispheres of dominion with Castile, and the empire expanded with military campaigns in Asia. However, events such as the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, the country’s occupation during the Napoleonic Wars, and the independence of Brazil in 1822 erased to a great extent of Portugal’s prior opulence.

After the 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, the democratic – but unstable – Portuguese First Republic was established; superseded by the Estado Novo authoritarian regime. Democracy was restored after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, ending the Portuguese Colonial War. Shortly after, independence was granted to almost all its overseas territories. The handover of Macau to China in 1999 marked the end of what can be considered one of the longest-lived colonial empires.

What was left is a profound cultural, architectural, and linguistic influence across the global; with a legacy of around 250 million Portuguese speakers, many of them Portuguese-based. It is a developed country with an advanced economy and high-living standards. Additionally, it is highly placed in rankings for moral freedom, peacefulness, democratic peacefulness, democratic press freedom, stability, social progress, and prosperity. A member of the United Nations, the European Union, the Shengen, and the Council of Europe, Portugal was also one of the founding members of NATO, the Eurozone, the OECD, and the Community Portuguese Language Countries.

Portugal’s main industries include textiles & footwear, wood pulp, paper, and cork, metals & metalworking, oil refining, chemicals, fish canning, rubber & plastic products, ceramics, electronics & communications equipment, rail transportation equipment, aerospace equipment, ship construction, and refurbishment.

LISBON

Lisbon is Portugal’s hilltop coastal capital city. From the imposing Sao Jorge Castle, the view encompasses the old city’s pastel-colored building, Tagus Estuary, and the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Nearby, the National Azulejo Museum displays 5 centuries-worth of decorative Ceramic tiles. Just outside of Lisbon is a string of Atlantic beaches, from Cascais to Estoril. It is probably best known for its colonialist history, ornate architecture, and tradition of Fado music. But some of its best features are in the everyday spectacular hilltop vistas in Alfama or at St. George’s Castle; with pleasant year-round weather and friendly locals. Bacalhau – dried and salted cod – is Portugal’s national dish; although saying national dish is a bit confusing as there really isn’t just one recipe for bacalhau. Rumor has it that there are more than 365 different ways to cook bacalhau, and some people say that’s even an underestimation. This dish is equally popular in the Philippines.

Lisbon is a sprawling metropolis with great nightlife as well. If the early October weather in Lisbon is still beach weather in Faro, travel between the two may be worth splitting the time between the two locations. Faro is more of a beach resort-type destination, and I doubt that you could occupy four days there. Belém Tower, officially the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a 16th century fortification located in Lisbon. It served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built during the height of the Portuguese Renaissance, and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style; but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. The structure was built from lioz limestone, and is composed of a bastion as well as a 30-metre, four-story tower. Since 1983, the tower has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Jerónimos Monastery. It is often portrayed as a symbol of Europe’s Age of Discoveries and as a metonym for Portugal or Lisbon, given its landmark status. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus river near the Lisbon shore.

Faro is the capital of southern Portugal’s Algarve region. The city’s neoclassical Arco da Vila is on the site of a gate that was part of the original Moorish wall. The monumental archway leads to the old town, with its cobbled streets. Nearby is FARO CATHEDRAL, built in the 13th century. The Municipal Museum, in a 16th century convent, displays prehistoric and medieval artifacts, along with religious art.

Sintra is a resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near the capital of Lisbon. A longtime royal sanctuary, its forested terrain is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces. The Moorish and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tile work. The hilltop 19th century Pena National Palace is known for its whimsical design and sweeping views. Sintra is one of the most beautiful and most unique places in Portugal and is absolutely worth a visit; with fairytale-like castles and the most enchanting gardens, a visit to Sintra is worth your time even if you are coming from the other side of the world. Sintra is a major tourist destination in Portugal, famed for its picturesqueness and for its historic palaces and castles.

The area includes the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park through which the Sintra Mountains run. Sintra is only 25km from Lisbon, and is connected by a regular train service. It’s easily one of the most beautiful places in Portugal and certainly packs some punch when it comes to amazing sights to see. Truth be told, a mere glance at photos of Sintra will leave you convinced to visit, I’m sure. This is exactly what got us to visit that very first time. After being told how easy it was to visit while in Lisbon, we knew we had to make the trip over.

Lagos is a town in southern Portugal’s Algarve region. It’s known for its walled old town, cliffs, and Atlantic beaches. Steep wooden steps lead to the sandy cove of Praia do Camilo. The nearby cliffs of Ponta de Piedade offer sweeping headland views and a lighthouse. Igreja de Santo António, an ornate 18th century church, sits across from the Castelo dos Governadores, a castle with a baroque facade and watchtowers. Lagos is one of the most visited cities in the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly beaches, rock formations (like Ponta da Piedade), bars, restaurants, and hotels, renowned for its vibrant summer nightlife and parties. Yet, Lagos is also a historic center of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, frequent home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyard, and at one time, center of the European slave trade in 2012.

Lagos is an ancient maritime town with more than 2000 years of history. The name Lagos comes from a Celtic settlement, derived from the Latin Lacobriga, the name of the settlement was established during the prepunic civilizations. It became an early settlement of the Carthaginians, who recruited Celtic tribesmen in their war against the Romans, specifically the Punic Wars. Owing to its already important harbor, it was colonized by the Romans and integrated into the Roman province of Lusitania, becoming known as Lacobriga. Quintus Sertorius, a rebellious Roman general, helped by the Lusitanians of Lacobriga – who had been oppressed under Roman generals and members of Lucius Cornelius Sulla party – successfully defeated the Roman army of Caecillius Metellus Pius, likely at the nearby Monte Moliao. With the fall of Rome, the town of Lagos was occupied in the 6th century by the Visigoths from the Kingdom of Toledo, and later by the Byzantines. Coimbra, a riverfront city in central Portugal and the country’s former capital, is home to a preserved medieval old town and the historic University of Coimbra. Built on the grounds of a former palace, the university is famed for its baroque library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and its 18th century bell tower. In the city’s old town lies the 12th century Romanesque cathedral Sé Velha. The city of Coimbra served as the capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1385, and was the birthplace of six monarchs from the Portuguese 1st Dynasty. Noted for its cultural traditions and artistic treasures, Coimbra was long the intellectual capital of Portugal and remains one of its most picturesque cities. This city is worth a visit, especially if you’re looking to explore towns that aren’t overrun by tourists. Many people do a day trip to Coimbra on their way to either Porto or Lisbon, which is doable, but I do recommend at least one night to really experience its charm.



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