Portuguese is an ancient language with a rich history.
Delving into the warren of winding streets and alleys that forms the district is one of the top activities for visitors to Portugal’s capital. As you stroll, great cathedrals like the Lisbon Cathedral and tile-fronted chapels, reveal themselves on the corners. There are also the remains of old city walls as well as hidden squares with al fresco cafes aplenty.
It was built to mark Portugal’s most glorious age, called ‘The Age of Exploration’. The fusion of architectural designs, known as the Manueline style, stands as testimony to the cultures encountered by Lisbon’s explorers, while the money used to build the structure came from Portugal’s international trade in cloves, cumin and exotic spices. It is also another of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The National Museum of Ancient Art is the home of Portugal’s prestigious national art collection. Pieces here range from pious saintly depictions by Nuno Gonçalves to chiaroscuro portraiture by Josefa de Óbidos. Most of the canvasses date from between the 16th and 19th centuries, and came into public ownership following the Liberal Wars that rocked the country in the early modern age.
Surfing is one of the main attractions in Portugal, and Ericeira is a small fishing village with a big reputation for catching waves. It’s also easy to get to from Lisbon. While it’s not the closest beach town to the capital, it is one of the busiest. However, sitting along the cliffs that fringe the coast and watching surfers (or surfing yourself) isn’t the only thing to do here; Ericeira’s restaurants are among the top spots for indulging in fresh, delicious Portuguese seafood.
Break away from the crowds by visiting the Alentejo region. The area’s capital city, Évora, is another lovely spot with a rich history and a mysterious nature. This makes it a perfect Halloween destination, especially when taking into consideration the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones. Inside (and on) the walls of this 16th-century church are approximately 5,000 human skeletons.
How about visiting a city located within the castle walls? Charming, picturesque, and romantic, Óbidos is a great place to bring a camera or smartphone and make your Instagram account more colorful. Expect clusters of white houses framed in bright flowers and souvenir shops ready for tourists. Don’t miss a taste of the Ginja de Óbidos, a cherry liqueur sometimes served in tiny chocolate cups. Once offered as the wedding gift from Portuguese kings to their queens, the city has developed a reputation of one of the most romantic destinations in Portugal.
Portugal is renowned for its heritage and architecture. In addition to the World Heritage cities, many others also stand out, including Viana do Castelo, Braga, Ponte de Lima and Amarante, in the north, Viseu in the centre, Tavira and Silves in Algarve, and Funchal and Ponta Delgada in Madeira and the Azores, respectively.
In the early 20th century, Portuguese poetry became more popular, with the work of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), the most-translated Portuguese poet. However, it was the prose of José Saramago (1922-2013), which won a Nobel Prize in 1998.
In summer, especially, Portugal comes alive with traditional festivities such as those in Viana do Castelo, Tomar, Campo Maior or the Flower Festival in Funchal, Madeira. And do not forget the Popular Saints' Parades in Lisbon on 13 June and Porto, on 24 June.
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