Portugal is the perfect holiday destinations, with 3000 hours of sunshine per year and 850 kilometers of beatches bathed by the Atlantic Ocean.
Situated in the south-west of Europe, Portugal attracts visitors from all over the world, with an exceptional range of different landscapes just a short distance away, lots of leisure activities and a unique cultural heritage, where tradition and modernity blend together in perfect harmony.
Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year. The main tourist regions can be broken-down into: the Greater Lisbon, the Algarve, Greater Porto and Northern Portugal, the Portuguese Islands: Madeira and Azores, and Alentejo. Other tourist regions include Douro Sul, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa do Sol, Costa Azul, Planície Dourada, that are unknown to many tourists or visitors.
Portugal has developed a specific culture while being influenced by various civilizations that have crossed the Mediterranean and the European continent, or were introduced when it played an active role during the Age of Discovery. In the 1990s and 2000s (decade), Portugal modernized its public cultural facilities, in addition to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation established in 1956 in Lisbon. These include the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon, Serralves Foundation and the Casa da Música, both in Porto, as well as new public cultural facilities like municipal libraries and concert halls that were built or renovated in many municipalities across the country. Portugal is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking it 8th in Europe and 17th in the world.
Traditional architecture is distinctive and include the Manueline, also known as Portuguese late Gothic, a sumptuous, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century. A 20th-century interpretation of traditional architecture, Soft Portuguese style, appears extensively in major cities, especially Lisbon.
The capital of Portugal is a city of contrasts, but also a modern city, a city with an wonderful history, a city of full life, a city to discover.
It is the westernmost large city located in Europe, as well as its westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. Lisbon is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. It is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast.
The city of Lisbon is rich in architecture Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern constructions can be found all over Lisbon. The city is also crossed by historical boulevards and monuments along the main thoroughfares, particularly in the upper districts, notable among these are the Avenida da Liberdade, Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, Avenida Almirante Reis and Avenida da República. There are several substantial museums that can visit in the city. The most famous ones are the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art), the National Azulejo Museum, the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum), containing varied collections of ancient and modern art, the Museu Nacional do Traje e da Moda (National Museum of Costume and Fashion), the Berardo Collection Museum (Modern Art) at the Belém Cultural Center. Lisbon’s Opera House, the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, hosts a relatively active cultural agenda, mainly in autumn and winter. Other important theatres and musical houses are the Centro Cultural de Belém, the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, the Gulbenkian Foundation, and the Teatro Camões.
Dom Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira, was a Portuguese explorer. He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by ocean route, as well as the Atlantic and the Indian oceans entirely and definitively, and in this way, the West and the Orient. This discovery was significant and opened the way for an age of global imperialism and for the Portuguese to establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia. The route meant that the Portuguese would not need to cross the highly disputed Mediterranean or the dangerous Arabian Peninsula, and that the whole voyage would be made by sea. The sum of the distances covered in the outward and return voyages made this expedition the longest ocean voyage ever made until then, far longer than a full voyage around the world by way of the Equator.
The first tramway in Lisbon entered service on 17 November 1873, as a horsecar line. On 30 August 1901, Lisbon’s first electric tramway commenced operations. Within a year, all of the city’s tramways had been converted to electric traction. Up until 1959, the network of lines was further developed, and in that year it reached its greatest extent. At that time, there was a total of 27 tram lines in Lisbon, of which six operated as circle lines.
Is the second-largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon, and one of the major urban areas in Southwestern Europe. The urban area of Porto, which extends beyond the administrative limits of the city, has a population of 1.4 million. Located along the Douro river estuary in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Its settlement dates back many centuries, when it was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Its Latin name, Portus Cale, has been referred to as the origin of the name “Portugal”, based on transliteration and oral evolution from Latin.
The first Portuguese moving pictures were taken in Porto by Aurélio da Paz dos Reis and shown there on 12 November 1896 in Teatro do Príncipe Real do Porto, less than a year after the first public presentation by Auguste and Louis Lumière. The country’s first movie studios Invicta Filmes was also erected in Porto in 1917 and was open from 1918 to 1927 in the area of Carvalhido. Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese film director and the oldest director in the world who is still active, is from Porto. Fantasporto is an international film festival organized in Porto every year.
The Douro river is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra in Soria Province across northern-central Spain and Portugal to its outlet at Porto.
The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal. The region has as its administrative centre the city of Faro, where both the region’s international airport (FAO) and public university (the University of the Algarve) are located. Tourism and related activities are extensive and make up the bulk of the Algarve’s summer economy. Production of food, which includes fish and other seafood, fruit, oranges, carob beans, figs and almonds, is also economically important in the region. The Algarve is the most popular tourist destination in Portugal, and one of the most popular in Europe. Its population triples in the peak holiday season thanks to a high influx of visitors, and receives an average of 7 million foreign tourists each year. In total, including national visitors, almost 10 million people visit the Algarve annually. Algarve’s mild climate has attracted interest from Northern Europeans wishing to have a holiday home or residence in the region. Being a region of Portugal, and therefore in the European Union, any EU citizen has the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality in the Algarve. British expatriates, followed by German, Dutch and Scandinavians, are among the largest groups wishing to own a home in this sunny region of Portugal. Tourism plays an important role in the economy of the Algarve. A large number of seasonal job opportunities are tourism-related and are fulfilled by thousands of immigrant workers from other countries.
The Algarve is famous for its pottery and ceramics, particularly hand-painted pottery and azulejos or tiles. There are numerous ceramics and pottery outlets throughout the Algarve. For working potteries/ceramics workshops the main, or best-known, pottery centers are located in the towns of Almancil, Porches and Loulé. But there are many other potteries and workshops in the Algarve region.
Albufeira, is a city and a municipality in the Faro District of the Algarve Region, in southernmost Portugal. It is a main tourist destination, due to its coastal location. Tourism and commerce are the main activities in Albufeira. Most tourists arrive via Faro Airport. After sunset, the centre of Albufeira comes alive with bars, restaurants, and shops to suit most tastes, from authentic Portuguese-fare to Irish, English, and Dutch restaurants and pubs. The tourist areas are divided into two main areas, Areias de São João, known colloquially as ‘The Strip’, and the Old Town. The Strip’s main street is Avenida Francisco Sá Carneiro which is full of bars, restaurants and open-air discothèques. Unfortunately it is not a pedestrian street so cars pass through the crowd at all hours. It is a very nightlife oriented area, very popular with young people. The Albufeira Bull Ring is close by, as is the Kiss-nightclub. The Old Town is situated right at the seafront and is predominantly a pedestrian area. Street-artists entertain the crowds and there is an incredible large choice of restaurants, bars and shops. There are open-air discothèques and many bars that have a live band every night (the most famous being Snoopy Bar on the seafront and Vertigo on the central square). Measured in number of bars and restaurants the Old Town is about three times the size of The Strip. Albufeira has two main beaches, Praia dos Pescadores, or the Fisherman’s beach, and Praia do Túnel, or the tunnel beach to the West, which is accessed through a tunnel through the cliffs. Access to the beaches is straight from the esplanade, for people coming from the higher areas open-air escalators (eastside) and an open-air elevator (westside) were built. The beaches are connected, and from the “Praia dos Pescadores” beachgoers can walk for miles eastbound and will find again and again a new beach. To the west the beaches are bordered by the Albufeira Marina, a harbour which offers a variety of boat trips along the Algarve coast.
Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon.
It is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon. Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date to the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality. The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginiansas a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorishpeoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura (Moorish Encirclment).
The castle is located in the centre of the city of Lisbon, over an escarpment, while many of its walls extend around the citadel into the civil parishes that surround it to the east and south. The castle’s footprint is roughly square, and it was originally encircled by a wall, to form a citadel. The castle complex consists of the castle itself (the castelejo), some ancillary buildings (including the ruins of the royal palace), gardens, and a large terraced square from which an impressive panorama of Lisbon is visible. The main entrance to the citadel is a 19th-century gate surmounted by the coat-of-arms of Portugal, the name of Queen Maria II, and the date, 1846. This gate permits access to the main square (Praça d’Armas), which is decorated with old cannons and a bronze statue of Afonso Henriques, the Portuguese monarch who took the castle from the Moors. This statue is a copy of the 19th-century original by the romantic sculptor, António Soares dos Reis, which is located near Guimarães Castle in central Portugal.