Destination Overview PORTUGAL

Portugal is a southern European country on the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain. Its location on the Atlantic Ocean has influenced many aspects of its culture: salt cod and grilled sardines are national dishes, the Algarve’s beaches are a major destination and much of the nation’s architecture dates to the 1500s–1800s, when Portugal had a powerful maritime empire.

In constant battle and rivalry with Spain, its eastern neighbour, Portugal then turned to the sea and, after Henry the Navigator’s establishment of a school of navigation at Sagres, in time founded a vast overseas empire that would become Europe’s largest and richest. Much of that empire was quickly lost, but even then Portugal retained sizable holdings along the African coast, in southern and eastern Asia, and in South America. Portugal remained a colonial power until the mid-1970s, when a peaceful revolution transformed the country from a dictatorship into a democratic republic. Long among the poorest countries of Europe, Portugal modernized in the last decades of the 20th century, expanding its economy from one based primarily on textile manufacture and livestock raising to include a range of manufactures and services.

 

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Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and economic and cultural centre. The city clings to low but steep hills situated on the right bank of the Tagus and is a popular tourist destination. Lisbon is rather more tranquil and reserved than Madrid in neighbouring Spain, but it shares with it a reputation for great food, melancholy and romantic music, dance, and sport. Portuguese traditionally have prized a simple and unostentatious life, favouring the rural over the urban and the traditional to the modern, where a fine meal might consist of carne de porco à Alentejana (lean pork stuffed with clams), thick-crusted bread, and dark wine.

Portuguese delight in the countryside, where they gather to hold family picnics, tend to their gardens and orchards, and relax. It is from the countryside that the fado, a form of romantic ballad, is thought to have come (though it is now clearly associated with the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra), and it is in the countryside that the country’s traditional sport of bullfighting takes its finest form, though in Portuguese bullfighting the bull is not killed but rather is retired to the countryside for the rest of its life.

Top Destinations

Rome – Italy’s capital is rich of relicts of ancient glories such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum Romanum, as well as the riches of the Vatican. But Rome is more than history, there are many more place to see and experience in one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. The “Eternal City” is full of cultural and culinary delights, from modern art galleries to experimental cuisines.

Florence – With it’s landmark of world architecture, the Duomo, Florence is definitely a showcase of the Italian Renaissance. The city is renowned as one of the most cultural and historical cities in the world, packed full of unique architecture and art sites. Visit the world famous Campanile, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Uffizi Palace and Gallery, or stroll along the old bridge Ponte Vecchio.

Milan – For those interested in design and fashion, Milan is the place to be. The city has one of the highest concentration of artistic and architectural attractions in the country. All ahead the II Duomo, Milan’s cathedral, a prime example for Flamboyant Gothic style, and the Scala, one of the most famous and important opera houses in the world.

Tuscany– This unique, undulating landscape is full of stone towns, whose foundations go back to the Etruscans and each of which sits atop a hill. Even if there are so many of them, each has its own charm, architecture, and story to tell. The roads of Tuscany offer unforgettable views of great landscapes so that even a drive through this charming area is an experience itself.

Venice – This captivating city is composed of 118 islands, connected to one another by more than 400 bridges, but separated by its world famous canals. Most of the best sights lie around the cities landmarks, Piazza San Marco and the Grand Canal. One should not miss a day trip to Murano, home of the famous fabled glass workers, and Burano, a small fishing village with brilliantly painted houses.

Naples – Mainly known for its proximity to Mt. Vesuvius, Naples is a colossal yet boisterous and interesting metropolis located on the western coast of Italy. Due to its thousands of years old history, it is full of historical buildings, squares and churches, but also modern facilities and nightlife opportunities. The nearby ruins of ancient Pompeii one of the world’s most engrossing archaeological experiences.

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