Portugal is a small country in the southwest of Europe. It has borders with Spain and France, and it’s just thirty minutes from the Atlantic Ocean by plane. Portugal is among the oldest countries in Western civilization: they were one of the first to explore Africa, America, Japan and Australia.
They’ve had an important influence on other European nations during periods when China was closed off to foreigners. But what really makes Portugal so special? The Portuguese people are fiercely proud of their culture and traditions! Let’s find out more about this awesome country!
Portugal is a beautiful country that is known for great food, culture, and diversity that many people don’t know about. There are plenty of reasons to check out Lisbon or Porto when travelling around Europe.
This is Portugal’s capital and largest city with about 550,000 people living in the greater metropolitan area! The old part of downtown Lisbon is called “Baixa” or “lower town,” which has lots of shops and restaurants to enjoy as well as nice views of the Tagus River.
BONUS! Lisbon is famous for its custard tarts, which are called pastel de nata . This treat has been around since the 18th century and it’s now one of the most popular desserts in Portugal! The best place to get these tasty treats is at a local pastry shop. You really can’t go wrong with any kind of pastry in Portugal due to the way they make them, but these custard tarts are especially delicious.
Portugal’s famous exports include cork, wine and oranges. Cork is a product of Portugal that has been regarded as essential to civilization as we know it today.
The Roman Empire used it for trading purposes because the strong outer layer was watertight so it made perfect amphorae containers for transporting wine. Portugal was the first country to start mass producing cork so they were able to corner the market on it. They are now one of the world’s biggest producers of cork!
3. Port Wine
Portuguese wines are some of the most popular in the world. It’s actually their third best selling export! Many different grape varieties are used to make all kinds of wines that come from Portugal, but one of the most well-known is “Port” which comes from Porto (a city on the north coast).
Port Wine which is named after Oporto, where it was first created. When this fortified wine is stored in oak barrels, the wood tannins help soften it. This unique taste helped it become popular all around the world!
The orange was actually only introduced to Europe in the 15th century when Portugal used trading routes to bring in goods from Asia and Africa. They were able to get their hands on sweet oranges from China. If you like orange and ever go to Portugal, just try oranges from Algarve.
The most traditional Portuguese dish is cozido à portuguesa, which is a boiled dinner that includes beef, pork and chicken! This dish can be found all around the country and in Portugal’s former colonies such as Brazil and Macau!
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal is home to the best soccer player in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo! He’s one of Real Madrid’s forwards.
The Portugal National Soccer Team has also won Euro 2016, meaning they’ve won it more than any other nation so far! To top it off, Ronaldo received a knighthood from the president of Portugal because he brought home the Euro Cup.
The Portuguese are also known for their sad songs called fados. They’re kind of like blues songs, but without the drums!
The songs have a very unique singing style that can be identified by its “sad” sound. Most singers are women because the genre was initially created by female street singers.
8. Vasco da Gama
After exploring Africa, America, Japan and Australia (it’s believed he reached Australia before the Dutch did), Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama became the first to sail directly from Europe to India.
He was able to bring back valuable spices like pepper which were in high demand at the time, so he was able to help Portugal establish a trade route to India.
9. Street Art
Street art is everywhere in Portugal! There are artists who have turned old buildings into amazing pieces of artwork. The most famous example of this is the Gulliver Sete Obras (Gulliver’s Seven Journeys) art installation which is on the side of a building in Porto.
This artwork was created by Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra and it’s made up of seven different panels that show how Gulliver travels to Brazil, Africa, India, Japan, China and America.
10. The Algarve
This area of Portugal is known as the “Surf Capital” of Europe because it’s home to many beaches and great waves for surfing. It also has incredible cliffs such as those in Sagres Point where you can see what the coast would have looked like hundreds of years ago!
This is a volcanic island that was really important for Portugal during the 15th century, because it’s where they mined their first minerals! It was during this time that the Portuguese built a fort on top of a hill to protect the mines from pirates. The fort is still standing today and you can climb up it for some awesome views.
12. Pena National Palace
This palace complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was built in the 19th century. It’s a mix of Gothic, Manueline and Moorish styles, which reflects many of Portugal’s past influences!
The Pena Palace is located in Sintra so if you go there you can also visit the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) which is an ancient rock castle found in the Sintra Mountains.
13. The Castle of Évora
Portugal’s oldest recorded town, Évora has been around since 300 BC when it was founded by a Celtic tribe. As a result, the city has a huge historical centre with lots of old homes and buildings! It’s also known for the aqueduct that was built to bring water into the city.
This is a fishing town near Lisbon, but it has become much more than just a place where people catch fish! Nowadays, it’s well-known as an upscale resort area with beautiful beaches and lots of great places to eat fresh fish!
Portuguese is one of the most language spoken in the world. It’s spoken by about 250 million people who are mainly located in Portugal, Brazil and Mozambique!
The language is more commonly known as “Portuguese” because it comes from Lusitania (a Roman province) which was named after the Lusitanians, who were a group of Celtic tribes near where Portugal is today.
16. Sugar Cane
Did you know that Portugal was the first place in Europe where sugar cane was introduced? This makes sense considering how close it is to Africa where there are lots of islands where sugar cane comes from!
The main area in which Portuguese people grew cane was around the Algarve, where they were able to produce large amounts of sugar.
Portugal is home to some of the world’s most beautiful golf courses. One of these courses is the Penha Longa Golf Resort which has hosted many prestigious events over the years, including the Portuguese Open.
The resort also includes a golf academy, spa and 5-star hotel, so it’s perfect for anyone who loves golfing on some of Europe’s finest courses.
18. Portuguese Bakery
Portugal is famous for their delicious pastries and breads, especially in the area around Lisbon!
There are many restaurants called “Pastelerias” where you can go to get a wide variety of tasty baked goods. One of these treats is pasteis de nata which is a type of custard tart that is especially popular in Portugal and Brazil.
19. Cod Fish
This is a type of white fish that has been popular in Portugal for centuries. Since the fishing industry is still a major part of Portuguese culture, cod fish can be found in many dishes and restaurants around the country!
Cod is one of Portugal’s most important exports because it was caught off their coastlines and sent to other European countries.
Azulejos are tiles that have been used as decorations everywhere in Portugal. They were first developed as a cheap flooring option, but then became popular as part of the country’s architecture and design.
There are lots of museums where you can see some really old azulejos, so it’s definitely worth going there if you want to see some of their history!
*Wrap It Up
Portugal is a country that is fiercely proud of its culture and traditions. It has been around since 300 BC when it was founded by a Celtic tribe, which makes it one of the oldest recorded towns in Europe! Portugal’s language, Portuguese, comes from Lusitania (a Roman province). One example of how this ancient culture remains alive today can be seen with their azulejos tiles. These are used for decoration everywhere in Portugal but they were first developed as cheap flooring options.
If you love to travel or golf on some of Europe’s finest courses then make sure to add Portugal to your list! Another option is to visit one of Portugal’s many historic castles. They’re sure to take you back in time!
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