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Portugal Travel Guide
Portugal is somewhat isolated from its neighbors but has a rich, unique culture in lively cities and beautiful countryside. The country has outstanding landscapes that made the country a valued destination for tourists. The country has been recently names as the “Best Golf Destination” with the myriad golf courses, particularly in the Algarve region. Portugal is one of the warmest European countries, making it a sun holiday hoptspot in Europe.
The language of the people who live in Portugal is Portuguese and as well as the name of the nationals in the country. Portuguese youth have a basic grasp of English because it is taught in school.
Where to Go?
Lisbon – It is one of Europe’s most soulful, captivating and picturesque capitals, built on a series of hills with scenic vistas from every angle. The city of the oceans, the only European capital with sunsets on the sea, so close to sandy beaches and with one of the world’s largest state-of-the-art aquariums. It is also a lively but serene and melancholic place with an insatiable appetite for long dinners, coffee breaks and nightlife. The place has World Heritage monuments and singular museum treasures, from international design and contemporary art, to treasures from when the East met West, to the ancient art of tile painting and gilding.
Sintra – It is popular for centuries now because of its mystical hills with its fairytale palaces and amazing villas.The National Palace is situated in its main square, dating from the 14th century. Its two large conical chimneys are the town’s most known landmarks, while the rest of the building is a combination of the Moorish, Gothic and Manueline styles. What you can see inside is what is said to be the most extensive collection of Mudejar Azulejos (colored glazed tiles) in the world, and several exceptional rooms.
The Sala dos Brasões (“Coat-of-Arms Room”) – it stands out for its domed ceiling decorated with stags holding the coats of arms of 74 Portuguese noble families and for its walls lined with 18th-century tiled panels. The former banquet hall, Sala dos Cisnes (“Room of the Swans”), also has a magnificent ceiling, divided into octagonal panels decorated with swans painted in the 17th century. Other highlights include the “Magpie Room” (named for the birds that decorate the ceiling), the Royal Chapter of King John I, the huge kitchen with a capacity for 1000 diners and the interior courtyards where poet Camões read his verses to the king.
Surrounding the palace is the mystical Pena Park, filled with a variety of trees and exotic plants from the former colonies of the Portuguese empire, ponds, fountains, and black swans. There is also a charming lodge hidden among the trees that can be visited. At the highest point is a statue of King Ferdinand looking towards his palace, and a viewpoint called “Cruz Alta” overlooking Pena Palace and surroundings.
Evora – The city is surrounded with prehistoric monuments and a Roman temple.
Temple of Diana. Dating from the 2nd century, it is one of the Iberian Peninsula’s best preserved Roman monuments, raised on a 3m(10ft)-high stone platform, with 14 of the original 18 granite Corinthian columns still standing. The whitewashed houses, arches, and twisting alleyways that characterize the town reflect the Moorish presence.
Praça do Giraldo, is the best place to start a visit. It was an execution ground during the Inquisition, but is now filled with shops and cafés, and surrounded by attractive townhouses with wrought-iron balconies. A fountain erected in 1571 in front of the Renaissance Santo Antão Church dominates one end of this spacious square.
The Gothic cloister with statues of the Evangelists and the Sacred Art Museum are worth seeing. Its most precious item is a 13th century ivory Virgin whose body opens out to reveal intricately carved scenes of her life in nine episodes. Visitors can also climb up to the roof for a view over the town.
What to Eat?
Fish – The most popular fish dish is salted cod, bacalhau, which it is said can be cooked in 365 different ways. Other popular fish include sardines, especially grilled (sardinhas assadas), sea bass, octopus, squid (often stuffed), anchovies and swordfish. Shellfish such as mussels, prawns, oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams are also very popular.
Meat – One of the most famous meats in Portugal is pork, which can be cooked in a variety of ways. Roast suckling pig (leitão assado) is a speciality of Central Portugal. Another popular pork dish is the carne de porco à Alentajana, which consists of pork marinated in wine and garnished with clams.
A common meat dish is the cozido à Portuguesa, a sort of hotpot of beef, sausages, potatoes, vegetables and rice. Grilled skewers of beef with garlic (espetada) are often served, as is aromatic grilled chicken (frango grelhado), seasoned with piri piri, garlic and olive oil. Feijoada, a meat stew with kidney or butter beans, is a dish popular throughout Portugal.