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Portugal Travel & Tourism Guide

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Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic is a country on the Iberian Peninsula. Located in southwestern Europe, Portugal is the westernmost country of mainland Europe and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are also part of Portugal.

The land within the borders of today's Portuguese Republic has been continuously settled since prehistoric times. Some of the earliest civilizations include Lusitanians and Celtic societies. Incorporation into the Roman Republic dominions took place in the 2nd century BC. The region was ruled and colonized by Germanic peoples, such as the Suebi and the Visigoths, from the 5th to the 8th century. From this era, some vestiges of the Alans were also found. The Muslim Moors arrived in the early 8th century and conquered the Christian Germanic kingdoms, eventually occupying most of the Iberian Peninsula. In the early 1100s, during the Christian Reconquista, Portugal appeared as a kingdom independent of its neighbour, the Kingdom of León and Galicia. In a little over a century, in 1249, Portugal would establish almost its entire modern-day borders by conquering territory from the Moors.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, with a global empire that included possessions in Africa, Asia, and South America, Portugal was one of the world's major economic, political, and cultural powers. In the 17th century, the Portuguese Restoration War between Portugal and Spain ended the sixty year period of the Iberian Union (1580–1640). The 1755 Lisbon earthquake and, in the 19th century, armed conflicts with French and Spanish invading forces and the loss of its largest territorial possession abroad, Brazil, disrupted political stability and potential economic growth. After the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution coup d'état in 1974, the ruling regime was deposed in Lisbon and the country handed over its last overseas provinces in Africa. Portugal's last overseas territory, Macau, was handed over to China in 1999.

Portugal is a developed country, and has a high Human Development Index. It is the 7th most peaceful and the 13th most globalized country in the world, and has the world's 19th highest quality of life, although having the lowest GDP per capita of Western European countries. It is a member of the European Union and the United Nations since 1955; as well as a founding member of the Latin Union, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (Community of Portuguese Language Countries, CPLP), and the European Union's Eurozone. Portugal is also a Schengen state.

Portugal Attractions

Lisbon (Lisbon Hotels & Lisbon Resort Reservation Service)

Lisbon (Lisboa), the country's capital, stands breezily on the banks of the Rio Tejo. The city's low skyline, unpretentious atmosphere and pleasant blend of architectural styles conspire to make it a favourite with many visitors. Orientation is fairly straightforward - apart from the puff required to negotiate the hills - with most of the daily activity centred in the lower part of the city.

A clear choice for Lisbon's finest attraction is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Construction began about 1502 and was completed towards the end of the century. It survived a great earthquake in 1755, and is today the principal remnant of Manueline architecture found in the city. Nearby is the Torre de Belém, a Manueline-style tower which stands in the Rio Tejo, and is probably the most photographed monument in Portugal.

Lisbon has a number of attractive museums, including the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which contains superb displays of decorative tiles; the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, which houses the national collection of works by Portuguese painters; and the immense Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, considered the finest museum in Portugal, with exhibits of paintings, sculptures, carpets, coins and ceramics from around the world.

Other places of interest are the districts of Baixa and Alfama. Here you'll find some of the city's oldest and most rewarding sights: anarchic cobbled streets, squares and alleys; markets and craftspeople; and colourful buildings and brooding castles.

Lisbon has a wide range of budget accommodation and cheap eateries, mostly found in the central parts of the city. Lisbon's nightlife is boisterous, and includes drinking in bars, raving at discos, bopping to jazz and African rhythms or puzzling over fado. Local soccer matches and bullfights are the biggest daylit thrills.

Sintra (Sintra Hotels & Sintra Resort Reservation Service)

The town of Sintra lies immediately north-west of Lisbon and was long favoured by Portuguese royalty and English nobility (Lord Byron was mad about it) as a summer destination. Its appeal is still evident today, with its thickly wooded setting, romantic gardens and ramshackle glamour. Dominating the town are a number of palaces and ruins, including the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, an interesting amalgam of Manueline and Gothic architecture, and the Palácio Nacional da Pena. Just outside the town are the rambling Monserrate Gardens, while further out is the Convento dos Capuchos, a tiny 16th-century hermitage enclosed in forest, with cells hewn from rock and lined with cork.

Evora (Evora Hotels & Evora Resort Reservation Service)

The walled town of Évora is one of the architectural gems of Portugal. Situated in Alto Alentejo in a landscape of olive groves, vineyards, wheat fields and brilliant spring flowers, it's a charming town with one-way backstreets so narrow that car wing mirrors have the potential to be lethal.

The focal point is the Praça do Giraldo, and its attractions include the Sé (cathedral), which has a museum of ecclesiastical treasures; the picturesque Templo Romano; and the Igreja de São Francisco, which contains a ghoulish ossuary chapel constructed with the bones and skulls of several thousand people.

Lagos (Lagos Hotels & Lagos Resort Reservation Service)

Lagos, on the south coast of the Faro, is one of the country's most popular tourist resorts. Most visitors are drawn to the superb beaches, which include Meia Praia, a vast strip of sand to the east, and the more secluded Praia do Pinhão to the south. The town has abundant facilities for renting bicycles, mopeds and horses, and there are also boat trips from the main harbour. Apart from the sun and sand, the resort's other highlight is the Museu Municipal, which has eccentric displays of ecclesiastical treasures, handicrafts and preserved animal fetuses.

Portugal Hotels
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Portugal History, Portugal Government & Politics, Foreign Relations & Armed Forces, Law & Criminal Justice of Portugal, Portugal Geography, Portugal Administrative Divisions, Demographics of Portugal, Portugal Religion, Languages in Portugal, Economy of Portugal, Communications in Portugal, Energy in Portugal, Portugal Tourism, Portugal Science & Technology, Education in Portugal, Healthcare in Portugal, Portugal Transport, Culture in Portugal, Portugal Cuisine & Wine, Sport in Portugal

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Travel Quotes:

People who dont travel cannot have a global view, all they see is whats in front of them. Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live. Martin Yan

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are. Samuel Johnson


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