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About country Gallery Where to stay Related articles

Portugal is a country located in Southwest Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula, having only Spain as a neighbour. As many as 1,793 km of Portugal’s coastline are washed over by the Atlantic Ocean. This land has been called the edge of the world since Roman times. It is said that it is a land that “talks” to the Atlantic.

The country is home to around 10 million people (95.9 percent of whom are Portuguese), although its native language is spoken by more than 180 million worldwide. Even though as many as 1.5 million people left the country in 1960-1972, with over 3 million living abroad to this day, one distinguishing feature of the Portuguese people is their love for their language and country. People like to joke that Italian emigrants are saved by faith, the British by their scepticism, and the Portuguese by their infinite love for Portugal.

The Portuguese are a nation of discoverers – after all, it’s the country which conquered the Atlantic. All the way up to the 15th century people thought that traveling past the equator would cause them to burn, fall off the Earth, or perish. Located in the capital city Lisbon, on the bank of River Tagus in Belém is an imposing monument to the early discoverers – a gigantic caravel. Its main focus is the famous Henry the Navigator, son of John I of Portugal. It was him, a Christian magistrate, that founded the famous school of navigation in Algarve, where he brought together the world’s best scientists of the time. At the school, they worked on cartography, and developed and invented new navigation equipment and ship structures. They also financed new journeys along Africa’s western coastline in the Atlantic Ocean. That was the beginning of many great discoveries.

Another thing that deserves the name of Portuguese gold is the famous strong and sweet Porto wine, made from grapes cultivated on the slopes of River Duoro (the Golden River).

The most pleasure Portuguese people can give is to coffee enthusiasts. Once you try the strong black coffee at a bar, you won’t forget it. You can also try pingado – coffee with a bit of milk. People like to say that if, for whatever reason, Italy were to stop brewing coffee, the Italians would go to drink it in Portugal.

The Portuguese sure like a good meal. Food here is varied and inventive. The locals often mix fish and seafood with meat and smoked ham in a single dish. The Portuguese have as many as 365 dishes made from cod alone! Porco a Alentejana is classic meat dish. Leitao assado (roast suckling pig) and cabrito (a dish made from goat's meat), are also great, although the most impressive dish is still the cataplana – seafood prepared in a special utensil.

What distinguishes Portugal from other countries are the colourful tiles used for exterior and interior decoration, as well as fado – a type of sad song that comes from Lisbon. By the way, the country’s password is faz favor, meaning “please”.

The cities of Portugal are all very different. There’s even a joke that goes “Braga prays, Lisbon celebrates, and Porto… is at work”. The country’s spectacular capital city Lisbon is sometimes called “the beautiful bay”. Porto, the country’s largest harbour; Evora, beaming with its building facades, repainted white every year; the youthful, ancient Coimbra; and the colourful Aveiro – all of these are different and unique. The charming beaches, located in Algarve, give one the opportunity to enjoy the warm waters of the Atlantic.

Another great thing about Portugal is souvenirs: the colourful Rooster of Barcelos – a symbol of truth, and also the fantastic fabrics and cork tree wares, partly responsible for the country’s popularity. The bark of a cork tree, which is resistant to moisture and heat, is also used to make handbags and even… umbrellas.

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