Discover The Most Amazing Historical Places In Portugal ♦ Portugal is everywhere. There is much to be said about Portugal, from its humble beginnings to the golden ages of maritime discoveries. In the 20th century, the ‘’April’s Revolution’’ put Portugal’s freedom in the map. At any moment the historical monuments and what defines Portugal as part of the world have been forgotten. There are more monuments than you can imagine with unparalleled beauty, and Secrets From Portugal is going to let you know everything about every single one of them.
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Pena’s National Palace
From the top of the hills of Sintra, you can see the eternally majestic Pena Palace. The palace dates back to the 16th century, and it all started with a rather small chapel. As the times pass by, transformations were inevitable due to natural causes that destroyed part of the palace. The palace has romantic and revivalist features but with Indian and Arab elements as well. The palace was the favourite residence of several generations of the royal family, most of Queen D. Amélia. With several luxurious rooms, and different from any Portuguese palace, it is possible to have access to the furniture that made up the palace and that decorates it according to several cultures around the globe.
Quinta da Regaleira
Situated in the hills of Sintra, near to the historic centre, the Quinta da Regaleira has four acres composed by a palace, magnificent gardens, caves, amongst many other mythical and enigmatic constructions. Many of the spaces are historically linked with alchemy, Freemasonry or even with the Templars. In this space, the Romantic, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline wave mixes together. This luxurious space benefits from a micro-climate present in Sintra that makes this place a mystery to those who visit. Little is known about the construction, it is known however that it went from hand to hand, belonging to the Baroness of Regaleira, one of the most illustrious owners.
Designed in 1386, with the order of King João I of Portugal, to celebrate the grand victory against the Castilians, the works finish in 1563. Considered to be part of the World Heritage by UNESCO, the Batalha Monastery gifts us Gothic art as well as the typically Portuguese Manueline style. Composed by the church, the chapels, imposing cloisters, domes and also gardens and images meticulously hand-crafted by the Portuguese people, this is undoubtedly a place of passage for lovers of history and architecture.
From the 10th century until nowadays, the famous Castle is located in the medieval city of Guimarães. It was in the 10th century that the Countess Mumadona Dias, after becoming a widow, launched herself into the construction of a monastery, having it reinforced by a fortress due to the constant attacks of the Moors and Normans. Later in the 12th century, the kings D. Henrique and D. Teresa moved to there and turned it into the county’s official residence. In 1109, D. Teresa gave birth to D. Afonso I, the first king of Portugal. The city of Guimarães and the castle are proudly nicknamed as ‘’the cradle of Portugal’’. An indispensable place on the first visit to Portugal, thus this was where it all began.
Founded in 1290 by D. Dinis and authorized by the pope Nicholas IV, this is one of the oldest but still functioning universities in the world. The university receives over 25,000 students per year, offering academic degrees in several different areas. The University of Coimbra’s architecture counts on several styles since it passed through the hands and minds of architects from all centuries ever since. The Paço das Escolas, built between the 10th and 18th centuries, features Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque, Pombaline and Neoclassical styles, while the Joanina library has a distinctive Baroque style. In addition to its buildings, it is also possible to get in touch with the student life and the famous academic costume. The costume is based on a black suit and cape that have also inspired J.K. Rowling for her ‘’Harry Potter’’ saga.
In the historic centre of the city Oporto, you will find an unusual and mystical bookstore. The Lello bookstore is also known as the Chardron bookstore, nickname of its founder. Today the bookstore belongs to the Lello family, which preserves its neogothic style, highlighting the immense staircase as well as the multicoloured stained glass windows or even the broken arches. The bookstore is a good surprise for those who visit Porto. Many come to know that was in there that J.K Rowling inspired herself for her book ‘’Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’’. J. K. Rowling lived in Porto and the Lello bookstore had not been forgotten. It is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Located right in the centre of the “Invicta” City, the Majestic coffee shop is undoubtedly a point of reference for both Portuguese and foreigners. Inaugurated in 1921, with the name of ‘’Elite’’, it was the coffee most frequented by illustrious people of the time. The coffee is full of art-deco or “Arte-Nova”, which remains until today. The Majestic receives nowadays several different forms of performative art, either inside its hall or in its small but refreshing garden. A Portuguese expresso, a poetry slam accompanied by the majestic façade and figures that complete this space it’s what we advise on the next visit to Portugal.
Sanctuary of Fátima
Known as one of the most important Marian sanctuaries in the whole world, the Fátima’s Sanctuary is located in Cova da Iria, in the city of Ourém. It is composed by a series of religious buildings dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Fátima, such as Chapel of the Apparitions, Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, and Basilica of the Holy Trinity, amongst many others. The sanctuary became a place of Christian pilgrimage and deep Catholic devotion that preserves the memory of events that marked the country’s religious tradition, including the apparition of Nossa Senhora de Fátima to the three little shepherds in 1917. The sanctuary has been awarded three papal gold roses and it is one of the greatest tourist attractions of Portugal, as well as one of the biggest Catholic hotspots in the world.
Roman Temple of Évora, or Temple of Diana
Built in the 1st century AD, better known as the Temple of Diana, it is located in the city of Évora, in Alentejo. The Alentejo known for its beautiful plains, traditions and beaches, and it has in its centre one of the biggest landmarks of the Roman presence in Portugal. Built in honour of Emperor Augustus, the temple only has ruines, being partially destroyed by the Germanic invasions in Vth century. The Temple’s association with the Diana name is due to a legend concerning to the Goddess of the Hunt.
Senhor da Pedra Chapel
Rising atop of the Miramar beach, in Vila Nova de Gaia, the Chapel of the Senhor da Pedra gazes infinitely upon the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the beach’s bedrock in 1686, it is highly believed that it was built for pagan cults, being later transformed and revamped for Christian purposes. Characterized by its baroque and rococo style, in it you’ll find several forms of religious art, having a crucified Christ statue starring the collection. Beware of the high tide though, thus, when the sea rises, it entirely surrounds the chapel, being virtually impossible to get in or out. It’s the perfect place to visit for those who love fables and mythical legends.
Belém is a historical centre located in Lisbon, in the parish of Santa Maria de Belém. Historically linked to the discoveries, it suffered various rehabilitation works by D. Manuel. Belém has incredible green spaces, museums and a lavishing waterfront area. The monuments that were built there can’t be avoided. The star of this play is the Jeronimos Monastery, built in the 16th century. It’s one of the symbols of the nation and maritime discoveries, where the Portuguese people distinguished themselves. Opulent, this is one of the favourite monuments of those who pass here. The Belém Tower, whose construction began in 1514, located right on the riverside, is one of the main monuments where the Manuelist architecture is present. First, it served to defend the Tejo river, having lost the tactical functions years later. It is a very Portuguese Tower since it includes Portugal’s coats of arms. To end the tour, you must visit the Monument to the Discoveries, near the tower and built-in 1940. This Monument is an ode to the Portuguese World and in it, it’s possible to see Portugal’s most important historical figures, such as Infante D. Henrique, the most important character in the tale of the Portuguese maritime discoveries. All the figures appear in a caravel, as the Portuguese Caravel was the way for the maritime crossing, that turned the Portuguese the great explorers of the world.
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