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Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal
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PORTUGAL TRAVEL GUIDE

Featured Lisbon Self-Catering/Vacation Rentals  /  Lisbon Hotels
Portugal Travel Guide:

The 10 best golf courses in Portugal
Alentejo Region is 'Portugal's Best Kept Secret'
Destination Portugal
Dolphin Magic (Azores)
Golf Holidays Algarve: Great Golfing Experience and Much More
Hidden Wonders Of Portugal's Sunshine Coast
Holiday: A Guide to the Azores
Holidays - Lisbon, an Introduction
Lisbon and Portugal - History and Culture
The tourist islands of Madeira
Why Holiday In The Algarve? 6 Reasons To Visit Portugal's South Coast

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Lisbon and Portugal - History and Culture   by Robert Carlton

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Portugal has always been known as the land to the left of Spain on the Iberian Peninsula, caught among its traditional way of life - fishing and agriculture. But thanks to the technology and the integration, Portugal´s 91.985 km2, of which 88.944 km2 correspond to the mainland territory and the rest to the beautiful islands of the Azores and Madeira. The country is divided into 11 regions, with 18 districts headed by a Governor and these districts each have their own Town hall and Mayor.
 
Discovery Monument Padrao Dos Descobrimentos, Belem, Lisbon, Portugal
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Since Early Times

At the beginning, Portugal was not differentiated from the northern part of Spain called Galicia because it was a homogeneous cultural unit. The first boundary stone was initiated in the Neolithic period when the Castrena Culture began with fortified huts in a circular pattern topped with cone shaped straw roofs. While in the fertile southern plains the Tartarians, Greeks and Phoenicians started rich colonies, in the rough and granate like north of Portugal, the Lusitanians presented their resistance. 

The Roman conquest put an end to this domain and for the first time in history, the Portuguese territory was separated from the Galician. Braga was named the first capital of the Swabian kings who reigned in Portugal from 408 to 585. Later the Visigods, who had been established in Spain expanded their land into Portugal. But as all the Iberian Peninsula, the Arabs extended their powerful arm and in 711 also reach the south. But for unknown reasons, the Arabs left Portugal, only leaving behind their culture and architecture.

But Henry of Borgona, who was Earl of Portugal and the father-in-law of King Alfonso VI of Castilla had his own plans for Portugal and it was his son, Alfonso Henry, after a decisive battle in Guimaraes was proclaimed King of Portugal in 1128. From here, his successors extended the territory up until in the XIII the Portuguese territory was completed.

In 1415, King Joao I wanted to conquer more lands and started a campaign into the African territories. This impulse also sent Portuguese naval ships to occupy Madeira in 1418 and the Azores in 1427. But they did not stop there, as we all know they reached the Brazilian coast too.

Leaving Portugal without any heirs, Philip II of Spain, who was born from the daughter of the king of Portugal, was proclaimed King in 1580. But in 1640 with the Treaty of Lisbon, Spain gave it its independence.

Coming up to more modern times, Portugal joined the Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and the United Nations in 1955. After having gone through many types of political parties, Portugal nowadays is a stable country open to the world.

A Quick over view of Portugal

Portugal has a seducing enchantment and anyone who surrenders to it will never regret it. The best way to see Portugal is to do it by car and very slowly. By car because it is the most comfortable way to stop and see all the spellbinding scenery that this amazing place has to offer. It is known as the country with 101 castle and we would like to see quite a few. Slowly, because the road ways, not main highways, are very sinuous.

Lisbon capital and heart of Portugal
 
I would recommend starting out from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and its surrounding towns. Lisbon is a city which makes you feel that time has never gone by, not only because of its architecture but thanks to the people themselves and for not being in a hurry. You can begin at the center in the Plaza do Comercio, set right on the River Tajo and either head down towards the water and along the port promenade or into the hub of the city to visit the numerous churches, monuments and living history unfolding before your eyes.

Once you have visited the city, I would head for the surrounding towns only a few hours to the south in the region called El Algarve. There are incredible fishing towns and beautiful sandy beaches. Once you have relax for a day or two, it would interesting to venture into the countryside and take direction setting north to the Alentejo region. 

Tower of Belem at Sunset, Lisbon, Portugal
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The main city in this region is called Evora.

The oldest monument in the town dates back to the II or III c. and it is the temple of Diana - A real architectural beauty. There is a Pousada, reconverted castles and palaces made into historical lodgings which are all over the Portuguese geography. Still heading north but towards the Atlantic we come across One of the most symbolic Catholic cities in the world, Fatima. 

Whether you are a believer or not, everyone has a favor or burning desire to help someone with problems and the profound religious ambience found here is very special. An from the religious to the intellect when we feast our sight on the very old university city of Coimbra. Just visiting the university grounds is a trip in itself. Still going up the coast, we come to the River Duero and the city of Porto or sometimes called Oporto. This area together with the Mino River valley make up the fertile vineyards for the famous Oporto wine. Other than enjoying the green vegetation which are the green grapes that make up this delicious wine, we can sip a few samples of the different varieties and see the process at some wine cellars.

Portuguese Cuisine

Lick your lips and dig in. Let´s see, I will try some Alentejana soup which are morsel of bread with coriander herbs, garlic and poached egg. Or maybe Cacao soup made from fresh fish. If it is chilly, I would like to try a typical meat dish called Pork a la Alentejana which is pork seasoned with wine, coriandro herb, onions and crushed almonds. Rabbit, hare or partridge with white beans can also warm your heart and stomach. Spread some creamy sheep cheese on some toasted bread or some hard, cured cheese from Evora with a touch of olive oil. Cod fish done in a hundred different ways, especially with tomatoes, onions, garlic and boiled potatoes which are all national products. To accompany all this scrumptious food we need the right wine. And flaky almond pasties to finish it all off.

Let yourself be overwhelmed by Portugal´s picturesque details, shades of green, enticing bodies of water, tiled murals, white washed houses and the warm feeling that the Portuguese offer to all passesrby. The result is a total success, living up to your every dream.

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About the Author: Robert Carlton runs a marketing company and lives with his spanish wife and daughter on the iberian peninsula. He writes travel related articles about Lisbon and Portugal. You can reach him via his website http://www.lisbon-and-portugal.com

FEATURED LISBON SELF-CATERING/VACATION RENTAL APARTMENTS/CONDOS & VILLAS

Apartment in the historic center Chiado (Ref: 28265), Self catering apartment in Lisbon Center, Portugal
Apartment historic center Noble area in Lisbon - Chiado.  Chiado Studio is located at the most noble area of the center of Lisbon: Chiado Luís de Camões square.    Chiado is the live center of the city. The place where everything happens, surrounded with all city tourist targets. The best restaurants, museums, nice stores, historical center as well as very close to many means of transportation (50 meters to subway).  There is a parking less than 20 m away, with 24H security. The Studio is located in a building which is an old palace from the 17th Century, all rebuilt in a way to keep untouched the ancient structure (old wood floor, old ceiling,..) although the materials used inside the apartment are modern.  The brand-new apartment, very charming, is a Studio of 50m2 and includes 1 bathroom, one kitchenette, a living room with an extra bed for 2 and a bedroom. Tv, cd reader, dvd, heater..
Expo Prime (Ref: 53293) Self catering apartment in Lisbon
With the Oriente apartment, you enter the new era of Lisbon. In a surrounding of futuristic buildings, here is the Parque das Nações ! The apartment is a modern, fully equipped three bedroom apartment located in a brand new building. The area is very lively with Casino Lisboa, the Vasco da Gama Shopping mall and many other activities along the river like the Oceanarium. To go to the historical part of the city, use the metro or bus network for a quicker ride. The Oriente apartment is located in the very centre of the Expo area at a walking distance of the Oriente metro station (100m) and all facilities. On the 10th floor of a recent building, it has three bedrooms to allow accomodation for up to 6 persons in a very convivial mode over 160m².  Sleeps 7.
Lisbon Center Apartment (Ref: 35205), Self catering apartment in Lisbon Center | Marques de Pombal, Portugal
Centennial building with typical draws architectural inhabitant of lisbon, the apartment locates in the 2nd floor (without elevator!), it was remodeled recently with a modern design and of very good taste, constituted by 7 wide floored airy and with a lot of natural light. Located in an area it calms to scarce meters of Marques de Pombal, well in the heart of Lisbon. The apartment comprises 4 bedrooms in total; 2 double, 1 twin, 1 single. . This gives room for up to 7 people. Bed linen and towels are provided for your use.
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