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Portugal

The Portuguese Republic
 

Portugal is the westernmost state of Europe. In the east and north, it borders with Spain, and its western and southern shores are washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores and Madeira Island, a birthplace of the famous Portuguese wine, are part of Portugal. The country is well recognized thanks to its port wine, country’s national heritage; bullfight and football, considered by the Portuguese as their most favourite shows; fado, a part of the Portuguese culture; olive oil, their most exported product; as well as high quality Portuguese shoes and cork.

 

Despite its small size, the country abounds in beautiful beaches, national parks with picturesque nature, unique castles and luxurious royal palaces. Many Portuguese monuments are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sights.

 

A great number of beautiful Portuguese beaches stretch 1800 km along the Atlantic coast. Algarve, a southern coastal province, is the main country’s resort and tourist destination. The Atlantic favours great weather conditions – temperature of about +30°C – so you can relax all year round. You won’t find more spacious golf courses than Algarve probably anywhere else. The Island of Madeira has got mainly small beaches. It abounds in verdure – its eucalyptus groves, craters of extinct volcanoes, lava fields, numerous mountain rivers and waterfalls make the island unique. Those to be fond of hunting and fishing, as well as golf, windsurfing and diving come here from all over the world. The Azores are located in the Atlantic Ocean. These nine islands were created by volcano eruption. This place is remarkable for its mild warm climate, amazing volcanic landscapes and lagoons with turquoise water. The northern part of Portugal is covered with the spurs of the Cantabrian Mountains, and in the centre of the country, the Serra da Estrela rise up. The picturesque bay on the Atlantic coast has been formed by the Tagus, the longest river of Portugal. You can enjoy the beauty of this bay not far from the capital.

 

A visit to a small town of Portugal to see what the country is like. Here, in a friendly atmosphere, locals chat over coffee or a drink in cosy cafes located in the narrow streets. The capital of Portugal is Lisbon. This beautiful city is full of architectural masterpieces and famous museums. Lisbon hosts world famous Formula One and, of course the bullfights. Lisbon was once considered a mercantile centre of Europe and it is from here navigator Vasco da Gama embarked on his journey around the world. Numerous  viewpoints located in the capital offer you to see a wide range of sights, including Mitra Palace, Patriarchal Cathedral of St Mary Major, Eduardo VII Park, the Tower of Belém, and St Jorge Castle. City’s bridges are impressive in their grandeur. Vasco da Gama Bridge, a 17 km long bridge, over the Tagus River is considered to be the longest in Europe.

 

For centuries, the Portuguese Kingdom had to protect its possessions from other states and pirate raids. Castles were built in the kingdom to defend its territories. Almost all of them were located on high impregnable hills, surrounded by a moat and high stone walls. Convent of Christ in Tomar, Crato Castle, Palmela Castle, Avis Castle, as well as other feudal and royal castles are worth to be visited. Some of them were turned into museums, or hotels. You are well advised to visit the Fort of São João Baptista, built on the group of volcanic craters at a height of over 200 meters.

 

Portugal is a very picturesque country. Azulejo, colourful ceramic tilework, makes the country a special one.  Many roads and buildings are decorated with various kinds of azulejos. The most famous Portuguese pavement mosaic is located in Lisbon, near the Monument to the Discoveries. Unique panels of azulejos can be noted by you on the walls of Portuguese churches and temples. Historical facts of the country and the saints have been reflected there.

 

Holidays have a special place in the life of the Portuguese. In the late summer – early autumn, Madeira Island hosts Wine Festival. This cheerful and colourful event lasts all week. Owners of wine cellars welcome their guests to sample the famous Portuguese ports, and in some villages, you can practise Madeira wine making. In February, Portugal dives into the world of traditional carnivals. At this time, children have winter holidays and the whole country turns into a huge show arena. Everywhere these days, you can meet people in colourful costumes, see enthralling sights, performances and discos. Every year in August, the city of Abiul welcomes thousands of people at the bullfight, an extreme show. If you find yourself in a summer Algarve, be sure to visit International Sand Sculpture Festival, the world's largest one.

 

The Portuguese cuisine is worth to be mentioned. Here you can enjoy the world's best Azorean pineapple and sweet bananas of Madeira. Of course, Portugal offers the most delicious port wine and a wide range of various wines. The Portuguese cuisine is unique – you won’t mistake it for any other European cuisine. It absorbed the traditions of Indian, Spanish and Oriental people. Spices, meat, fish and macaroni are in favour here. Portuguese coffee with very strong taste and aroma should be sampled by you. You’ll never forget its taste.

 

The Portuguese are well known for their hospitality. They can make you feel at home. To experience their hospitality you should go to the regions of Monsanto or Lindoso. Here you can stay at private houses and family hotels, learn ancient local ceremonies, life and traditions. Winemakers will share the secrets of winemaking, cheese-makers will open you the world of delicious cheese, and local needlewomen will teach you to weave leather and embroider.

 

Portugal is the most visited European country among tourists. Cultural and historical heritage of the country impresses with its greatness and variety. The picturesque coastline and mild climate attract a lot of tourists to Portugal.

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Administrative division — Portugal

capital of the country major cities districts autonomous regions
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Population:
10676000
Area:
92391 sq.km.
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