History & Culture

Portuguese History

The name Portugal derives from the Roman place name Portus Cale. Cale was the name of an early settlement located at the mouth of the Douro River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean in the north of what is now Portugal. Over the centuries Portus Cale became Portucale which in turn evolved into Portugale during the 7th and 8th centuries, and by the 9th century, that term was used extensively to refer to the region between the rivers Douro and Minho, the Minho flowing along what would become the northern border between Portugal and Spain. By the 11th and 12th century, Portugale was already referred to as Portugal.

The history of Portugal dates back to the Early Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it ascended to the status of a world power during Europe's "Age of Discovery" as it built up a vast empire, including possessions in South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Over the following two centuries, Portugal kept most of its colonies, but gradually lost much of its wealth and status as the Dutch, English, and French took an increasing share of the spice and slave trades by surrounding or conquering the widely-scattered Portuguese trading posts and territories.

In 1910, there was a revolution that deposed the monarchy, then a military coup in 1926 installed a dictatorship that remained until another coup in 1974. The new government instituted sweeping democratic reforms and granted independence to all of Portugal's African colonies in 1975. Portugal is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). It entered the European Community (now the European Union) in 1986.

Portuguese Architecture

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake destroyed many buildings in Lisbon. Joseph I of Portugal and his Prime Minister Sebastião de Melo, Marquis of Pombal hired architects and engineers to rebuild the damaged portions of Lisbon, including the Pombaline Downtown.
The Pombaline style can now be found all over Portugal with its secular, utilitarian architecture marked by pragmatism. It follows the Plain style of the military engineers, with regular, rational arrangements, mixed with Rococo details and a Neo-classical approach to structure.

Portugal’s longstanding traditions have kept Portuguese architecture clean of capricious imitations. Portugal has an architecture that carefully evolved within the local tradition through a balanced process of absorbing universal influences, until slowly emerging onto the centre stage of the architecture world. One of the top architecture schools in the world is located in Portugal, known as "Escola do Porto" or School of Porto.

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Portuguese Holidays 2015

  • Thursday 1st January 2015 - New Year's Day
  • Tuesday 17th February - Carnaval!
  • Friday 3rd April - Good Friday
  • Sunday 5th April - Easter Monday
  • Saturday 25th April - Liberation Day
  • Friday 1st May - Labour Day
  • Wednesday 10th June - Portugal Day
  • Saturday 13th June - Feast of St Anthony - Lisbon only
  • Wednesday 24th June - São João - this unofficial holiday is observed in the north of the country, but not everywhere in the south.
  • Saturday 15th August - Assumption
  • Tuesday 18th August - ALBUFEIRA Municipal holiday.
  • Tuesday 8th December - Immaculate Conception
  • Friday 25th December - Christmas Day

Portuguese Music

The music of Portugal includes many different styles, as a result of its history. These can be broadly divided into classical music, traditional/folk music and popular music and all of them have produced internationally successful acts. The most famous of these genres is the traditional/folk music called fado which has had a significant impact, with Amália Rodrigues still the most recognisable Portuguese name in music, and with more recent acts, like Dulce Pontes and Mariza. Regional folk music remains popular too, having been updated and modernised in many cases, especially in the northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes. Some more recent successful fado/folk-inspired acts include Madredeus and Deolinda, the later being part of a folk revival that has led to a newfound interest in this type of music.

Sport in Portugal

Football is the most popular sport in Portugal. Other than football, many other professional or semi-professional have well organised sport competitions which take place every season, such as, swimming, athletics, tennis, gymnastics, futsal, rink hockey, team handball, volleyball, surfing, canoeing and rugby union championships.

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