terça-feira, 24 de março de 2009
Portugal is situated in the extreme southwest of Europe, with a population of approx. 10 million.
It borders with Spain to the North and the East, being bathed by the Atlantic ocean on the West and South. The islands of Madeira and the Azores, located in the Atlantic Ocean, approx. 1000 kms from Lisbon, are part of the Portuguese territory.
Portugal has a wide variety of natural scenery, from the high green hills in the North to the wide gold plains in the South. The whole coast line is blessed with beautiful beaches, that change in character and spirit along the seasons of the year,with exception for the beaches of the Algarve region, with its typical mediterranean climate, always having very calm waters and glorious sunshine.
Several rivers cross the country, from East to West. Rivers Douro and Tejo are the biggest, both starting in Spain and entering the Atlantic Ocean at the country´s two biggest cities, Porto in the North
and the capital, Lisbon, in the South.
The Portuguese are known for being soft spoken,
educated and very hospitable, being by nature a people who love fun. They specially like traditional and popular festivities in honour of patron saints, which each major city and village throughout the country has and venerates. So, they enjoy singing, dancing and of course, the traditional dishes and wines, all with a typical mediterranean flavour.
Despite these characteristics, they do tend to be somewhat melancolic - and have a trait that is called "Saudade" -, which can be loosely translated as a longing for something that is lost or unattainable and which stems from the national music "FADO".
They are also crazy for football and for
bullfighting (In Portugal the bull is not killed as in Spain) and they are also extremely proud of their Ancestry and History, especially their great feats of the "Discoveries" by sea (XIV century), which , as it is said locally, they gave "New Worlds to the World", meaning their discoveries of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Much of the architectural heritage dates from the period of the Great Discoveries, in the "Manuelino Style", so named because King Manuel I reigned then.
The Portuguese wall Tiles, in which the images of the country´s history and specially the era of the great discoveries are depicted, are also of great nation pride.
Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe, dating from 1140, its foundation.
In 218, BC the Romans invaded this area now known as Portugal. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this area was once again invaded by the Barbarians and at a later stage by the Moors of Northern Africa.
The Christian reconquest started in the XI century and it was at this time, that Afonso Henriques, grandson of the king of Castela (nowadays Spain), declared independent the county of Portucale (Portugal), an area between river Minho on the north of Iberia and river Mondego to the south (City of Coimbra, now center of the country).
Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, reigned for 57 years, the longest period in the portuguese history. He was of a strong physical stature, with outstanding qualities and of a limitless energy...He conquered all the land to the south as far as Ourique, in the Alentejo region, with the greatest victory being the conquest of Lisbon (now, the capital).
His heirs up until Afonso III, continued the expansion southward to the Algarve (country´s most southern region), defining the borders that still exist up to this day.
Texto e fotos:Lu
To be continued...