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Portugal is a country located in Southwestern Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are Portuguese territory as well. The country is named after its second largest city, Porto, whose Latin name was Portus Cale. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. Portuguese is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and Northern Portugal, from the Galician-Portuguese language. Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, receiving an average of 13 million foreign tourists each year.
Cuisine Portuguese cuisine is diverse. The Portuguese consume a lot of dry cod, for which there are hundreds of recipes. There are more than enough bacalhau dishes for each day of the year. Two other popular fish recipes are grilled sardines and caldeirada, a potato-based stew that can be made from several types of fish. Typical Portuguese meat recipes, that may be made out of beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, include cozido à portuguesa, feijoada, frango de churrasco, (roast suckling pig) and carne de porco à alentejana, a very popular northern dish is the rice stewed in pigs blood or the Rice and chickens meat stewed in chickens blood.
Port Wine is Portugal's most famous, unique, and exported wine. Typical fast food dishes include the francesinha from Porto, and (grilled pork) or (grilled beef) sandwiches, which are well known around the country. Portuguese cuisine is very diverse, with different regions having their own traditional dishes. The Portuguese have a culture of good food and throughout the country there are myriad good restaurants and small typical tascas. Today the country is known by wine lovers and its wines have won several international prizes. Some of the best Portuguese wines are: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet: Port Wine, Madeira Wine and the Moscatel from Setúbal and Favaios. Port Wine is well known around the world and the most widely known wine.
Lisbon is Europe's second-oldest capital (after Athens), once home to the world's greatest explorers like Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator, becoming the first true world city, the capital of an empire spreading over all continents, from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao, China; Goa, India). JERONIMOS MONASTERY The resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama is a church built in the 1500 s as part of a magnificent monastery. Its cloisters are considered among the most beautiful in the world and has been listed as a World Heritage Site.
BELEM TOWER The city's icon is also a symbol of the Age of Discovery. Built in the early 1500 s, this ornate watchtower has been declared a World Heritage monument by UNESCO.
ST. GEORGE'S CASTLE From the millennium-old battlements of this castle you have a bird's-eye view of the city in the company of roaming peacocks. Inside is a small archaeological museum and down the hill are a couple of terraces with perfect postcard views over Alfama, the city's medieval village-like neighborhood.
CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MUSEUM Treasures from the East and the West collected by one man is now one of the world's finest private art collections. It includes works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet and René Lalique.
PARQUE DAS NACOES Contrasting with the city's oldest neighborhoods is this 21 st-century district showcasing striking contemporary architecture with Europe's longest bridge as the backdrop. It includes a state-of-the-art aquarium, a casino, and a wonderful waterfront promenade.
BERARDO MUSEUM A Portuguese millionaire has put together one of Europe's greatest modern art collections which includes works by Andy Warhol, Picasso, and Dali among others. Best of all, it's free.
Alentejo is Portugal's most memorable province to visit. It is also its largest, occupying almost one third of the country, but with the lowest percentage of population of any Portuguese region. For the most part it is a peaceful region consisting of vast wheat fields, rolling plains, castles, and whitewashed villages, all seen on the way to Evora, an ancient World Heritage city that should not be missed by any traveler to Portugal.
Evora - A museum-town; a Roman temple; prehistoric sites Monsaraz - A white town; a magical medieval atmosphere
Marvão - White walled town reaching the sky Castelo de Vide - A Jewish enclave; medieval charm Elvas - Impressive military fortifications; a monumental aqueduct Beja - A famous 17 th century love affair; a lavish old convent Mértola - Islam meets Christianity
Porto -- one of Europe's most charismatic cities. Porto is one of the last undiscovered European metropolises, but that is about to change. There are now direct flights from New York and numerous connections to and from the rest of Europe, including an increasing number of low-cost airlines. But this is not a new city. It is an ancient port steeped in history and tradition. It is a highly atmospheric place that has become known for its monuments by renowned architects.
PALACIO DA BOLSA The exuberant interior of the former Stock Exchange Palace. THE CATHEDRAL The 12 th-century fortress-cathedral where Prince Henry the Navigator was baptized. SÃO FRANCISCO CHURCH One of Europe's most extraordinarily lavish church interiors, completely covered in gold.
Madeira The semi-tropical island of Madeira has long been one of Portugal's most sought-after travel destinations. It offers a unique combination of extraordinarily beautiful scenery and excellent all year-round climate, along with some of the world's best luxury hotels such as Reid's Palace and Cliff Bay Resort Hotel. Looking down on the island's capital is MONTE, from where it is possible to take a famous toboggan ride, a kind of wicker sofa attached to wooden runners that is guided down steep lanes by a pair of drivers wearing boaters and white flannels, reaching Funchal in 20 minutes. This unique form of transport was invented by an English resident looking for a speedy way to get down to his office from his mansion, and is similar to the toboggan runs once used in the island to slide farm produce to the harbors below.
Worth visiting in Monte is the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church, the focal point of an annual pilgrimage that takes place every August 15. To the left of the church are the superb Monte Palace Gardens, laid out in 1894 with a maze of pathways, fountains, cascades, and exotic plants from different continents. Moving north from Monte is perhaps the most spectacular sight in the island, PICO DO ARIEIRO. Reaching the top of this mountain, visitors often meet the clouds as they admire a stunning landscape of volcanic rocks. A popular activity in Madeira is following the unique lavada trails, a complex network of man-made water channels that irrigate the mountain slopes, carrying water for long distances to banana groves, vineyards, and gardens. Hikers follow their routes to explore the island, reaching remote spots not accessible by road. These trails can be quite magical, especially one called Lavada do Risco that lasts for about 30 minutes, ending at a waterfall. More of nature can be appreciated at the World Heritage LAURISSILVA FOREST, a true living treasure of rare vegetation. It is part of the Madeira Natural Park, and visits must be booked in advance. North of Camara de Lobos is an idyllic spot called CURRAL DAS FREIRAS that translates to "Nuns' Refuge. " The nuns were those of Funchal's Santa Clara Convent who fled to this spot during a pirate attack. There are several festivals throughout the year in Madeira. Funchal's buildings transform themselves into a huge Nativity scene with more than 250, 000 colored lanterns for Christmas and the New Year's firework show is of international renown. Other festivals include Carnaval, the dazzling Flower Festival during the whole week after Easter, the Classical Music Weekends in June, and the Festival of Madeira Wine, celebrating the harvests in the second week of September.