Portugal, that other land of Discoverers!

So, therefore, in my continuing saga of bringing back my old posts on some beautiful countries/cities, today I bring you Portugal. Especially ,Lisbon and Porto.

Another link to the family starting when young used to play football/soccer for a team of Portuguese immigrants and got to know many of them. Later in life, a couple became good friends and they are the godparents of my oldest boy, they are from Faro in the south of Portugal. Eventually, I got  to visit the country, several times even crossing from France and Spain. It is a wonderful country to visit, still I think unknown to many. Let me tell you my story and a bit of history from other sources other than mine.

First, let me tell you about my old posts in my blog on Portugal. You can see plenty of info there on many things and photos. These posts are:

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6700

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/9020

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/10636

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/15475

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/21294

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/3425

And the work begins now:
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic is located in the southeast of Europe ,in the territory of the Iberian Peninsula and islands of the Atlantic North. It has borders to the North and East with Spain, and South and West with the Atlantic ocean on the continental side and the autonomous regions of Açores and Madeira in the Atlantic ocean. The first time the name of Portugal is known was around the years 930-950 and not used frequently than by the end of the 10C. Part of the Roman empire and later Germanic tribes and eventually in the 8C by the moors of Northern Africa. The Reconquest of the country began and it was created into a Portuguese county established in the 11C by Vímara Peres,a subject under the King of Asturias (present day Spain); later the county came to passed under the kingdom of Leon (Spain) in 1097 and finally after the Treaty of São Mamede. The establishement of the kingdom of Portugal was done in 1139 and recognized in 1143. By 1297 the frontiers were defined in the Treaty of Alcanizes . Later, the Portugal of the conquests took their influence to far away places like África, Ásia, Oceânia, and South America. Been the most expansive, powerful and lasting over 600 years of the European empires from the conquest of Ceuta in 1415 to the transfer of Macau to China in 1999.

By maintaining an alliance with England , Portugal was invaded by the armies of Napoleon I three times first in 1807. The royal family needed to take exile in Brazil and putting the capital in Rio de Janeiro until 1821. When king João VI,since 1816 king of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves return to Lisbon to swear in the first constitution, the following year his son Pedro IV known in Brazil as Pedro I is proclaimed emperor of Brazil. With the revolution of 1910, the monarchy ended during which 34 monarchs ruled from 1139 to 1910. The first Portuguese republic was very shaky with too much politics, and this gave way to the military dictatorship of May 26 1926, by 1933 there was a dictator under a new state led by Gen Salazar that ruled until April 1974. The representative democracy was established as per the Cravos revolution on that year 1974; that ,also ended the Portuguese colonial wars given independence to Angola and Mozambique in Africa. Now , Portugal is a member of the United Nations, European Union, space Schengen, NATO, OCDE, and the community of countries of the Portuguese language or CPLP.

The principal administrative regions of the country which numbered 18 districts and the two autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira making Portugal in the top 20 most visited countries in the world with an average of 13M visitors per year. The last figures tells in general the most visitors comes from Great Britain, Spain, Germany, France, and Brazil. The main tourist areas are Lisbon, Algarve and Madeira with big promotions to bring more to Valley of the Douro river, island of Porto Santo, and Alentejo regions.

The country tourist webpage is here in English.  https://www.visitportugal.com/en

As I take you to the two most important cities that I have been as well now.

Lisbon the origins of the name are unknown as well as the natives of the city are locally known as alfacinhas, also, of unknown origin. By 1385 Lisbon replaces Coimbra as the capital of the country. Lisbon was almost completely destroyed due to the earthquake of November 1st 1755 ; it was later rebuilt from the ground up following the plans of the Marquês de Pombal (Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo),War and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Here, I have been by air and car to Lisbon. The public transports are good lead by Comboios de Portugal (CP),for the trains and the airport of Lisboa (Portela) Humberto Delgado , hub of the national airline TAP Portugal and about 7 kms from the city ; a wonderful metro system with direct access to the airport and tramways, inner city trains to the outlying areas. There are two bridges which I have taken by car as did rode to Porto and around Lisbon once there. Two bridges link Lisbon to the Tejo river the bridge or Ponte 25 de Abril that links LIsbon to Almada, opened in 1966 with the name of Ponte Salazar and later change due to the Cravos revolution mentioned above, the wonderful bridge or Ponte Vasco da Gama, with 17.2 km long ;the longest in Europe and fifth longest in the world links the western zone with Sacavém and Montijo. This bridge opened in 1998 during Expo 98, commemorating 500 years of the arrival of Vasco da Gama to India. There is also a great port of Lisbon with good cruising activity.

The train network is very good with 9 lines of metro and 5 suburban trains lines for 117 stations total managed by the Metropolitano de Lisboa, and the train network by Caminhos-de-Ferro Portugueses with principal stations of Oriente, Rossio, Cais do Sodré, Entrecampos , and Santa Apolónia. There are wonderful quaint tramways in the city center managed by Carris, and the must to try the various elevators or lifts to bring you up to the upper and lower city such as elevador da Bica, elevador da Glória, elevador do Lavra, and elevador de Santa Justa. These elevators or lifts are also managed by Carris. The main bus terminal is the Terminal Rodoviário de Lisboa.

Tramways here:  http://www.carris.pt/en/home/

Metro/Subway/tube here:  http://www.metrolisboa.pt/eng/

Trains:  https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/pt

Buses :  https://www.rodoviariadelisboa.pt/#tab0

As far as roads, well this is my domain, the area is criss cross with several highways going north south especillay and beltway roads such as CRIL, Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa and CREL,Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa, or A9. The main north south are A1 taken all the time going north to Porto by Vila Franca de Xira, A8 going north by Loures), A5 going west until Cascais, A2 going south by Almada, and the A12 going east by Montijo. Only drawback for most but not for me as speaks Portuguese is the webpage for the expressways is only in Portuguese here:  http://www.estradas.pt/index

However, on the tolls on them, that they have it in English : http://www.portugaltolls.com/en/web/portal-de-portagens/home

What is there to see in Lisbon, well plenty indeed. The museums are many and interestings , of course ,not been to all of them but the main ones such as Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, ancient arts and the most important collection in the country; Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, 6K objects of arts from various periods ; Museu do Chiado, a must to visit the Chiado museum with Portuguese arts from the 19C ; Museu Nacional dos Coches (national carriage museum), a must to visit, biggest collection in the world ; Oceanário de Lisboa, or aquarium nice for the family, impressive collection of living species ;and the military museum or Museu Militar de Lisboa, permanent collection of weapons from different periods. Then there are others just mentioned by Portuguese name here: Museu Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva; Museu Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro; Museu do Design e da Moda; Museu de Artes Decorativas; Museu Nacional de Arqueologia; Museu Nacional do Traje; Museu do Oriente; Museu Nacional do Azulejo; Museu da Farmácia; Museu de Marinha; Museu da Água; Museu da Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa; Casa-Museu de Fernando Pessoa; Fundação José Saramago.

You stroll thru the wonderful quaint old cobblestones districts for Lisbon such as the Baixa Pombalina and Chiado ,the heart of the city. Built on the ruins of the 1755 earthquake ; walk by the lovely square (my favorite áreas come to eat here always) Praça dos Restauradores and the elevator or lift of Santa Justa,built end of 19C ; at the end of the walk from the previous square you come to the Praça do Comércio, aka as Rossio, or Praça Dom Pedro V, Chiado, or convent or Convento do Carmo at Praça dos Restauradores.

Lisbon

Alfama ,another of the typical districts of LIsbon. It has architecture from the medieval and Arabic times with very narrow streets that maybe allow it to survive the 1755 earthquake. You will find here many houses of the popular music Fado with live entertainment. Also, see the wonderful castle or Castelo de São Jorge, on the highest hill in the city; the Catedral of Sé de Lisboa, or the national pantheon Panteão Nacional and the fairs or Feira da Ladra and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. In the Bairro Alto district another typical área in the city center above the Baixa Pombalina you have one of the most nightly entertainment areas of Lisbon.

In the quays along the Tejo river you will find the area of Belém, there is since the discoveries of the conquerors of Portugal. Here you have two Unesco heritage sites such as the monastery or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,ordered built by King Manuel I in 1501 and the best example of the Manuelino architectural style ; also, the stone monument of the discoverers or Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The Belem palace or Palácio de Belém,is the official residence of the President of the Republic; you have the national carriages museum or Museu Nacional dos Coches,also the electricity museum or Museu da Electricidade, the Church or Igreja da Memória and the cultural center of Belem or Centro Cultural de Belém.

There is ,also to see the aqueduct of live waters (sp) or Aqueduto das Águas Livres (18C) in Alcântara. In the zone of Estrela you have two wonderful parks and the oldest in the city such as the Jardim da Estrela, already more than 100 years old inspired by Hyde Park, London. The Basílica da Estrela, in the barroque neo classic style and the huge Nations park or Parque das Nações the most modern área of Lisbon, where you find the towers or Torre São Rafael,and Torre São Gabriel, both 110 meters high, the highest in all the country. The best attractions here, however are the aquarium or Oceanário de Lisboa, Atlantic pavillion or Pavilhão Atlântico, the Pavilhão de Portugal, tower or Torre Vasco da Gama, bridge or Ponte Vasco da Gama , and the train station or Gare do Oriente. By the end of the 19C the city planners extended the city beyond Baixa or lower city to the current liberation avenue or Avenida da Liberdade; near where I always stayed. In 1934, was built the square or Praça do Marquês de Pombal at the extreme north of the avenue in memory of the planner of the city after the big earthquake of 1755. By the 20C more new urbanization was done such as the university or Universidade de Lisboa (Cidade Universitária), in the area of Olivais.

The tourist office of Lisbon is here:  http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/en/visit/the-city

Let’s go quickly to another grand city, that of Porto. This is the city that gave the name to the country of Portugal since around 200 AD, when it was called Portus Cale, later forming the capital of the county or Condado Portucalense, where Portugal was created.

Some of the things to see here are in my opinión, the tower or Torre dos Clérigos, Fundação de Serralves, an contemporary arts museum . In the very touristic district of Foz by many the prettiest in the city where you can see the Atlantic ocean along a gorgeous marine view. I have been to the wonderful market or Mercado do Bolhão,an architecture symbol of traditional commerce ; the Couvento do Bom Pastor,located in Paranhos, where the fame arrived by sister or Irmã Maria do Divino Coração, countess of Droste zu Vischering, that became famous for convincing Pope Leon XIII to consecrate the human of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; later she was declared venerable and beautified in November 1,1975 by Pope Paul VI. This convent has two chapels for prayers and a museum of relics of the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Bom Pastor.

Here, I have come by airplane and car. The wonderful international airport of Francisco Sá Carneiro (OPO),one of the best in Portugal. The local transport is handle by the firm Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP) of the metro/Subway/tuve of Porto, that today has 68 stations with 8 kms of underground network, considered the best network of public transport in Portugal. There is ,also, the quaint cable car or Funicular dos Guindais, managed by the Metro do Porto, covering the área of Batalha to Avenida Gustavo Eiffel, via Ribeira. The city has a railroad network managed by the firm CP=lines of Aveiro, Braga, Guimarães ,and Penafiel or Caíde.

Transports site: http://www.stcp.pt/en/travel/

metro of Porto: https://www.metrodoporto.pt/

trains in Porto: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en

The road here is very good with the expressway A20 with various exits to the city with a beltway to go to northern cities and to the Atlantic coast. Porto is link to Valencia Spain by the expressway A28, to Estarreja by the A29, and Lisbon by the A1, Bragança by the A4 , Braga by the A3. There is an internal beltway road that links all the towns around Porto ,and to other roads such as the A7, A11, A42, A43, and A44. There is a relatively new road the A32, linking the metro área to São João da Madeira, and Oliveira de Azeméis. Along the Douro river, there is the bridge or Ponte das Barcas built in 1806 that later was replaced by a permanent bridge the Ponte Maria II in 1843; and again replaced by the Ponte Luis I in 1886, the oldest bridge in the city of Porto. There is the bridge or Ponte Maria Pia built between January 1876 and November 1877 done by the company of Gustave Eiffel, the first railroad bridge to link the two banks of the Douro river. This was replaced by the Ponte de Sao Joao in 1991. The bridge or Ponte da Arràbida has the biggest arch in the world in mortar cement and is done on a section of the A1 that reaches Lisbon to Porto ;Yes!!! Even after building the Ponte do Freixo, this bridge of Arràbida continues to be the main connection between Porto and the south of the Douro river. There are two bridges linking the city of Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia,these are the Ponte do Freixo and Ponte de Infante. This later bridge has replaced the superior road of the Ponte Dom Luís, to be used as the yellow(amarelo) line going from Hospital de São João/Santo Ovídio of the metro of Porto, reaching from the neighborhood of das Fontainhas in Porto to Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Porto

Of course, here Porto fortified wine is king, and plenty of choices. More here from my blog: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/12/10/the-wines-of-portugal-and-the-best-porto/

The tourist office of Porto:  http://www.portoenorte.pt/en/what-to-do/

There you have it, wonderful Portugal. Hope it helps plan your trip there. A destination to be reckoned with and a possible retirement home for me ::) Enjoy your week; Cheers!!

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