15 Fascinating Curiosities About Portugal

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Created: 2023-03-24 15:22
Updated: 2023-03-24 21:39
15 Fascinating Curiosities About Portugal

Unveiling Portugal's Secrets: 15 Fascinating Curiosities You Didn't Know

The history of Portugal is filled to the brim with fascinating cultural peculiarities, fascinating traditions, and distinctive customs. Portugal is a small country, yet it has a diversified population. In this article, we look into 15 fascinating aspects of Portugal that are sure to stimulate your interest and deepen your appreciation for this magnificent country. We hope that you find these tidbits both interesting and informative.

Portugal's Age of Discovery

During the Age of Discovery, which occurred between the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was an essential player. Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and Bartolomeu Dias were some of the first explorers who helped find sea routes to Asia, Africa, and South America. This made Portugal a major maritime power around the world. This time of exploration and development had a huge impact on trade, communication, and the cultural interchange that took place all over the world.

Rua Augusta Arch, in rua augusta

The Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos

The Rooster of Barcelos is a multicolored ceramic rooster that is seen as a sign of happiness and good fortune in Portugal. According to the story, a man from Galicia was found guilty of stealing, even though he hadn't done it, and was sentenced to be hanged. He demanded to be transported to the judge, who was in the middle of hosting a meal, and he pointed to a roasted rooster, asserting that it would crow to demonstrate that he was innocent. The man's life was spared when, for some inexplicable reason, a rooster crowed. Even today, the rooster is a popular choice for a Portuguese memento. It is often given as a sign of friendship or displayed in homes to keep away evil spirits.

The World's Oldest Bookstore

According to Guinness World Records, the bookstore that has the name Livraria Bertrand and is located in Lisbon is the oldest bookstore that is still in business. Since its founding in 1732, this historic literary sanctuary has been pleased to welcome readers and writers for the better part of the last three centuries. The store has grown over the years and now has multiple locations all over Portugal. However, book lovers still think that the original location in Lisbon is the most important place to go.

Portuguese Cork

Portugal is the biggest producer of cork in the world. About half of the cork in the world comes from Portugal. The cork oak tree, often known as the "sobreiro," has a significant role in both the culture and economy of Portugal. Because the legislation protects cork oaks, their bark can only be collected once every nine years. This restriction is in place to promote ecological balance. The nation is also a pioneer in the development of items that are based on cork, including cork fabric, cork flooring, and even cork fashion accessories.

Fado, the Soulful Music of Portugal

Fado is a traditional type of music that originates in Portugal. It stands out for its depressing melodies and sincere lyrical content. The style of music known as fado, which is included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is traditionally performed in low-lit bars with the accompaniment of a Portuguese guitar with 12 strings. It is stated that the music may represent the soul of the nation and generate a sensation of longing, often known as "saudade." The music has deep roots in both the history and identity of Portugal.

The Mysterious Knights Templar

During the Middle Ages, the Templar Knights were a Christian military order that did well and had a big presence in Portugal, especially in the town of Tomar. The Convent of Christ, which used to be the order's headquarters and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is well-known for its ornate and symbolic architecture, which shows how secretive the Templars were. The Order of Christ, which was the successor organization to the Knights Templar, was created in Portugal in 1319. The Order of Christ was an important contributor to the funding of Portugal's Age of Discovery during this time period.

Portuguese Azulejos

Azulejos, which are also called glazed ceramic tiles, are an important part of both the art and architecture of Portugal. They are used to decorate the outside of buildings all around the country, including churches, palaces, and private homes. Moorish influence on Portuguese culture goes all the way back to the 15th century, and since then, it has grown into a style of art that is uniquely Portuguese. Many of these colorful tiles show historical events, religious scenes, or intricate geometric patterns. They give the streets of Portugal a certain charm.

Tram 28 in Lisbon

Tram 28 is a classic yellow tram that travels through the winding alleyways of Lisbon. It is a wonderful and nostalgic way to experience the city, as the tram glides through the tight lanes. Because it travels through some of Lisbon's most scenic neighborhoods as well as some of the city's most popular tourist attractions, this historic tram line, which first opened in 1914, is a popular choice among tourists. Tram 28 provides passengers with a window into Lisbon's history, taking them on a journey through time as they admire the city's architectural treasures and enjoy the lively environment.

The Enchanting Sintra

The enchanted town of Sintra may be found in the Sintra Mountains, close to Lisbon, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sintra's enchanted palaces, beautiful gardens, and old castles have been inspiring artists, writers, and poets for hundreds of years. The Moorish Castle, the colorful Pena Palace, and the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira are some of the highlights, each with their own fascinating history and architectural allure. Because of its atmosphere that is reminiscent of a fairy tale, Sintra is considered to be one of the most fascinating places to visit in all of Portugal.

The Curious Case of Cristóvão Ferreira

During the 17th century, Cristóvão Ferreira, a Portuguese Jesuit priest, served as a missionary in Japan. After being taken prisoner and tortured by the Japanese government during a time of harsh persecution, he became known for apostasy, which is the act of leaving Christianity. The events that transpired in Ferreira's life served as the impetus for Shūsaku Endō to write the novel "Silence," which was subsequently adapted for the big screen by Martin Scorsese. Ferreira's troubled life and the fact that he gave up his faith in the end continue to make people talk and think about religious commitment and sacrifice in the modern world.

Portugal's UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are 17 sites in Portugal that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites each highlight different aspects of Portugal's diverse cultural heritage and illustrious history. The medieval centers of Porto and Évora, the breathtaking Monastery of Batalha, and the prehistoric rock art in the Côa Valley are some of the locations that fall under this category. Portugal has been a crossroads of civilizations and a melting pot of cultural influences for a long time, and these places show that. Portugal has played this role for many centuries.

The Miracle of Fátima

In 1917, three youngsters working as shepherds in the town of Fátima, Portugal, reported that they had seen the Virgin Mary appear to them on multiple occasions. These apparitions, which came to be known as the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima, culminated in a phenomena known as the "Miracle of the Sun," which was witnessed by thousands of people. In modern times, Fátima has become an important place of pilgrimage for Catholics all over the world. The Sanctuary of Fátima, which was constructed in celebration of the miraculous happenings, receives millions of people each year.

Portuguese Wine and Port

Viticulture has a long history in Portugal, extending back to Roman times, and the country is internationally famous for the variety and quality of its wines. The Douro Valley is the birthplace of the fortified wine known as port, and Portugal is most famous for its production of port. But, Portugal is also home to a diverse selection of other wine styles, including Madeira and Vinho Verde, among many others. Wine lovers will get a kick out of touring Portugal's various wine districts and experiencing the one-of-a-kind flavors and customs that each region has to offer.

Portugal's Volcanic Islands

The volcanic island groupings of the Azores and Madeira archipelagos can be found in the Atlantic Ocean. Both of these archipelagos are considered to be Portuguese territory. These islands have some absolutely breathtaking scenery, which is distinguishable by its lush forests, sheer cliffs, and charming lagoons. In particular, the Azores are well-known for the geothermal activity that can be found on the islands, which may be seen in the form of geysers and hot springs. Travelers to these remote island paradises can take part in exciting outdoor activities like whale watching, hiking, and scuba diving. They can also immerse themselves in the unique culture and beautiful natural scenery of the islands.

Portugal's Language Legacy

Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, with more than 220 million speakers spread across a number of countries. As a direct result of Portugal's exploration and imperial expansion in the past, the Portuguese language is widely spoken in many countries, such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. Also, Portuguese has had a big impact because other languages have taken words from it. This is one of the most important ways it has had an effect. Certain English words, such as "marmalade" and "banana," have their roots in the Portuguese language.


The unique curiosities of Portugal shed light on the country's long and illustrious past as well as its culture and traditions. These intriguing characteristics combine to make Portugal a captivating destination for tourists who are looking to see a nation that is both unique and alive. From its role in the Age of Discovery to the fascinating town of Sintra, Portugal is a fascinating place for many reasons. There are many things to do and see in Portugal that will leave a lasting impression on you, whether you are interested in its history, architecture, or different landscapes.

Fado music Portugal
Portuguese azulejos tiles
Tram 28 Lisbon
Sintra Portugal
Cristóvão Ferreira
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Portugal
Miracle of Fátima Portugal
Portuguese wine and port
Azores and Madeira islands
Portuguese language legacy

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