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Gil Paes was the governor (“alcaide-mor”) of Torres Novas in the 14th century and is one of the most iconic historical figures in Portugal. He’s an example of extreme loyalty to his kingdom.

In 1372 the King of Castile invaded the Kingdom of Portugal. His army conquered many villages as it advanced into Portuguese territory. This invasion apparently happened with little opposition from the Portuguese army and many villages were surrendering very easily to avoid many casualties. When the Castilian army got to Torres Novas in 1373, it got a different experience.

Highly loyal to King Ferdinand, Gil Paes resisted the invasion and did not give away control of the castle. The Castilian King surrounded the castle and amidst some of the battles ended up capturing Gil Paes’ 18 years old son. He then warned Gil Paes that he’d kill his son if he didn’t surrender the castle and neighboring region. What followed was an example of ...continue reading

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For such a small country, Portugal has a pretty long résumé and history. As such there may be some controversy about where the country was actually started. Most nevertheless agree that Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal.

You see… Portugal was occupied multiple times by different people, including: Celts, Romans, Suevi, Visigoths, and Muslim Moors. With this, the borders of what constituted Portugal changed many times over the last two millennia.

Guimarães is referred to as the “cradle of Portugal”: because it is associated with several key ...continue reading

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Last week Portugal, like most of the western world, celebrated St. Valentine’s day. Many travelers chose this time of the year for a romantic getaway. Porto and Lisbon were two of the top destinations for this.

This is easy to understand. With centuries of rich history, charming old quarters peppered with modern art and architecture, friendly people, rich food, and unavoidable wines, Porto is one of the hottest destinations in Europe. So much so that last week it won the award for “Best European Destination for 2014” by the “European Consumers Choice”.

Lisbon doesn't fall short of romantic either. With its seven hills, facing the Tagus, and centuries old alleyways bathed by a natural light that makes you believe you’re in a movie set, Lisbon has an honorary seat in the list of most romantic cities in the World. Like the Daily Mail once described it “even smiling middle-aged couples stroll along its leafy avenues and sun-bleached plazas as if out on a first date.”

Why is this relevant? ...continue reading