It is quite possible that every country has its own national version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Portugal is no exception to that rule. In this Portuguese adaptation, Romeo was Pedro, the heir apparent to the Portuguese throne, and Juliet was Inês, one of the ladies-in-waiting to Pedro’s wife, Princess Constança. Their tragic love story is a key episode in Portuguese history. Tourists spending vacations in Portugal can see with their own eyes where this took place as their love nest still stands today in the outskirts of Coimbra.
This tragic tale took place in the 14th century, unfolding ...continue reading
It’s not news that some of the best materials in the world come from nature. What if we told you there’s a natural material, which is used in multiple industries and is both light and resistant, waterproof, environmentally-friendly and cheap? What if we also told you this material comes largely from Portugal?
When traveling in Portugal, visitors are bound to notice the omnipresence of cork. This is no wonder since ...continue reading
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
Many centuries ago in the small town of Barcelos, Portugal, valuable silver was stolen from a rich landowner. There were no suspects so the rich man accused a Galician pilgrim who was passing through town on his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (known as “Caminho de Santiago”). The pilgrim was brought in front of a judge who quickly sentenced him to death by hanging. Before the execution, the man asked to be brought one last time in front of the judge. When they got him to the judge’s house, he was having a banquet with some friends, and the pilgrim pledged his innocence one last time saying something like “it is as certain that I’m innocent as it is certain that the roast rooster you’re eating will crow three times before they hang me”. Still not moved, the judged did ...continue reading
Portugal’s history has always been in one way or another associated with design. Portuguese designed maps to several regions of the world; they designed the special ships (“caravelas”) and some key nautical navigation equipment (e.g. nonius) used during the Portuguese Discoveries. Later, throughout its Discoveries period, Portuguese continued to adapt and evolve the design of many products brought from the new found regions (e.g filigree, China Porcelain).
When you plan your trip to Portugal, you may want to consider visiting cities and neighborhoods where you can ...continue reading