Beja is a town full of history. It was founded Julius Caesar and named back then Pax Julia. After the barbarian invasions, it became a Visigoth city with the name of Paca. In the beginning of the 8th century, it fell into Muslim rule, renamed Beja. The town rises like a pyramid above the surrounding fields of wheat. Beja is famous for the Lettres Portugaises published in Paris in 1669.
The letters were written by a young nun named Soror Mariana Alcoforado who is said to have fallen in love with a French military officer.
Lisbon, a dazzling city stretching along Tagus river, makes an enchanting European capital. Its nucleus, an ancient fortress, is now circled by neighborhoods drenched with medieval charm. Handcrafts - from embroidery to leatherwork - are peddled right on the streets. At night, yellow electric tramcars continue to wind their way up and down the hills in the sound of traditional Fado songs. Ample opportunities exist for seeing popular celebrations, for shopping, and for enjoying the nightlife along the riverbank.
Porto (known also as the Oporto) was the residence of the royal family during the 15th-century. The city offers to the visitors: art treasures, medieval cathedrals, museums, a fine library, concert halls of a rare beauty and elegance like the Coliseu do Porto and other attractions. The most well known museums of Porto are the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Serralves Foundation. Don't miss the Barredo section, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Formerly a fishing village, Albufeira is nowadays one of the leading tourist resorts of the region, the St. Tropez of the Algarve. The architecture of the town ranges from typically Algarvian narrow streets with pale white and sometimes tiled houses to very modern tourist developments. The developments include a marina, golf courses, hotels and apartment blocks. The bustling resort also has restaurants and shops to suit most tastes from authentic Portuguese fare to Irish pubs and sports bars.
Faro is the capital of the Algarve and the starting point for visiting the region or Portugal because of its international airport which brings in thousands of visitors every summer. Once loved by the Romans and later by the Moors, Faro has many medieval monuments. The main sights include: the Cathedral (Roman-Gothic origin), Nossa Senhora da Assuncăo Convent (Renaissance), Săo Francisco Church (16-18th centuries) and the museums: Infante Dom Henrique, Regional Ethnographic, Ramalho Ortigăo.
Fátima is a world-famous pilgrimage site built to commemorate the events of 1917 when three peasant children claimed to have seen the "Virgin of the Rosary", Our Lady of Fatima. It attracts believers from all over the world, particularly on May 13 and October 13. During the pilgrimage days, in the central square, a statue of the Madonna passes through the crowd. On the far side of the esplanade rises the gigantic basilica, in neo-classical style, with a central tower 65 meters high.
Lagos is an ancient port city, its origins going back to the Carthaginians, 3 centuries before the birth of Christ. The sailors of Admiral Nelson's fleet came here very often for the beauty of the local olive-skinned women and for drinking. Nowadays, things are pretty much the same, there are few people who come to Lagos wanting to know its history; rather, the mission is to drink deeply of the pleasures of table and beach. Don't miss the magnificent rocky headland Ponta da Piedade.
Former fishing village, Cascais is a cosmopolitan suburb of Lisbon and one of the richest municipalities in Portugal. Due to the favourable weather and to the excellent beaches, Cascais become a very popular vacation spot. It is a gateway for those who wish to visit Lisbon and its environments. With more than 10 golf courses Cascais is also an important golf destination. International tennis and motorcycling events take place here each year.
A few miles from Sintra lays Cascais, Estoril is a glamorous resort with beautiful beaches along the Portuguese Riviera. It is the perfect location for some of the Portuguese Aristocracy and some of the wealthiest citizens of Lisbon for their summer residences. A former residence of Juan de Borbón, pretender to the Spanish throne during the last part of the 20th century the famous Casino of Estoril is the largest in Europe. The remains of Roman mansions dating back around 2,000 years are other sites.
Third largest Portuguese city the educational center of the country, Coimbra is also the most romantic city. It is home to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest in Europe and therefore attracts students from around the world, which gives the city a special and rare atmosphere. Another highlight in Coimbra is the Baixa, part of the city down by the river with most traditional shopping. On the way there, visit the old cathedral from the XII century, in typical portuguese romanesque style.
Once the royal town of Portugal, Sintra is a small town that looks like an illustration in a fairy tale. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its 19th century Romantic architecture, and it is a major tourist attraction. The most notable site is the Sintra National Palace a combination of Moorish, Gothic and Manuelian styles. Inside is a beautiful collection of ancient and rare tiles and murals. Other attractions are the Palácio da Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros.
The capital of Alto Alentejo, Évora, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, an architectural phenomenon blending styles from Mudejar to Manueline to Roman to rococo. Évora is a living museum with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century houses, cobblestones, labyrinthine streets, arcades, squares and Moorish-inspired arches. There are numerous palaces and convents and an aqueduct which dates to 1537. Évora will still your heart with its beauty and its charm.
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