5 interesting facts about Portugal

Portugal is without a doubt an extremely beautiful and curiosity- arousing country. Although I haven’t started learning Portuguese yet, I’m continuously hunting fascinating facts about this place. I met numerous local people among whom you can find doctors, environmental engineers, bar tenders and other. Learning from them about their country consolidates my understanding of their history and allows to get a sense of Portugal’s present-day shape.

 

Below I present you with 5 intriguing facts about Portugal that for me seem to be relevantly influencing its modern face.

 

  1. Portuguese men when find themselves truly in love they act like fierce and mad lions

 

Well, maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone but the story that I heard left me dumbstruck. Imagine that Pedro I of Portugal when became a crowned head of his country in 1357, declared that a woman named Inés de Castro, his longtime lover, was his secretly married spouse. What as follows made her a lawful queen of Portugal. Additionally, knowing that Pedro’s father, Alfonso IV disliked his son’s choice and awaited his son affair to naturally extinguish. – The story may sound like Shakespearian Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending, right? Unfortunately, this not apply.

At the time when Pedro became king, Inés was dead (!!) She was brutally murdered on the order of Pedro’s father. Pedro driven by an unarticulated despair managed to capture two out of three of his lover’s killers and executed them by ripping their hearts out.

When he officially became the king of Portugal, he had Inés body disinterred from her burring place and forced the entire court to swear loyalty to their new queen. (!!) How mad is this?! Despite how much his action appears to be unimaginably nutsy, at the same time we learn that their love was unthinkably intense. This story is the one of the most tragic love stories I heard.

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Picture: Peter I of Portugal beside the exhumed remains of Inêz de Castro

 

  1. Portugal and the UK are the besties!

 

Whether you visit a continental Portugal or any of Portuguese islands what may easily strike your ear is that British people are frequent guests. This is true. In fact, some of the hotel here, in the Madeira islands and in the mainland has been built to comfort British elites specifically. What makes British people so welcome and Portuguese so hospitable toward its European friends is the fact that the two has a very good long-time bond.

Foreign relations between Portugal and the United Kingdom dates back to the Middle Ages where in 1373 the two signed the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance. Upon this treaty two parties established a pact of mutual support in the case of war. The document is still valid and prevailing. As Matthew Winsett, historian, says, this treaty has been the cornerstone of both nations relations with each other ever since.

It is also worth mentioning that its been Portugal that introduced the habit of drinking tea in British society. Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland that originally came from Portugal brought the fashion of drinking tea to the court while becoming a wife of King Charles II of England.

I wish there were more such healthy diplomatic friendships in the world as Portugal and the UK have been enjoying for so many years.

 

  1. Portuguese like to gamble!

 

Lisbon, the capital city; has the largest Casino in Europe, Casino do Estoril. I’ve never been there but as I’ll have an opportunity (I believe in a month form now) I try my chances in slot machines.

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Picture: Casino in Estoril, Portugal

  1. Lisbon is the grand grand mother among other European capitals

 

To be more precise Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in Europe after Athens. As historians account Lisbon was settled by the Phoenicians around 1200 bc, who were pioneers in overseas transportation thanks to River Tagus.

 

  1. Portugal was once a great Empire

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Map: Portuguese Empire (1415-1999); Red—factual possessions; Pink—explorations, areas of influence and claims of sovereignty; Blue—key sea explorations, routes, and areas of influence and trade.

 

Portugal, although rather a small nation state it possessed once a huge overseas Empire. During 15th and 16th centuries Portugal lost much of its economic strength with the destruction of Lisbon in 1755 earthquake, Napoleonic wars and the independence of its most resourceful colony in Brazil. Portugal during its prime time was the largest colonial empire of the Renaissance that existed for almost six centuries.

This part is extensive. As only I’ll find good book on this period in the library I’ll dig for more from this period.

 

 

 

 

 

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