Posted by: Author | January 9, 2013

Portugal Overview

Mainland Overview

Centuries ago, Portugal was a pioneer of worldwide exploration.

Until recently, however, it was never as successful in attracting visitors to its own shores. Outside of greater Lisbon, the Algarve, and the island of Madeira, Portugal remained unknown and undiscovered by the mainstream visitor for many decades. Today’s travellers are beginning to realize that Portugal was unjustly overlooked. It offers sandy beaches, art treasures, flavorful cuisine, a unique form of architecture, charming handcrafts, a mild climate, moderate hotel rates, and polite and friendly people. Only two million annual visitors came to Portugal in the late 1970s. The number swelled to 20 million in the mid-1990s, and an explosion of hotel and resort building has kept pace. Portugal today attracts some 22 million visitors, perhaps more. Despite its small size 225 km wide and 612 km long, Portugal is one of the most rewarding travel destinations in Europe. Exploring its towns, cities, villages, and countryside will likely take longer than expected because there is so much richness and variety along the way. The people, whose warmth is legendary, inhabit a majestic land of extraordinary variety. You’ll see almond trees in the African-looking Algarve; cork forests and fields of golden wheat in Alentejo; ranches in Ribatejo; narrow, winding streets in the Alfama in Lisbon; oxdrawn carts crossing the plains of Minho; and vineyards in the Douro. Azaleas, rhododendrons, and canna grow for kilometres on end; the sound of fado music drifts out of small cafes; windmills clack in the Atlantic breezes; sardine boats bob in the bays; and gleaming whitewashed houses glisten in the sun. The sea is never far away. The following list is an embarkation point for the discoveries, like those by the mariners of old, that you’ll eventually make on your own.

Portugal – The Facts On History

The Romans Arrived Starting in 210 B.C., the Romans colonized most of Iberia. They met great resistance from the Celtiberian people of the interior. The Lusitanian (ancient Portugal was known as Lusitania) leader, Viriatus, looms large in Portuguese history as a freedom fighter who held up the Roman advance; he died about 139 B.C. The Romans were ultimately unstoppable, however, and by the time of Julius Caesar, Portugal had been integrated into the Roman Empire. The Roman colonies included Olisipo (now Lisbon). Christianity arrived in Portugal near the end of the 1st century A.D. By the 3rd century, bishoprics had been established at Lisbon, Braga, and elsewhere. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, invaders crossed the Pyrenees into Spain in 409 and eventually made their way to Portugal. The Visigothic Empire dominated the peninsula for some 2 centuries.
The Moors Arrived In 711, a force of Moors arrived in Iberia and quickly advanced to Portugal. They erected settlements in the south. The Christian Reconquest – known as the Reconquista – to seize the land from Moorish control is believed to have begun in 718.In the 11th century, Ferdinand the Great, king of León and Castile, took much of northern Portugal from the Moors. Before his death in 1065, Ferdinand set about reorganizing his western territories into Portucale. Portuguese, a Romance language, evolved mainly from a dialect spoken when Portugal was a province of the Spanish kingdom of León and Castile. The language developed separately from other Romance dialects.
Portugal was Born Ferdinand handed over Portugal to his illegitimate daughter, Teresa. At that time, the Moors still held the land south of the Tagus. Unknowingly, the king of Spain had launched a course of events that was to lead to Portugal’s development into a distinct nation. Teresa was firmly bound in marriage to Henry, a count of Burgundy. Henry accepted his father-in-law’s gift of Portugal as his wife’s dowry, but upon the king’s death, he coveted Spanish territory as well. His death cut short his dreams of expansion. Following Henry’s death, Teresa ruled Portugal; she cast a disdainful eye on and an interfering nose into her legitimate sister’s kingdom in Spain. Teresa lost no time mourning Henry and took a Galician count, Fernão Peres, as her lover. Teresa’s refusal to conceal her affair with Peres and stay out of everyone else’s affairs led to open strife with León. Teresa’s son, Afonso Henríques, was incensed by his mother’s actions. Their armies met at São Mamede in 1128. Teresa lost, and she and her lover were banished. Afonso Henríques went on to become Portugal’s founding father. In 1143, he was proclaimed its first king, and official recognition eventually came from the Vatican in 1178. Once his enemies in Spain were temporarily quieted, Afonso turned his eye toward the Moorish territory in the south of Portugal. Supported by crusaders from the north, the Portuguese conquered Santarém and Lisbon in 1147. Afonso died in 1185. His son and heir, Sancho I, continued his father’s work of consolidating the new nation. Successive generations waged war against the Moors until Afonso III, who ruled from 1248 to 1279, wrested the Algarve from Moorish control. The country’s capital moved from Coimbra to Lisbon. After Portugal became independent in the 11th century, its borders expanded southward to the sea. The Moors left a permanent impression on Portugal. The language called Mozarabic, spoken by Christians living as Moorish subjects, was integrated into the Portuguese dialect. The basic language of today, both oral and written, was later solidified and perfected in Lisbon and Coimbra.Castile did not recognize Portugal’s borders until the reign of Pedro Dinis (1279–1325). Known as the Poet King or the Farmer King (because of his interest in agriculture), he founded a university in Lisbon in about 1290; it later moved to Coimbra. Dinis married Isabella, a princess of Aragon who was later canonized. Isabella was especially interested in the poor. Legend has it that she was once smuggling bread out of the palace to feed them when her husband spotted her and asked what she was concealing. When she showed him, the bread miraculously turned into roses. Their son, Afonso IV, is remembered today for ordering the murder of his son Pedro’s mistress. During Pedro’s reign (1357–67), an influential representative body called the Cortes (an assembly of clergy, nobility, and commoners) began to gain ascendancy. The majority of the clergy, greedy for power, fought the sovereign’s reform measures, which worked to ally the people more strongly with the crown. During the reign of Pedro’s son, Ferdinand I (1367–73), Castilian forces invaded Portugal, Lisbon was besieged, and the dynasty faced demise. In 1383, rather than submit to Spanish rule, the Portuguese people chose the illegitimate son of Pedro as regent. That established the house of Avis. João de Avis (reigned 1383–1433) secured Portuguese independence by defeating Castilian forces at Aljubarrota in 1385. His union with Philippa of Lancaster, the grand-daughter of Edward III of England, produced a son who oversaw the emergence of Portugal as an empire – Prince Henry the Navigator.
Santa Maria reconstruction - Harbour, Maderia, Funchal.
The Maritime Empire Henry’s demand for geographical accuracy and his hunger for the East’s legendary gold, ivory, slaves, and spices drove him to exploration. To promote Christianity, he joined the fabled Christian kingdom of Prester John to drive the Muslims out of North Africa. To develop navigational and cartographic techniques, Henry established a community of scholars at Sagres, on the south coast of Portugal. He was responsible for the discovery of Madeira, the Azores, Cape Verde, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, and he provided the blueprint for continued exploration during the rest of the century. In 1482, Portuguese ships explored the mouth of the Congo, and in 1488, Bartholomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope. In 1497, Vasco da Gama reached Calicut (Kozhikode), on India’s west coast, clearing the way for trade in spices, porcelain, silk, ivory, and slaves.The Treaty of Tordesillas, negotiated by João II in 1494, ensured Portugal’s possession of Brazil. Using the wealth of the whole empire, Manuel I (the Fortunate; reigned 1495–1521) inspired great monuments of art and architecture whose style now bears his name. His reign inspired Portugal’s Golden Age. By 1521, the country had begun to tap into Brazil’s natural resources and had broken Venice’s spicetrade monopoly. As the first of the great maritime world empires, Portugal dominated access to the Indian Ocean. João III (reigned 1521–57) ushered in the Jesuits and the Inquisition. His son, Sebastião, disappeared in battle in Morocco in 1578, leaving Portugal without an heir. Philip II of Spain claimed the Portuguese throne and began 60 years of Spanish domination. In the East, Dutch and English traders undermined Portugal’s strength.
The Portuguese
After the revolution, Portugal drifted into near anarchy. Finally, after several years of turmoil and the failures of 16 provisional governments from 1976 to 1983, a revised constitution came into force in the 1980s. In 1976, Portugal loosened its grasp on its once-extensive territorial possessions. The Azores and Madeira gained partial autonomy, and Macau (which reverted to Chinese control in 1999) received broad autonomy. All the Portuguese territories in Africa – Angola, Portuguese Guinea, Mozambique, and São Tome and Prîncipe – became independent countries. Portugal also released the colony of East Timor, which Indonesia immediately seized.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s