Posted by: Author | January 9, 2013

Portugal’s Major Cities

The Major Cities in Portugal

The Capital Lisbon Lisbon today is no longer the provincial town it was in the 1970s. Lisbon today has blossomed into a cosmopolitan city often beset with construction pains. Many of its old structures are simply falling apart and must be either restored or replaced. Some of the formerly clogged streets of the Baixa have been turned into cobblestone pedestrian malls.In its golden age, Lisbon gained a reputation as the eighth wonder of the world. Travellers returning from the city boasted that its riches rivaled those of Venice. As one of the greatest maritime centres in history, the Portuguese capital imported exotic wares from the far-flung corners of its empire.
The city centre of Lisbon, Portugal.
For a rooftop view of Lisbon, take the Santa Justa elevator on Rua de Santa Justa. The elevator goes from Rua Aurea, in the centre of the shopping district near Rossio Square, to the panoramic viewing platform. It operates daily.
The flag of Portugal. The overview map of Portugal.
Many visitors use Lisbon as a base for exploring nearby sites, but they often neglect the cultural gems tucked away in the Portuguese capital. One reason Lisbon gets overlooked is that visitors don’t budget enough time for it. You need almost a week to do justice to the city and its environs. In addition, even Lisbon’s principal attractions remain relatively unknown, a blessing for travellers tired of fighting their way to overrun sights elsewhere in Europe.
The city centre of Lisbon, Portugal.
Porto Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city and its capital of port wine. The 15th-century residence of the royal family, and a bastion of trade and mercantilism, the city is rich in the legacy of the past-art treasures, medieval cathedrals, famous museums, a fine library, and other attractions. Many old homes trace their beginnings to fortunes made in Portugal’s overseas colonies.
The city, which is undergoing a major renovation and sprucing up, has never looked better. Some of its alleyways – especially those around the old port – look as if they haven’t changed since the Middle Ages. Porto’s labyrinth of streets, with their decorative azulejos (tiles) and wrought-iron balconies, often filled with potted flowers, is reason enough to visit the city.
Porto, Portugal. This picture was taken in 1988.
The Douro, which comes from Rio do Ouro, has always been Porto’s lifeblood. The city perches on a rocky gorge that the Douro cut out of a great stone mass.
Many visitors write off Porto as an industrial city with some spectacular bridges, but there’s much to enjoy here. As the provincial capital and university seat, Porto has its own artistic treasures.
Overall, however, Porto and the coast to its north and south are among the most rewarding places to visit in Portugal.
Amadora Amadora is a city and a municipality in Portugal, in the northwest of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. The city is the most densely populated municipality of Portugal. It forms a conurbation with the Portuguese capital Lisbon, and both cities share the same subway, bus and train network. It is essential a residential city, and the landscape is dominated by large apartment blocks, commercial parks and industrial areas.Despite being essentially a residential city, Amadora has commercial zones, industries and headquarters of international companies operating in Portugal.The arches in Amadora represent the famous Free Waters Aqueduct, which brings water from Sintra hills to Lisbon, stretching some 30 km through these three municipalities. It was finished in the 1770s and includes the largest masonry only arch ever built, located in Campolide – local coat of arms also displays the aqueduct.
Braga Nearly everywhere you look in Braga there’s a church, a palace, a garden, or a fountain. Known to the Romans as Bracara Augusta, the town has resounded to the footsteps of other conquerors, including the Suevi, the Visigoths, and the Moors.For centuries it has been an archiepiscopal seat and pilgrimage site. The Visigoths are said to have renounced their heresies here. Although aware of its rich history, the capital of Minho is very much a city of today. Its historic core and cathedral lie at the center, but the periphery bustles with commerce and industry, including a lot of manufacturing: brick making, soap making, textiles, smelting, engineering, and leather goods.Politically, Braga is Portugal’s most conservative city. In 1926, a coup here paved the way for Salazar to begin his long dictatorship.Braga is a hot place at night, primarily because of its young people. In fact, its lively streets have earned it a reputation for being “Lisbon in miniature.” Braga is also a religious capital. It stages the country’s most impressive observances of Semana Santa (The Holy Week).
Setúbal On the right bank of the Sado River lies one of Portugal’s largest and oldest cities, said to have been founded by Noah’s grandson.Setúbal, the center of Portugal’s sardine industry, is known for the local production of the most exquisite muscatel wine in the world. Orange groves, orchards, vineyards, and outstanding beaches such as the popular Praia da Figuerinha all lie near Setúbal. The white pyramidal mounds dotting the landscape are deposits of sea salt drying in the sun, another major commercial asset of this seaside community.The playground of Setúbal is the Peninsula of Tróia, site of some excellent white-sand beaches. Parts of the lonely, rocky stretches of land between Lisbon and Setúbal have undergone massive upgrades, making way for some of Europe’s best golf courses to emerge.Tróia is a long, sandy peninsula a cross the Sado River estuary. It’s accessible by ferry from Setúbal. The pine-studded strip of land is the site of one of Portugal’s la gest tourist enterprises: the Tróia Tourist Complex.Additionally, the beaches are some of the best south of Lisbon, and the waters are unpolluted.

Cetóbriga, on the peninsula, contains ruins of a thriving Roman port. Excavations began in the mid–19th century. The city, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries, was destroyed by the ocean, but traces of villas, bathing pools, a fresco-decorated temple, and a place for salt preservation of fish have been unearthed.

Cetóbriga’s ruins are about 2.5 km from the site of the present tourist development of Tróia.

Coimbra Coimbra, known as Portugal’s most romantic city, lies on the weather-washed right bank of the muddy river Mondego and is also the educational center of the country. Coimbra’s charms and mysteries unfold as you walk up Rua Ferreira Borges, under the Gothic Arco de Almedina with its coat of arms.One of Europe’s great Roman archaeological finds, Conimbriga is 16 km southwest of Coimbra. The site of a Celtic settlement established in the Iron Age, the village was occupied by the Romans in the late 1st century A.D. From then until the 5th century, the town knew a peaceful life. The site lay near a Roman camp but never served as a military outpost, though it was on a Roman road connecting Lisbon and Braga.This city of medieval churches is also filled with youthful energy. Noisy cafeterias, raucous bars, and such events as crew races lend a certain joie de vivre to the cityscape. Coimbra is at its best when the university is in session.


Agualva-Cacém is mostly a residential suburb of Lisbon.It comprises the parishes of Agualva, Cacém, Mira-Sintra and São Marcos. Although the official designation is “Agualva-Cacém”, it is commonly referred to as “Cacém”. So there has no much information on this suburb.
Queluz Queluz, only 20 minutes (15 km NW) from Lisbon, makes a great excursion from the capital or en route to Sintra. The Queluz Palace in its pink rococo glory, offers storybook Portuguese charm.
Funchal The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is the focal point of the island and the gateway to its outlying villages. Today this southern coastal city of hillside villas and narrow winding streets is the island’s most luxuriant area, filled with fertile fields, hundreds of flowering gardens, and numerous exotic estates.
Vila Nova de Gaia Vila Nova de Gaia is a suburb of Porto across the Douro from Porto’s commercial centre. This mostly residential district has far fewer monuments and attractions than Porto.Every year, port wine is brought from vineyards along either side of the Douro River to lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia where it’s aged, blended, and processed. In the past it was transported on flat-bottomed boats.The actual portwine lodges (Taylor’s, Porto Sandeman, Ferreira, Caves Porto Cálem, and Caves Ramos Pinto) lie across the river from Porto at Vila Nova de Gaia. Like the sherry makers at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, these places are hospitable and run tours for visitors.
Porto, Portugal. This picture was taken in 1988.
Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite side of the Douro River, is a less interesting after dark than Porto. But if you happen to be here, or if you’re interested in an evening stroll across one of Porto’s bridges for a panoramic view of Porto’s old harbor.
Aveiro Aveiro is not a major city in Portual but worth to write some words about it (56 km North of Coimbra, 68 km South of Porto).Myriad canals spanned by low-arched bridges crisscross Aveiro. At the mouth of the Vouga River, it’s cut off from the sea by a long sandbar that protects clusters of islets. The architecture is almost Flemish, a good foil for a setting of low willow-reed flat-lands, salt marshes, spray-misted dunes, and rice paddies.On the lagoon, brightly painted swan-necked boats traverse the waters. Called barcos moliceiros, the flat-bottomed vessels carry fishers who harvest seaweed used for fer-tilizer. They’re ever on the lookout for eels, a regional specialty, which they catch in the shoals studded with lotus and water lilies. Outside the town are extensive salt pits, lined with fog-white pyramids of drying salt.In the Rota da Luz area near Aveiro, you can go windsurfing in many places, including Ria de Aveiro and Pateira de Fermentelos. The long stretches of sand and the formation of waves also provide ideal conditions for surfing; particularly good Rota da Luz beachesare Esmoriz, Cortegaça, Furadouro, Torreira, São Jacinto, Barra, Costa Nova and Vagueira. The whole stretch of the Ria estuary is ideal for waterskiing, and many rivers, notably the Pateira and the Ria, are suited for canoeing and rowing.
Aveiro, the lagoon and channel city. This picture was taken in 1988.
The core of the city’s nightlife is the Canal de São Roque, near the Mercado de Peixe in the town center. Here you’ll find a trio of 18th-century stone salt warehouses. They’ve been transformed into attractive, richly folkloric bars that draw loyal local patrons.

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