Portugal is known for its football, surfing, fado music, pastel de nata, piri piri chicken, port wine and corks. This includes popular beach destinations, distinctive medieval architecture and their seafood. The country has possibly one of Europe’s longest histories and it has left them a fair share of buildings, monuments, monasteries and castles which have earned UNESCO titles. The list below is Portugal’s significant sites and monuments which are undoubtedly beautiful while others are interesting. Scroll down to see them!
Monastery of Jeronimos
Explore the Monastery of Jeronimos
This monastery was the former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome which was later secularized. It is the perfect example of Portugal’s Manueline or Late gothic architectural style. Moreover, the monastery has historical importance as it was already built around the time of the Portugals’ exploration which spanned around the globe.
Praça do Comércio
Feel the ambiance of the world’s oldest bookstore – Bertrand!
Praca do Comercio is one of Portugal’s largest city square, spanning with 175 m by 175m or 574 ft by 574 ft. It once had the main palace of Portugal – the Paço da Ribeira or the Ribeira Palace but it was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1755. It was never rebuilt and it became Praca do Comercio as it is today. The square also has the world’s oldest bookstore – Bertrand which was founded in 1732!
Oceanario de Lisboa
Watch the underwater world of Oceanario Lisboa
Considered as one of Europe’s largest and best indoor aquariums, Oceanario de Lisboa has a volume of 5,000m3 with approximately 8,000 marine animals in the aquarium. It was opened since 1998 and it is built in the exhibition grounds of Expo ’98 in Parque de Nações.
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen
Belem and Belem Tower
Climb the Belem Tower
Belem is known for its museum district, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Belem Palace where the Portuguese president resides, Belem Tower and other significant monuments. Belem Tower was Lisbon’s ceremonial gateway which also served as a landmark today. It is also where Portuguese explorers would embark and disembark of their maritime expeditions, making the tower witness such events. Belem Tower is one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders. It was a public election held for six months, selecting Portugal’s seven wonders with its results announced on July 7, 2007.
Sintra National Palace
Witness the beloved residence of Portugal’s nobility.
Also known as the Town Palace, Sintra National Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is constructed on the former site of a once important Moorish castle and King Joao reconstructed the palace. Today it is a present-day historic house museum.
Park and National Palace of Pena
Do a forest and palace exploration in Pena
The unusual combination of romanticist architecture and forested park is Pena’s distinction. The palace which was built by the Baron of Eschwege is situated on top of a hill which can be easily spotted from Lisbon. It is surrounded by 200 hectares of forested terrain which is its park. The park and palace is also one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders.
See the inner beauty of Portugal’s most beautiful library
Known for its beauty and for inspiring J.K Rowling to make the Harry Potter series, Livraria Lello is dubbed as one of the world’s most beautiful libraries. The bookstore was built by the Lello brothers Antonio and Jose in 1907 who previously owned bookstores. Its neo-gothic design, central winding wooden staircase and art nouveau exterior draws people to visit.
Photo by Ivo Rainha
One of Porto’s important and liveliest areas is Ribeira. The district is located in the riverbank of Douro, where it got its name. The word Ribeira stems from Portugeuse which means river. The quaint terraces and the waterfront view of Dom Luis I Bridge and Vila Nova da Gaia while savouring Portugal’s delicious dishes is a must-experience when in Porto!
Benagil caves and beach
Swim at the beach and marvel the Benagil caves
Possibly a one of a kind beach, Benagil and its caves, is a beach with an open-sky cave where anyone is free to swim, rent a canoe or kayak and even do a stand-up paddle board. It was formed approximately 20 million years ago when the supercontinent Pangea split up and the warm and shallow seas crept up, forming the lime stones and making Benagil caves today.
Photo by Julius Silver
Sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima
Go on a pilgrimage at the catholic Shrine of the World
The Sanctuary of our Lady of Fatima is the world’s fourth largest catholic pilgrimage site. Annual visit count of the site is approximately 4-6 million visits. Its monastery complex also has the Civil Parish of Fatima, Cova da Iria and other catholic buildings. The monastery was founded in the same place where three children saw multiple apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 1917.
Obidos and its castle
Wander around the streets of the fairy-tale like Obidos
Only an hour drive away from Lisbon, the medieval town and castle of Obidos is definitely worth a visit. Obidos background is a romantic one as it was a gift King Denis of Portugal gave to his queen after their wedding in 1282. The queen loved what the king gave her. Obidos castle is also one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders. The narrow cobblestone streets, Obidos castle – one of Portugal’s Seven Wonders, the municipal museum, St.Mary’s church, the square and medieval market are Obidos’ must-go.
Chapel of Bones
For something interesting but spooky for the list, Chapel of Bones in Evora is in. The interior of the chapel is decorated with human skulls and bones of monks, hence, its name. It is also located next to the entrance of the church of St. Francis. The chapel was hailed as one of Portugal’s best known monuments.
Which of these places have you been to? Share with us in the comments your personal favourites!
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