12 curiosities of Portugal that you did not know

Each country has its particularities and when you get to know them you understand more about their identity. We invite you to discover the curiosities of Portugal that make it a unique country.

Sometimes they are things that can be seen with the naked eye, but other times they have a story behind them, you just have to pay attention and find them on a walk, a trip or a getaway. Shall we start?

Portugal: “Portus-Galliae” or “Portus-Cale”

The history of the country goes back thousands of yearsso you can see the influences of the Phoenician civilization and the Roman Empire that gave it the name we know today.

The beauty of Portugal is in its landscapes, its culture and its people, but there is more: stories and facts that you did not know and that can help you explain some things about this beautiful place. Here are some of the most prominent:

Conquests and possessions

The province or county of Portugal was part of the Kingdom of Asturias, Galicia and León. Only in 1139 was the Kingdom of Portugal born and its first king was Alfonso I.

The territory also had Arab occupation of almost 400 years in which Muslim culture settled especially in Lisbon, called by the Moors al-Ushbuna. The famous portuguese tiles They are heritage of those times.

One country, three capitals

The first capital of the Kingdom of Portugal was Coimbraalthough in 1255 the court moved to Lisbon, which from then on was the “official capital”, since there is no document that officially designates it as such.

Even more incredible is that Rio de Janeiro It was the capital of the country from 1807 to 1821when the entire Portuguese court moved to Brazil, headed by Queen Maria I and Prince Regent John VI.

The Portuguese: great adventurers of the sea

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese ships sailed and traded all over the world, especially after Ferdinand Magellan made the first circumambulation of the Earth and that Vasco da Gama discovered the route to India. Two Portuguese sailors who changed the world forever.

dofive o’clock tea either cha give five?

Without the Portuguese, this famous phrase of the English would probably not exist. Portugal established its colony in Macao, southeast of China, around the year 1500 and from there it set up an extensive network of overseas trade that brought traditional Asian products such as tea (chain Portuguese) and porcelain.

Therefore, in the Portuguese courts afternoon tea in elegant porcelain cups was already a refined custom and when in 1662, Catherine of Bragança married Charles II of England, she took her with her.

The tea ceremony became popular among the aristocracy and later, throughout the English people, becoming one of the traditions that most identifies the British people.


One of the most striking curiosities is that Portugal was the first European country to receive slaves. Nevertheless, it was also the first colonial country to abolish slavery in 1761.

One of the longest dictatorships in the world

Although it seems so far away, in the last century, Portugal had a de facto government from 1926 to 1974, with two dictators in power: Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (1926 – 1968) and Marcelo Caetano, overthrown on April 25, 1974 by the popular manifestation of the Carnation Revolution or in Portuguese, the Revolution of Cravos.

Lisbon, an ancient and powerful city

Lisbon is one of the oldest capital cities in Europe, it is even 4 centuries older than Rome. It was the center of a powerful empire that expanded its conquest across all continents.

Two legendary bookstores

In the Chiado district of Lisbon is the Bertrand Bookstore, which was declared in 2016 by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. It was founded in 1732 and since 1773 it has been operating in the Rua Garrett 73. Today it has branches, a publishing house and an online store.

But there is more, in Scadinhas of São Cristóvão 18in Lisbon, there is the Simao Bookstore, the smallest in the world with just 4 square meters and more than 2000 books to sell.

The melancholy of the fados

Fado is a popular song born in the neighborhoods of Lisbon in the mid-nineteenth century. Fado melodies are used to express feelings of nostalgia, melancholy and frustration, in a song accompanied by a Portuguese guitar.

«Fado is neither happy nor sad […] He formed the Portuguese soul when it did not exist and wanted everything without having the strength to want it […] Fado is the fatigue of the strong soul, Portugal’s look of contempt at the God he believed in and who also abandoned him». Fernando Pesoa. Portuguese writer.

Gastronomic curiosities of Portugal

The relationship with the Far East was so close that many Portuguese customs were transferred there, such as the frying of fish, a cooking technique adopted in Japan that we know today as tempura.

The Portuguese invented cakes from Belemthey created the delicious port wine and the spicy piri piri sauce that became popular in the African colonies, to later spread throughout the world.

Second longest bridge in Europe

Until 2018, when the 19-kilometre Crimean Bridge was inaugurated, the record was held by Portugal with the Vasco da Gama Bridge over the Tagus River. The structure was inaugurated in 1998 and is 17.2 kilometers long and has a maximum height of 420 meters.

The highest waves in the world

Nazaré is one of the most sought after places by surfers from all over the world for its huge waves. Here, thanks to a seafloor phenomenon called Nazare CanyonThey have registered waves with heights greater than 20 meters, specially in North Beach.

Sports professionals such as the Hawaiian Garrett McNamara, the Brazilians Carlos Burle, Maya Gabeira and Rodrigo Koxa, have faced the waves of Nazaré, although the record is held by Portuguese surfer Hugo Vauwho surfed a giant wave of 35 meters in 2018 and entered the Guinness Book of Records.

Curiosities of Portugal

Portugal is a country full of surprises. Not only can you find the highest waves in the world, but you can also admire the second longest bridge in Europe, as well as the oldest bookstore still in operation.

Haven’t we convinced you with these curiosities of Portugal? Well, what do you think if we tell you that this nation was also the forerunner of the popular custom five o’clock tea? Surely, we have managed to make you consider it as your next destination.

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