“The air of Portugal has a natural happiness in it,” said H.G. Wells, and that’s certainly true. Nestled along the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal benefits from being neighbors with the ocean, its seafood, sun-soaked beaches, and fertile wine valleys unparalleled.
Contained in its breathtaking landscapes and picturesque villages are endlessly fascinating stories and an incredible history. Here are three amazing facts about Portugal:
- Vintners have been producing wine in the Douro Valley for nearly 2,000 years
When you sip a glass of Portuguese wine, know that you’re sipping the results of two thousand years of wine-making tradition. Local producers have been tending deliciously sweet grapes in their Douro Valley vineyards for ages, fine-tuning their techniques and cultivating the verdant landscape into elegant, intricate terraces dotted by pastoral wine-making farms, called quintas. The Douro River cuts through the valley, providing the moisture that the nutrient-rich vineyard soil needs. The floodplain is so significant to world culture that it wamed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- You can visit the Roman ‘Temple to Diana’ in Evora
The city of Evora is a fascinating time capsule of the country’s past. Here you can find extensive Medieval as well as Roman architecture and ruins.Perhaps the most famous landmark in Evora is the “Temple of Diana.” This striking Roman structure dates back to the second or third century AD – be sure to marvel at the ornate Corinthian designs topping each of the still-standing 14 pillars, as Planet Ware noted. An interesting fact to consider, however, is that there’s no record of why the temple was namhat it was, and no link to Diana exists. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating remnant of a different time.
- The oldest bookstore in the world is in Lisbon
Portugal has a rich artistic and literary tradition, and this proud heritage is on display at Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon. The bookstore is the oldest in the world, in operation for 285 years, and has been a meeting place for the country’s greatest minds to converse and debate. Some of these minds included famous novelist Aquino Ribeiro and Alexandre Herculano, a historian who is widely regarded as respole for spearheading the Romantic movementin Portugal in the 19th century, according to Atlas Obscura.
Discover the wonders of Portugal for yourself on Country Walkers’ Portugal: Porto to Lisbon tour. To request a free Country Walkers catalog and learn more about other exciting destinations throughout the world, click here. If you would like to speak with one of our Travel Experts, please call 800-234-6900. They are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.