It was founded in the 11th century. In 2001, it became the first country on Earth to decriminalise all common drugs and in 2010, it became the eighth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. 63% of the energy the country produces is from renewable sources. It’s the home of the Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest bridge in Europe at 10.5 miles long. Home to the University of Coimbra, the 10th oldest university on the planet. The most common names are João and Ana, for men and women respectively. It’s the home of the largest cork forest on Earth, where half the world’s cork is produced. And it made the world’s largest omelette, measuring in at just over 10 yards in diameter and weighing in at an incredible 675 stone. Today, we’re in the Land of Plenty, Portugal.
The Portuguese Republic is a friendly, liberal and safe country in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, bordered by Spain plus the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 109th largest country on Earth at 35,500 square miles, with the 86th largest population with just over 10 million people. The national flag contains the lesser coat of arms of the country and the colours come from the Estado Novo period, the nationalist authoritarian regime that held power from 1933 to 1974. The green represents hope, whilst the red symbolises the blood of those who died serving the nation. However, many believe this story is propaganda in the name of honourable justification of the unusual and uncommon colour choices.
The name of the country comes from the place name ‘Portus Cale’, literally, ‘Port of Cale’, a settlement in what is now northern Portugal. The founders of the port are a mystery, but ‘cale’ is believed to be an old Celtic word for ‘port’, suggesting the founders were Celts.
This country, a land of rivers, is most certainly diverse, what with mountains to the north covered in luscious vines and all varieties of trees, to the plateaus and deserts in the centre, to the many glorious and glamorous beaches adorning the coast. The generous, happy and welcoming Portuguese are mad about their football and golf, and also love their food and Port. This is a rich and lively land, drenched in a unique culture and populated with a wonderful people who can never do enough for you.
There are sights to see such as Mafra National Palace, a monumental and gorgeous Baroque and Italianised Neoclassical building, architecture that has far more in common with poetry than bricks and mortar. Then you have Peneda-Gerês National Park, the nation’s only national park, opening in 1971 and covering a staggering 271 square miles. Acre after acre of delightful and empyrean vistas, a rugged and untamed land whispering a timeless gaudium.
And then there’s Belém Tower, nestled majestically like a gleaming white jewel jutting out over the water’s edge. A sumptuous piece of art and craftsmanship, this fortified tower stands watch over the Tragus River. An unearthly sight that leaves one breathless at the sight of such beauty.
But I think the best sight of the country is Pena National Palace, a stunning and wondrous masterpiece of a building, perched mightily atop a tall and dominant hill. A mishmash of Romanticist styles and the brightest colours, a testament to fantastical human endeavour. An ethereal building of the most supreme grandeur, a nepenthe gem of marvellous delight.
Portugal. The country of beauty, friendliness and giant omelettes.
Images (Click on Them to Enlarge)
1) The flag of Portugal (credit: wikipedia.org)
2) Pena National Palace (credit: wikipedia.org)
3) Belém Tower (credit: ibellhop.com)
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