Sintra

The wonderful Portuguese culture

“Passion, culture, food and history”

Sintra

“As a royal summer residence”

“Como residência real de Verão”

Sintra as a royal summer residence

Picturesque royal palaces, a Moorish history, lots of wonderful buildings and parks in the nature of the Serra de Sintra. This is in a fast summarize why we call Sintra as a royal summer residence. A sort of paradise, a natural spa resort, in the mountains between Lisboa and the Atlantic Ocean. Almost every tourist, who visits Lisboa, wants to visit this UNESCO picturesque town. Read our post to learn what you have to discover over there and what is the best way to visit Sintra.

Information

Region:

District:

Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:

Lisbon Metropolitan Area

Lisboa

Lisboa

30 km

Location keywords:

Royal palace, summer residence, UNESCO, natural park, picturesque, wonderful, paradise

A Royal summer residence in a natural park

“The royals in a natural spa resort”

Sintra is a little town on a mountain, around 30 km away of Lisboa. It is located between the capital of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean. A lot of famous buildings were summer residences of the royal family. Some others have an older history and had a military goal. Aside of these buildings, Sintra also has a lot of wonderful parks to discover and many viewpoints over the nature of the mountain. The whole area has the symptoms of a natural spa resort. This is one of the reasons why also other high placed peoples wanted their own residence in the picturesque Sintra. These days, Sintra is UNESCO World Heritage and a lot of buildings are part of Parques de Sintra.


National royal summer residence palaces

“The royals already loved the nature of Sintra”

National Palace of Sintra

“The oldest palace of Portugal”
sintra royal summer residence oldest national palace center city portugal lisbon

In downtown Sintra stands the National Palace of Sintra. It is the oldest palace of Portugal, spans the entire history of Portugal and was built over many centuries. This means that the different buildings of this palace also have different styles. The oldest part already is from the 10th-11th century. The Moorish styles of the palace demonstrates this. Sintra and whole Portugal were under the rule of the Moors in this period. 2 Large chimney’s of the royal kitchen characterize the outside of this wonderful royal palace.

sintra royal summer residence oldest national palace inside room view azulejos moors moorish portugal
sintra royal summer residence oldest national palace palacio kitchen portugal
sintra royal summer residence blue azulejos tile painting portugal palace
“A favorite destination for the Queens and Kings of Portugal”

The Queens of Portugal took care of the large territory of Sintra at the end of the Middle Ages. The Palace of Sintra was located in the heart of this territory. Also for the Portuguese monarchs was this palace a preferred destination. A first reason was due to the wonderful and cooler summer climate of the mountains near the Atlantic Ocean. Secondly, it was an ideal region for hunting. Finally, in the periods of the Plague in the capital they needed to protect themselves. These 3 reasons made the Palace of Sintra the most favorite summer residence for a lot of monarchs.

sintra as a royal summer residence rood of arms brações portugal
sintra royal summer residence oldest palace of portugal birds roof
“Visit the way of living of many monarchs”

The National Palace of Sintra is a wonder to visit. Make a tour through the history and visit the oldest palace of Portugal. Discover and experience how the many monarchs and older cultures lived through a lot of centuries in Portugal. For me it is a must do when you travel to Sintra.

National Palace de Pena

sintra as a royal summer residence palacio da pena palace mountain overview nature forest red color side
“Colorful Royal summer residence”

One of the most famous buildings of Sintra, is the National Palace of Pena, o Palácio de Pena. Located on the highest hill in the Serra de Sintra and with so many colors. This palace has some Disney allure. With the only difference, that people lived in the Palace de Pena. Yes, still at the end of the Kingdom of Portugal before Portugal transformed into a republic in 1910. Palácio de Pena also was a summer residence of the Portuguese monarchs. Since the institution of the republic in 1910, it is a national monument. This museum is a romanticist castle, UNESCO World Heritage and the most visited monument in Portugal. It also is 1 of the 7 wonders of Portugal.

“A history of a monastery, meditation and place for pilgrims”

The top of this mountain already has a huge history. Before this wonderful palace stood there, it was a place for monks, pilgrims and meditation. In the Middle Ages, there was a chapel built on this hill, dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. Later on, in the 15th century, there came a Sanctuary around it. Now this place became a place for pilgrims. King Manuel I of Portugal gave the order to built a monastery on the mountain. For many centuries it was a meditation place for a maximum of 18 monks. There came an end on this meditation place due to the earthquake of 1st November 1755. Almost whole Lisbon was destroyed and also the monastery on the highest mountain of Sintra. Afterwards, in 1842, they started to built a wonderful palace as a summer residence for the royal family with a large garden. In this garden, meditation still is possible. But yes, these days there are many tourists a whole year long to visit and discover this place. You will never be alone. It is possible to pass a whole day to visit the royal summer palace and the large park around it.

“A beautiful mix of neo-romantic styles”
sintra as a royal summer residence full color pena palace overview old monastery palacio disney 7 wonders portugal

The Pena Palace, as you discover it these days, dates from the half of the 19th century. It is a good example of the exotic taste in the Romantic period. When you look at the architecture of the palace, it contains a mix of neo-Gothic, neo-Islamic, neo-Renaisance and the Portuguese famous neo-Manueline styles. For the good observators, they discover references of other famous Portuguese monuments in the Pena Palace.

sintra pena palace entrance gate moorish old wall mountain royal summer residence
sintra pena palace royal summer residence entrance man fish old monastery portugal lisbon
sintra royal summer residence palacio de pena palace yellow red blue portugal
“An at least equally impressive park”

Most people are attracted by the wonderful Palace itself. And it is completely correct. I only can confirm this. The park around the palace is at least equally impressive and worth the effort your time. For me, visiting the park garden gave me the best example why this place was a meditation area in the past and why the Portuguese royal wanted to have their summer residence over here. The wonderful nature, climate and clean air. By experiencing these facts, I completely agree that Sintra is a natural open air spa resort.

Wait, if you thought you have seen all the wonders of Sintra, read further. There still are wonderful buildings and park garden coming lower in this post. What do you already think of the next one.

Park and Palace of Monserrate

sintra as a royal summer residence monserrate palace view portugal lisbon lisboa
“From chapel to palace”

In the past there already stood a chapel devoted to Maria on this place. In 1540 there came a hermitage devoted to Our Lady of Monserrate, which was part of a large hospital of Lisboa. This hermitage was built because they were wondered about the hermitage of Montserrat near Barcelona, in Catalonia. After the earthquake of 1755, it was for many years an abandoned place until rich English people returned in the late 18th century. From that moment on, this place became a very popular travel destination for English tourists. In 1863, Francis Cook bought this area and gave the order to buy the current palace. It was the summer residence of the family Cook.

“Exotic oriental and romantic styles”
sintra royal summer residence inside monserrate palace palacio moors

The palace has an exotic oriental appearance with a lot of Romantic, Moorish, Indian and neo-Gothic influences. A lot of the interior decorations also are extended to the exterior and are harmoniously connected with the wonderful garden around the building. According to many it is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens of Portugal.

sintra royal summer residence monserrate exotic park garden jardim walk experience
sintra royal summer residence monserrate palace side view portugal lisbon
sintra summer residence monserrate exotic garden park jardim portugal

Queluz

“Rococo summer residence”
sintra as a royal summer residence palace queluz palacio rococo style rei portugal unesco

Between Lisboa and Sintra, we discover Queluz, still in the municipality of Sintra. Here stands the Palace of Queluz, also a royal summer residence. Palácio de Queluz is one of the last European famous buildings in Rococo style. This palace dates from 1747 and also known as the Portuguese Versailles. The garden around the palace is also a wonder to see.

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Moorish castle

“Protect the region and Lisbon”
sintra mountain castle casetlo mouros moorish city town overview viewpoint miradouro history serra forest

This castle stands prominent in the region and always had a strategic function. It is already 1000 years old, from the time when the Moors ruled the Iberian Peninsula. They built this castle to protect the whole area and the maritime access of Lisboa. Inside and around this castle lived a lot of people. Now it is known as the Islamic Quarter.

“From the Moors to the Kingdom of Portugal”
sintra moorish castle walls portugal mountain lisbon district
sintra castle mouros castelo walls up walk portugal lisbon district

Till 1147, the Moors lived here. This year, the Christians conquered Lisboa. Sintra was handed over to the first King of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques. Now the Christians settled in the Moorish castle. The Islamic Quarter disappeared and the site became a Medieval town. From the 15th century, they left this area because there was no need anymore to protect themselves against the Moors or other folks.

“Restorations for a Medieval appearance”

In the 19th century, in the Romantic period, they already restored the castle under King Ferdinand II. The Medieval appearance and feelings around this castle came again alive. This was a start so we still can admire the walls and history of this castle.

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Quinta da Regaleira

“Showcase of wealth in a wonderful labyrinth”
sintra summer residence quinta da regaleira duilding manueline style portugal lisbon garden jardim

The Brazilian merchant in coffee and jewels António Carvalho Monteiro dos Milhões bought this ground at the end of the 19th century. He was so fascinated about the area of Sintra and also wanted a place in the middle of the royals to showcase his wealth. The Italian architect Luigi Manini constructed and decorated for him a Quinta in the Manueline style and a garden as a labyrinth on a site of 4 hectares.

sintra royal summer residence quinta da regaleira stairs in the park garden jardim
sintra summer residence quinta regaleira garden jardim bank sit down royal manueline style portugal
sintra quinta regaleira summer residence stones underground labyrinth spelonks discover
sintra summer residence quinta da regaleira portugal serra forest stairs underground labyrinth spelonks
“Grottos, corridors and mystery”

The garden is built up with fountains, pavilions, winding trails, natural stairs, grottos, underground corridors and a lot of mystery anywhere in the park. When I visited this Quinta, I found out that it is a good idea to wear clothes that can get dirty and have a flashlight with you.

sintra summer residence quinta regaleira grottos caves stones underground labyrinth garden discover walk ways experience
sintra royal summer residence poco walk hidden underground discover quinta da regaleira
sintra as royal summer residence quinta regaleira poco walk water steps stones labyrinth garden jardim

The convent of the Capuchos

“An ultimate austere life”
sintra convent capuchos mountain claustro small austere life house monks serra forest portugal

8 Monks who arrived from the convent of Arrábida founded this convent in 1560. The Capuchin monks followed the Franciscan rule and lived an ultimate austere life. The primitive community built a convent in the mountains of Sintra, in Colares. All the buildings over here remember to this time. Houses and rooms with a very small entrance. Only the basic facilities according to that time were present. The retired clergy lived together in this community until the religious orders were abolished in Portugal.

sintra convent capuchos mountain chapel monatery fountain austere life forest monks capucin colares portugal
sintra convent capuchos monks capucin small doors rooms house monastery colares austere life

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Queijadas de Sintra

“Cheese pastries”
sintra queijadas piriquita cheese custard cake comida food pastry eat portugal

The typical pastries of SIntra are made of cheese. They are made of fresh cheese, eggs, sugar, flower and cinnamon. It is inside a crispy pastry dough. A very nice pastry to taste when you are in Sintra. I found out that the best place to try these pastry in Sintra itself is in Piriquita.

“Convento da Penha Longa”

Originally, the first queijadas of Sintra were made in the Convento da Penha Longa. This was located in Linhó, a little bit out of the center of Sintra. This was a male convent of the Ordem de São Jerónimo. The original queijadas recipe would be without cinnamon and sugar, because the monks of this convent didn’t knew these products.


Sintra at the Atlantic Ocean

“A natural park near the Atlantic Ocean”
“The most southwestern point of Europe”
sintra cabo da roca farol atlantic ocean rotary club colares azoia most western point continental europe portugal swimming pool

Did you knew that Sintra is more than the town and the wonderful monuments? Sintra is located in the large Serra de Serra, which has a span to the Atlantic Ocean. Also Queluz and Colares are part of Sintra. Finally, also Cabo da Roca, near the Atlantic Ocean, is located in Sintra. This is the most western point of continental Europe. It is a wonderful place to visit.

“A swimming pool near the Atlantic Ocean”
sintra azenhas do mar summer residence swimming pool cliffs village atlantic ocean

Another nice location to visit in Sintra near the Atlantic Ocean is Azenhas do Mar. A part of the town is built on the cliffs near the Atlantic Ocean, while at the beach you discover a nice natural swimming pool. In the summer, many people come to here to swim here. In the other times of the year, it is not a good idea to go in this sort of pool. Because the waves of the Atlantic Ocean may head over the ramparts. Don’t make the mistake, this is the Atlantic Ocean, not a sea.

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Vineyards in the sand of Colares

“Grapes in the sand”

Have you ever seen grapes and vineyards in the sand? In Colares you can. They have a unique wine. The grapes of the vineyards grow in the sand, and low to the ground. This region has a special climate, near the Atlantic Ocean. An extra positive point of the sand grounds is that aphids can’t live in sand. So, the winemakers don’t have to care about aphids plagues. The Adega Regional de Colares is the oldest wine cooperation in Portugal. You can visit the Adega Regional of Colares and taste this wine by yourself.

sintra adega regional de colares building portugal winery wine doc lisbon district
sintra colares wine cave lodge azulejos blue tiles adega regional

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Travel to this picturesque royal summer residence Sintra

You completely are convinced to visit Sintra. Discover one of the 7 wonders of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage. Click on the buttons below to find your perfect flight to Lisboa and/or stay in this picturesque town which is one of the most wonderful places of Portugal. It is almost 40 minutes away from Lisboa, Lisbon. Don’t wait any longer and feel yourself as a royal in this summer residence and natural spa resort in the mountains of Serra de Sintra.


keywords:

#sintra, #royalpalace, #summerresidence, #history, #unesco

Estimated read time: 15 minutes

Visit the monuments

“Go to the monuments”

By bus

When you arrive in Sintra, you can go to the most monuments by bus from the station. This is the most easy way to travel to the many palaces and the castle.

“Colares”

For Colares and the Atlantic coastline, taking the bus is the best option.

Walking

Some monuments are not far from the station. Because they re in the city center itself or on a 30-40 minutes walk away of the station. Keep in mind, Serra de Sintra are mountains. For example walking to the castle and Pena palace is possible in around 40 minutes. But, it will be very hilly. You will get a nice experience on your walk to the castle, but it is not for people who are not in good condition.

“Convento dos Capuchos”

The Capuchos convent is a wonderful place to visit. Because it is located in a more hidden place in the mountains, there is no bus connection directly to this location. A taxi can bring you there. Or you can walk in around 30-40 minutes through the park of Sintra from the Monserrate palace. Also from the Pena Palace, it is possible to walk to this convent. Keep in mind that you have to walk through the natural park. This is a hilly way and can be closed for safety reasons. For example, risk of fire in the summer period. Maybe it is better to avoid walking the way to Capuchos in the summer time.

How to reach?

“Arrive in Sintra”

By car

Sintra is around 30 km away from Lisboa. With a car you arrive in almost 30-40 minutes in Sintra. From the other sides, also are great ways to reach Sintra. So, you don’t need to pass Lisboa if you arrive from the Silver Coast.

“Freedom to discover”

By car you have the freedom to discover the whole region. You can drive where you want, when you want. Even, if you also want to discover other places in the north of Lisboa. What do you think of the Palace of Queluz or locations like Mafra, Ericeira, Óbidos, Peniche and so on.

By train

From Lisboa you have a great train connection to Sintra. Whether you are in the historical center of Lisboa or not, it takes around 40-50 minutes to arrive in Sintra by train. Depart from Rossio, Oriente, Entrecampos or Sete Rios. Find out the time schedule on the website of CP.

Flight to Lisboa

Because Sintra is around 30 km away from Lisboa, it is worth to do as a nice trip if you stay in Lisbon. Keep in mind that it is not possible to see and experience everything in Sintra on 1 day. To visit all the wonders on a relaxed way, you have to make a separate city trip for Sintra itself. Book already your flight to Lisboa. In most cases, that is the first step to arrive in the region of the royal summer residence of Portugal.


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Ginja

The wonderful Portuguese culture

“Passion, culture, food and history”

Ginja

“The Portuguese cherry liqueur”

“O licor da cereja portuguesa”

Ginja the Portuguese cherry liqueur

Liqueur is one of the famous products in Portugal. Here we talk about the famous ginja berries infused in alcohol and added extra sugar. This is Ginja the Portuguese cherry liqueur. Sometimes it also is called Ginjinha. In this post, I tell you more about this famous liqueur. Taste with us this delicious drink, with or without a fruit.

keywords:

#ginja, #ginjinha, #liqueur, #ginjadeobidos, #cherryliqueur

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Ginja, Ginjinha, a delicious cherry liqueur

“A delicious shot of liqueur”
ginja obidos taste portuguese cherry liqueur licor copo cups

If you already visited Lisboa, or the region around, you may discovered it. There are a lot of small bars where you can taste a shot of a delicious liqueur. Here they sell Ginja the Portuguese cherry liqueur. Mostly you can choose with or without fruit.

“Sour cherry berries, aguardente and sugar”

You drink Ginja in a shot. Sometimes in a shot glass, sometimes in a chocolate cup. This last one is famous for the Ginja de Óbidos. To make Ginjinha, ginja berries (sour cherry) are infused in aguardente, an alcohol. Extra sugar is added and sometimes also cinnamon, which is a famous product in Portugal. The final product has around 18% ABV.

“A typical Portuguese product”

Because it is a famous liqueur, you maybe think it also is famous out of the country. Nothing is less true. Around 90% of the Ginja liqueur is drunk in Portugal itself. They only export around 10% of the liqueur. So, it is a product to typical taste in Portugal itself. Personally, I only can confirm this. For most products, nothing beats the taste in his region of origin.

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Where do you find the Ginja liqueur?

“Mostly found in the Oeste and around Lisboa”

Ginja liqueur can be found anywhere in the country. Many places and regions have opportunities to taste Ginja. The most famous onces are in Lisboa and the Oeste region, especially in Óbidos.

List of places to taste Ginja the Portuguese liqueur

  1. Lisboa (Lisbon)
  2. Óbidos
  3. Alcobaça
  4. Marvão
  5. Algarve
  6. Covilhã
  7. Serra da Estrela
“Ginja in Lisboa”
a ginjinha ginja portuguese cherry liqueur licor lisboa lisbon
a ginjinha ginja portuguese famous cherry liqueur licor liquor sour aguardente alcohol shot fruit

As already told above, in Lisboa, you can taste Ginja on many corners. Many small bars sell a shot of this famous Portuguese liqueur. Of course, you also can go for a whole bottle. Make a choice with or without a fruit. The oldest bar is located at Praça de São Domingos, near the Igreja de São Domingos. This was the first one who commercialized the Ginja liqueur. It still is my favorite place in Lisboa to taste a shot of Ginja. I can’t make a trip to Lisboa, without making a stop at “A Ginjinha”.

“Ginja de Óbidos”
obidos ginja licor chocolate cup portugal silver coast

One of the most famous places of the Ginja is Óbidos. This is a small walled village, around 80 km in the north of Lisboa and with a lot of history. The most famous about Ginja de Óbidos is that they traditionally taste it in a edible chocolate cup. First drink the delicious Ginja liqueur, afterwards eat the chocolate cup.

ginja ginjina obidos licor liqueur portuguese famous chocolate cup copo portugal cereja cherry aguardente
obidos azulejos history ginja licor chocolate
“Serra da Estrela and covilhã”

The Ginja of Serra da Estrela, which is centered around the region of Covilhã, has a protected label, the PDO : the Protected Designation of Origin.

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Aveiro

The wonderful Portuguese culture

“Passion, culture, food and history”

Aveiro

“Romance near the Atlantic Ocean”

“O romance ao lado do Oceano Atlântico”

The romance of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean

Time for romance in Portugal. Travel to the romance of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean. WIth his Ria, near the Atlantic Ocean, and the small canals through the city, it is the place to be for a romantic city trip in central Portugal. Take a small colorful boat and discover the city from the water. This post already informs you about why to visit Aveiro in the north of the Silver Coast.

keywords:

#aveiro, #atlanticocean, #silvercoast, #romance, #river, #ovosmoles, #sweetpastry

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Information

Region:

District:

Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:

Central Portugal

Aveiro

Coimbra

60 km

Location keywords:

Silver Coast, Romance, Ovos Moles, Venice of Portugal

Romance boats like in Venice

“Small water canals and the Ria”

By arriving in the city center of Aveiro, you can’t ignore it that the city is marked by many small water canals. These canals lead to the famous Ria de Aveiro. The Ria is the mouth Vouga river, o Foz do Vouga. While the canals through the city center were used to transport the famous product of Aveiro inside the city: o moliço. More about this lower in this post. The famous small Moliceiro boats circulate on these canals. Previously it was as a work boat, these days it is for tourists. Through this fact, a lot of people call Aveiro as the Venice of Portugal. Read further to be informed about the wonders and romance of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean.

aveiro moliceiro boat tourists canal city center visit ria color wonder romance venice portugal

Moliceiro boats

“Colorful boats cross the canals”

The Moliceiro boats are colorful elegant boats. These days, they are used to guide tourists through the city and let them see the city from the water canals. You also get information about the city and why the boats were used in the past.

aveiro moliceiro boat top front side small city canal ria barco colorful design romance
aveiro moliceiro boats tourists working barco molico seaweed canals ria atlantic ocean vouga river venice portugal
aveiro city moliceiro boats small canals color wonder romance atlantic coast venice portugal
“Working boats”

In the past, the Moliceiro boats were working boats of the Ria de Aveiro. The Ria is a little bit out of the city center, the place of the lagoon of the Vouga river. There is a lot of seaweed and molice in the water. These elegant boats were very useful to harvest these products and transport them to the city through the small canals.

aveiro romance wonder moliceiro boats canals water ria venice tourists small romantic
aveiro canal bridge amizade lacos water color wonder romance visit ria

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Ria de Aveiro

“Rich salt water”

Moliço

“Molice as a biological agricultural fertilizer”
aveiro ria vouga river moliço molico seaweed harvest moliceiros boats barco water nature portugal silver coast

The Ria de Aveiro holds a lot of Molice. This is a water plant that was harvested to use in the agriculture as a biological fertilizer. This is formed by algae or seaweed. Now, you immediately learned from where came the name of these wonderful and colorful elegant boats.

Salinas de Aveiro

“Sea salt mines of the Marnots”

Aside of the molice, the region around the Ria de Aveiro also is rich of sea salt. This is a second product which they harvest out of the Ria. You can’t visit Aveiro without once seen the famous Salinas de Aveiro. In the salinas harvest the workers, called Marnotos, the sea salt. It is worth your visit with a guided tour.

aveiro salinas salt atlantic ocean wonder fleur de sel silver coast portugal
aveiro salt salinas sel harvest portugal silver coast atlantic ocean sea

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Doces de Aveiro

“The famouse sweet pastries”

Almost every region in Portugal has his own pastry made from basic products. Aveiro is no exception on this rule. One of the wonders of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean are the famous pastries made of egg yolks and sugar.

Ovos Moles

aveiro ovos moles pastry wonder portugal silver coast egg yolk sugar eat food drink
aveiro ovos moles sweet pastry coffee doces maravilha wonder eat food drink
“Egg yolks and sugar”

The famous pastries of Aveiro are Ovos Moles. The origin of the Ovos Moles would be in the Convent of Jesus of Aveiro. As in each convent and monastery, the egg whites were used to iron clothes. With the egg yolks they made food, like pastries. Egg yolks together with sugar made in Aveiro the Ovos Moles. Sweet pastry in a sort of host. Ovos Moles always are in the running of the sweet wonders of Portugal, as Maravilhas Doces de Portugal.

“Liquid form”
aveiro licor ovos moles liqueur drink food egg yolks sugar sweet

What do you think to find a liquid form of the Ovos Moles? It is available in a liqueur. You also can find the Licor Aveirense Ovos Moles, or in short Licor de Ovos Moles. In Aveiro, taste it in a kiosk near the city canals.

Tripas de Aveiro

“Kind of pancake with a waffle structure”

Aside of the Ovos Moles, other sweets in Aveiro are the Tripas de Aveiro. You can describe it as a sort of pancake with a waffle structure and filled or topped by something you prefer: sugar, chocolate or a liquid Ovos Moles filling.

aveiro sweet wonders ovos moles eggs tripas licor food drink

Do you dare to combine?

“Combine everything together”

When I visited Aveiro to discover this wonderful city and as a source to write this post, I decided to take all together: the Tripas de Aveiro with Ovos Moles filling and a Licor de Ovos Moles in a cup you can eat. It is great, but a huge sugar bomb. Afterwards, you don’t have to eat or drink anymore. Also, I did it never again. What do you think? Do you want to give this combination a try?


Praia da Costa Nova

“Colorful fishermen houses”

A trip to Aveiro also includes a visit to the Atlantic coastline. One of the beaches that absolutely deserves a stop is Praia da Costa Nova. Here you find a lot of old colorful fishermen’s houses. In these houses stored the fishermen their equipment and they could relax. Now, most of the houses are a second home for vacation at the Atlantic Ocean, possible to rent as beach house or there are restaurants and hotels. From the city center of Aveiro, you arrive here by bus or of course if you have the flexibility of a car.

aveiro restaurante color yellow stripes lines costa nova praia beach wonder romance atlantic ocean coastline
aveiro costa nova house romance romantic atltantic ocean praia beach fishermen color lines

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Visit the romance of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean

Are you completely convinced to visit the wonders and romance of Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean? Click on the buttons below to find your perfect flights to Portugal and/or stay in this romantic city in the north of the Silver Coast. Aveiro is 1h away from Porto. Go for it!

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How to reach?

“Wonderful train station”

By car

Aveiro is situated at the Atlantic Ocean, between Porto and Coimbra. So, it is easy to reach this romantic city by car from these cities. Also, no problem from inside the country. Do you come from the region of Viseu or the Douro Valley? There are highways leading you to Aveiro.

“Max 1 hour”

From Porto or Coimbra, you drive in around 45 minutes and maximum 1 hour to Aveiro. This is very easy to do with a car, also for a day trip.

By bus

Even as in the most cities in Portugal, you reach Aveiro by bus with the bus network of Rede Expressos. This is a very good bus company in Portugal. They bring you through Portugal in a fast and cheap way. Many locals take this kind of transport to travel. Of course, also many tourists.

rede expressos portugal bus autocarro transport fast lines

By train

Aveiro is around 1 hour away by train from Porto. Also to Coimbra is a train connection. With the CP Coimbra-Aveiro also is a trip of around 1 hour. So, traveling by train to and from Aveiro is very easy.

“Wonderful train station”

Aveiro has one of the most wonderful train stations of Portugal. The facade at the front has a lot of wonderful azulejos, the typical Portuguese blue tiles telling a story. Only for this reason, it is a must do to see the train station of Aveiro. I want to let you discover it by yourself. Traveling is discovering to enrich yourself.

Flight to Porto

As you read above, if you fly to the international airport of Porto, you can reach Aveiro in many easy ways. In almost 1 hour you arrive from Porto in Aveiro by train, car or bus. It is up to you to find out which kind of transport fits you the best for your Portugal trip. When you are in the region and have the time, there is no reason to not make a trip to Aveiro near the Atlantic Ocean.


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Port Wine

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Discover the country of the most western discoverers of Europe

Port Wine

“The most famous fortified wine”

“O vinho fortificado mais famoso”

Learn all about the most famous fortified wine

This post tells you everything about the most famous fortified wine: the Port wine, o Vinho do Porto. So, we travel to the north of Portugal to arrive in the Douro valley. Learn everything about this special wine, which is a protected product. In Portugal, you have different types of wine and you have Port wine. We delve further in the Port wine below.

keywords:

#portwine, #vinhodoporto, #douro, #dourovalley, #wineterraces, #fortifiedwine

Estimated read time: 20 minutes

From the origin to a protected famous wine

In this post you read from a lot of the background of the Port wine to discover it is a protected product. The final words are to help you tasting this wonderful product the best way. Because, make no mistake. Port wine is a separate world on itself and it is not a product to be seen as a simple sweet alcoholic drink.

“Find your topic”

Scroll down to read the whole post or select here your specific topic.


What was the start of Port wine?

“The origin of British merchants”

Most of the brands of the Port wines have an English name. From where does this come? Read the paragraph below to learn about the origin of this.

Wars between France and England

“No French wines anymore for the English drinkers”

There were a lot of wars between England and France in the 17th and 18th century. A lot of English people loved to drink wine and especially the French wines. But due to these conflicts, this became no option anymore. A lot of English merchants moved more southwards for new wines. They found a new opportunity in the north of Portugal. When they arrived back in England with the Portuguese wine, it wasn’t anymore able to drink due to the new longer route over sea. The English merchants needed to find a solution for this.

“Fortify the wine with extra alcohol”

Between the English merchants, there also were Scotch merchants. These already had a lot of experiences with distillation and making whisky. They knew that when you have a higher alcohol percentage, it is possible to store your product longer. Some of these merchants located themselves in the Douro Valley to fortify the Portuguese wine with extra alcohol before they transported it. When these fortified wines arrived in England and Scotland, the people over there loved it. It was a huge success and this was the start of a new type of wine, wines with a higher alcohol percentage as normal. Port wine has an alcohol percentage between 19% and 22%.




From vineyard to the lodge

“Crafted aside the Douro river”

Grapes aside the Douro river

port wine vineyards famous fortified wine douro river valley region north portugal

Porto is the city of the Port wine and Vila Nova de Gaia the location of the lodges. But the grapes on the vineyards are located a around 70 km further inside the country aside of the Douro river. Over there you find the famous terraces at the both sides of the river with the Quinta’s. The famous wine is made over there and prepared for transport to the lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Transport to the lodge

“Rabelo boat”
port wine douro river vila nova de gaia rabelo boat transport barrel north portugal

In the past, the wine from the Quinta’s in the Douro Valley was placed in small barrels and afterwards transported by boat over the Douro river to the lodge. It were small flat-bottom boats, called a Rabelo. You still can discover these wonderful typical and famous boats in Vila Nova de Gaia. These days, the brands use tanker trucks to transport the famous wine downwards the river.

porto douro river port wine rabelo boats most famous fortified valley boat
port wine douro river rabelo boats ribeira vila nova de gaia porto valley transport north portugal


3 Famous wine regions

“Further upwards the river”

The vineyards of the grapes for this famous Port wine are separated in 3 regions. Discover them all in this paragraph below.

port wine most famous fortified douro river valley vineyards regions vineyard portugal north

Baixo Corgo

Firstly, the westernmost zone and nearest to Porto itself, is the Baixo Corgo. This is the lowest region of the Douro Valley and also the wettest. The grapes here grow in the coolest average temperatures.

Cima Corgo

Further upwards, in the center, you find the Cima Corgo. It is the region around the famous place in Pinhão, one of the most important in the world of Port wine. The grapes of this zone are considered of higher quality due to the more average temperatures and fewer rainfall.

Douro Superior

Finally, the latest region and most upwards is the Douro Superior. Here we are in the easternmost region of the Douro Valley and the nearest to Spain. It is the warmest of the 3 and also the most flat. Using machines to harvest to grapes is possible over here, while it is not in in the other 2.


Most famous wine styles

“Aging and maturing makes the difference”

What are the styles of Port wine?

In the world of the Port wine, their are a lot of different styles with each his own typical taste. It’s all about aging and maturing in tanks, large barrels, small barrels or bottles. Do you want to know the differences? Go further with the list below to learn the most famous styles of Port wine.

“Color, multiple or one year”

How are the Port styles divided? Firstly, there is a difference by color. There is white, red and rosé Port wine. Secondly, they make a difference by aging and maturing process. The final difference is in the fact of the grapes are from one harvest year or not. Each style is explained in more detail below.



Divided into 2 basic styles

Red Port wines can be divided in 2 basic styles: Ruby and Tawny. These both have separate subcategories according the aging and harvest process. White Port wine follows the same as the Tawny Port wines. Select your style below t o find out more.

port most famous fortified wine ruby tawny winho bottle difference douro valley
  • RUBY
  • TAWNY
RUBY

Harvest from many years

The standard Ruby Port wine is a young wine aged for 2 years in large tanks of steel to prevent oxidative aging. Afterwards it is bottled and ready to drink. This is a blend of the harvest from many years.

“Reserva after 3 years”

When the wine is aged for 3 years in the large tanks, we speak of a “Reserva” Port wine. Also the Reserva is a mix of many years.

Harvest of one year

The most famous Ruby styles are of the harvest of one unique year.

“The special Vintage Year”

When the young wine is bottled after 2 or at least 3 years, it can be declared as a Vintage. The IVDP has to declare that the wine has a very high quality and meets the quality restrictions to be a Vintage. All the wines of that year may be called Vintage. Normally, this happens around 2 years after the harvest year. It also is only possible for aged wines of one year, so it may not mixed with other harvest years.

“LBV bottled after 6 years”

Stays the wine of the harvest of one year in the large tank for 4-6 years before it is bottled? In that case, it is possible to make a Late Bottled Vintage Port wine, the LBV. It is the same process as the Vintage port. Here the wine is aged longer in the tank and the year of harvest is not known as a Vintage year.

“Lay down for many years”

Bottles of LBV and Vintage Port wine must lay down horizontally and can be stored for many years. The reason to lay down is that the wine still has contact with the air and cork stopper of the bottle. When you open a bottle of one of these Port styles, you have 2 weeks while the wine stays at his top quality. Vintage Port wines are the most expensive Port wines you can find.

TAWNY

Harvest from many years

All the Tawny Port wines are aged in oak barrels and most of them are a mix of different harvest years. Basic Tawny Port wines are aged for 3 years in large barrels. Afterwards, it is bottled. To age the wine further, it is stored in small barrels to have more contact with the wooden barrel and the air.

“Reserva after 6 years”

Again after 3 years of aging, now in the smaller barrels, the Port wine becomes a “Reserva”. The Port wine now has aged for a total of 6 years in wooden barrels before it is brought into a bottle.

“10, 20, 30, 40 Years”

The most famous Tawny Port wines are these with a year label. Also here the wine is aged in small wooden barrels and is bottled at a specific year after the wine fragmentation: 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years. The year on the bottle is of the oldest harvest year.

port wine lodge barrels cellar porto vinho fortified famous north portugal douro valley river
port wine famous fortified wine large barrels tawny vinho many litros liters lodge douro valley
porto port wine lodge cellar different barrels vila nova de gaia

Harvest of one year

“Colheita”

Finally it also is possible to make a Tawny port from one harvest year. This wine is aged for 7 years in wooden barrels, 3 years in large barrels and 4 years in small barrels. We call this style of Port wine “Colheita“. Colheita is the Portuguese word for “harvest”.



What are the ideal drinking temperatures?

For White Port wine it is known to be drunk cool. Many people think that Red Port wines are OK when they are at room temperature. This is a huge mistake. Also the red Port wine variants have their specific ideal temperature to drink.

“Lower as 20 degrees”

For each Port wine, the ideal drinking temperature is lower as 20 degrees Celsius. The ideal temperature for white and rosé Port wine is even much lower.

Port type

White

Rosé

Ruby

Tawny

LBV & Vintage

Drink at °C

6-10

4

12-16

12-14

16-18

Remarks

Temperature of the fridge

Low fridge temperature

Place in a cool room

Place in a cool room

A little bit warmer room


Who are the most famous wine houses?

“Every house has his own style”

There are a lot of Port houses in Portugal. Most of them say they have “the finest port”. Every brand, or better Port house, has his typical style and taste. And about taste and color, you can’t discuss.

From authentic wine houses to the most famous

“A lot of family traditions”

You already learned a lot about the background of the Port wine. Now it is time to discover some of the most famous fortified wine houses who produce Port wine. By everyone it is a long family tradition and they are very proud on it.



6 Most famous Port houses to visit

Here is a short list of the most famous port houses to visit.

1 – Kopke

“The oldest first”

But first things first. What do you think if we start with the oldest port house still alive? Let’s do this. The first port house we talk about is Kopke.

port wine logo kopke famous oldest house vinho do porto

Since

Founded by

Quinta

1638

Nicolau Kopkë

Quinta São Luiz

About

Nicolau Kopkë came from Hamburg, Germany, to settle himself in the north of Portugal as a Consul General. 2 Years later, in 1638 the first wine bottles were shipped from Portugal to the north of Europe by Kopke. Kopke was a transport company in his first period. They bought wines and exported these wines to other countries.

“From exporter to wine house”

The changed their main business from an exporter to a major wine producer in 1781. So, Port wine became the main focus of Kopke. Now the real port wine house was born. They became a famous wine house who brought new innovations, producing techniques and ways of shipping the wines.

porto vinho do porto kopke oldest port wine douro

Why to choose Kopke?

Maybe simply because it is the oldest house still alive. Isn’t that a good reason as such? Also Kopke has a great tradition and nice wines in special bottles.

2 – Taylor’s

“The finest Port”

Taylor’s call themselves the port house of “The Finest Port”. I only can tell you, it is up to you to compare with others and discover it by yourself. A certainty is that they have a very long tradition and still are one of the most traditional Port houses out there. They also still have a typical English style.

port wine logo fortified famous taylors brand porto taylor porto douro

Since

Founded by

Quintas

1692

Job Bearsley

Quinta de Vargellas

Quinta de Terra Feita

Quinta do Junco

About

Job Bearsley arrived as an English merchant in the north of Portugal. The first trade of his company was of the typical austere red Portuguese wine out of the Minho region. Afterwards, Bartholomew Bearsley bought his first property in the the Douro Valley to have better relationships with the farmers.

port house douro river vila nova de gaia taylors lodge famous historical
“Work together with others”

Joseph Taylor again focused more on Port wine. But because his health begun to fail, there was a need to address new investors in the company. This fact brought the 2 new partners Morgan Yeatman and John Fladgate in the company. From this moment on they often call about Taylor, Fladgate & Yeatman or only Taylor Fladgate. They still trade under Taylor’s.

porto taylor's port lodge taste wine portugal travel

Why to choose Taylor’s Port?

There is no doubt about one aspect. Taylor’s Port is indeed one of the finest Port and they still have a typical British tradition. When you visit the lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, you discover this directly. Their Vintage Port is known as one of the most expensive in the world. It is up to you to decide for yourself, it is worth the price or not. This is out of the scope of this article.

3 – Graham’s

“2 Families through 3 centuries on a mountain”

Graham’s is located higher on the hills in Vila Nova de Gaia. To visit this lodge, you have to make a huge climb. But when you arrive at the lodge, you get a wonderful view over the Douro river and Porto itself. Aside of making a guided tour through the lodge, this is a good reason to make the trip upwards. Further Graham’s is a Port house of 2 families through already 3 centuries.

port famous fortified wine house grahams porto logo douro river

Since

Founded by

Quintas

1820

William & John Graham

Quinta dos Malvedos

Quinta das Lages

Quinta do Vale de Malhadas

Quinta do Tua

About

The 2 brothers William and John Graham started their family company in the north of Portugal to trade in textiles. In 1820, they accepted 27 barrels of Port as a payment of a debt. For the 2 brothers, this was the sign to start their own Port house. Their goal was to make the best Port wine of he Douro Valley. This moment was the start of the famous Graham’s Port house.

port wine lodge cellar grahams fortified famous porto vila nova de gaia scotish
“Vineyards owned by themselves”

Graham’s is one of the first Port houses who invested in his own vineyards at the end of the 19th century. Now they have 4 Quintas with the vineyards under their wings. They only work with vineyards owned by themselves.

“The Symington family”
port wine symington family estates fortified vinho famous portugal north

Already from the very beginning period, since 1882, the Symington family already had a connection with Graham’s. Andrew James Symington traveled to Porto to work in the company. The harvest of 1970 was the first year under the Symington family. Today the company is led by 5 Symington cousins who are personal responsible for all the aspects of the company and the high quality. Graham’s is part of the Symington Family Estates, as well as 3 other Port houses.

Why to choose Graham’s Port?

Graham’s is known for its high quality and have the whole process in his own hands. From the grape cultivation, to storing the wines in the lodge and finally ship the wonderful famous wines to the clients.

“Six Grapes”

One of the most famous and special Port wines in Graham’s range is “Six Grapes”. The Six Grapes-Port is a young bottled Vintage-style and it also is needed to drink young.

4 – Ferreira

“Always stayed Portuguese”

Ferreira is the only Port house that always stayed Portuguese. Founded by Portuguese winemakers from the Douro Valley itself and it is famous for Dona Antónia Ferreira. At this moment, Ferreira is the main reference in Port wine and a symbol of quality, tradition and knowledge.

port wine ferreira porto house fortified logo douro river valley

Since

Founded by

Quinta

1751

Ferreira family of Régua

Quinta do Porto

About

A family of winemakers out of Régua founded a wine company in 1751, the Ferreira family. They were a producer and trader of Port wines in the Cima Corgo. The family always had a focus on high quality wines.

port house ferreira port famous wine portuguese house lodge vila nova de gaia
“A Ferreirinha, Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira”
porto port wine dona ferreira antonia house famous fortified most popular douro river valley

In the 19th century, the Douro Valley was confronted with a lot of difficulties. The Portuguese businesswoman Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira introduced some important innovations to fight against these difficulties. She was known for her strength and this gave her the nickname “a Ferreirinha”.

“Sogrape Vinhos”

Since 1987, the Sogrape Vinhos Company acquired Ferreira. They respected the tradition, family culture and increased the Ferreira brand. Today, it is known as “The Portuguese Brand” and a huge reference in Port wines.

port wine tawny small barrels ferreira logo vinho

Why to choose Ferreira Port?

Ferreira is the reference in Port wines and a symbol of quality. This already is a very good reason to give Ferreira a try. Also a wine tasting tour in this traditional house is a good idea. That is the ideal way to discover it all by yourself and create your own opinion.

5 – Sandeman

“Most famous name”

Sandeman is the Port house with the most famous name in the world of Port wine. A Scottish family who started a wine company in the Douro valley at the end of the 18th century. It is one of the most leading houses in fortified wines and Sherry. But, Sandeman is not the brand with the most sales. That honor belongs to another Port house.

port wine logo sandeman house famous fortified douro valley

Since

Founded by

Quinta

1790

George Sandeman

Quinta do Seixo

About

The history of Sandeman started by a young ambitious man of 25 years old son of a Scottish cabinetmaker. His name was George Sandeman. George Sandeman asked his father a loan of 300 GBP to start a wine merchant company. From the beginning, George specialised his company immediately in the most famous fortified wines of Portugal. This led to the start of the Port house Sandeman. Very soon, he gained an important reputation, which still is very characteristic for the house of Sandeman these days.

port wine famous fortified wine sandeman house lodge cellar logo douro river valley portugal
“Name the barrels”

It wasn’t always normal to ship the Port wine in bottles. There was a time that they were shipped in barrels. Sandeman was the first brand who marked these barrels with the initials of their name. With a hot iron the letters GSC, of George Sandeman and Co., were marked as a pioneering signature in the barrels. This was to give a guarantee of the quality and origin.

porto wine port taste sandeman tour travel portugal vila nova da gaia

Why to choose Ferreira Port?

The reputation of the brand is a very good reason to choose for Sandeman. Sandeman is a big name in the world of Port wine. But of course, they also bring a very high quality of their product.

6 – Gran Cruz

“Number 1 in selling Port wine”

Gran Cruz is the house of the famous Porto Cruz. At this moment, it is the house which sells the most Port wine worldwide. They are known for their knowledge, different styles of Port wine and they are very popular in Porto itself.

port house fortified wine gran cruz porto 1887 douro

Since

Founded by

Quinta

1887

No information

Quinta de Ventozelo

About

Gran Cruz is the house of the famous Porto Cruz. This house has a unique quality and creates special ports of very high quality. Gran Cruz also is known for his Pink Porto. Gran Cruz is the largest seller of Port wine worldwide. These days, they are part of a french group La Martiniquaise.

port house gran cruz porto vinho wine famous fortified brandy terrace douro river
“Famous in Porto”

In Porto itself, this is a very famous Port house. For many locals, it still is the real Port house of the city. Because his long Portuguese tradition and experience, high know-how and very high quality. With the Quinta de Ventozelo, Gran Cruz also has one of the oldest Quinta’s in the Douro Valley.

“Visit in Vila Nova de Gaia”

Unfortunately, Gran Cruz is one of the Port houses where you can’t visit the lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia. But, a visit at the Gran Cruz House is a must do on your Porto trip. Here you can visit the museum and enjoy a drink and good food at the rooftop with a wonderful overview over the Douro river, Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Finally, there also is the Hotel Gran Cruz House. So, stay a little bit longer over there also is an option.

Why to choose Gran Porto Cruz Port?

Like the others, Gran Cruz has a large family tradition. They also have a very high level of know-how and make Port wines for everyone: from the cheaper ones, to the highest expensive and even a pink variant. The last reason is because it has a unique connection with the city Porto itself.



These 6 houses are just some of the many wine houses of Port wine to visit. Other famous wine houses also are Ramos Pinto, Niepoort, Cálem, Vasconcellos and Cockburn’s.


A protected famous fortified wine product

“Call not every fortified wine a Port wine”

Port wine, the famous fortified wine out of the Douro Valley, is a protected product. You may not call every fortified wine a Port wine. Even if it also is made in the Douro Valley. The wine house has to follow some important rules. The list below summarize these rules.

Regulation of the trade of the famous Port wine

“Regulation since 1756”

Under the influence of the Taylor’s Port house and the Marquês de Pombal, there came a regulation in the Port trade in 1756. They started with a monopoly company to set high quality requirements for the trade of Port wine. Marquês de Pombal is known as the father of these regulations. This was the start of the Instituto do Vinho do Porto, which is now known as Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP).



Rules to make the most famous fortified wine

“Rules to be a Port Wine”

There are important rules so that the fortifited wine of the winemaker can be called a Port wine. In this list, we give you 5 important rules of becoming a legal Port Wine.

1 – IVDP

First of all, the wine house has to be member of the IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto). At the top of the bottle, you will see the seal of guarantee with the member number of the wine house. If this label is not present on the bottle,you don’t have an official Port wine.

2 – Douro Valley

Maturing of the grapes must take place on vineyards in the Douro Valley. More specifically in one of the three regions mentioned earlier in this post. This determines a specific taste and quality of the final Port wine.

3 – 19% to 22%

When the ideal sugar level is reached, a brandy is added to stop the fermentation process. This process makes it a fortified wine. It is important to reach a final alcohol percentage between 19% and 22%.

4 – Vila Nova de Gaia

The lodge, the cellar, to store the wine for aging has to be in Vila Nova de Gaia. The town at the other side of the Douro river as the city center of Porto.

5 – Aged for 2 years

In the lodge, the fortified wine must be aged during a minimum of 2 years in barrels before release. Additionally, the wine house isn’t allowed to sell mare than 30% of their wine after 2 years. With this rule, they are “encouraged” to age their wines for more years.


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Elvas

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Discover the country of the most western discoverers of Europe

Elvas

“An UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city”

“Uma cidade fortificada Alentejana listada pelo UNESCO”

Elvas: an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city

Discover Elvas, an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city, in the region Alto-Alentejo and near the Spanish border. Elvas played a crucial role in the Portuguese and Spanish history. Its strategic mountain made it a significant military spot. Immerse yourself in the rich history of this small Alentejo city by reading this blog post.

keywords:

#elvas, #portalegre, #unesco, #alentejo, #altoalentejo, #fortified

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Information

Region:

District:

Nearest large city:

Distance to district capital:

Alto-Alentejo

Portalegre

Portalegre

58 km

Location keywords:

Alto-Alentejo, Unesco, fortified

A city of many forts

“Strategic military forts”

As already told above, Elvas is a fortified UNESCO World Heritage city in the Alentejo with a strategic location. Close to Spain and higher situated, it was a crucial military place to protect the whole region. Elvas played a vital role in the 17th century Independence War against the Spanish. Numerous forts with a military function were built. These also served as a military base during the 19th century French invasions. So, these buildings already survived many wars and historical facts. Explore the rich history of this city and its historic forts in the text below.

elvas forte santa luzia fortified far view

Fort Nossa Senhora de Graça

“The largest Fort”

2 Forts are possible to visit around the city. Forte Nossa Senhora de Graça is the largest one, at the Northern side. The double walls are very famous and this fort is known as the best preserved of its kind in Europe. From the air, you have a great view on this fort. See the first image below. While the other image is taken from the castle of Elvas.

elvas fort nossa senhora graça fortified unesco city air view alentejo
elvas alentejo forte nossa senhora graça large unesco fort

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Fort Santa Luzia

“The southern smaller fort”

At the southern side of Elvas, you discover Forte Santa Luzia. This is smaller as the previous one. But these days, Forte Santa Luzia is the place to be to feel feel more the military history of the whole region of Elvas. A museum where you expire the history is located in this fort. Don’t miss it out.

elvas forte santa luzia view unesco
elvas forte santa luzia unesco small fort top mountain

The fortified castle of Elvas

“The military location inside the fortified city”

Finally, we are inside the city boundaries of Elvas. Discover here the castle of Elvas. It is a typical Portuguese castle built on the top of a mountain and with military protection purposes. Unlike castles in other countries, these castles are more as forts, with the lack of splendor and grandeur but with a lot of strength and security. The castle of Elvas is no exception. Its thick walls and large tower show you this fortification to protect both the city and the surrounding region. Take a walk along the castle walls for breathtaking panoramic views over the Alentejo and the two forts located outside of the city center.

Elvas still has a surrounding wall of around 10 km long. Seen from in the air, you get a view that the wall around Elvas and also the 2 forts are built in a star. The star concept makes these forts stronger and is a reason why Elvas is an UNESCO-listed fortified Alentejo city.

elvas fortified castle militar city wall unesco alentejo portugal
elvas castle fortified city wall unesco city militar

A medieval city center

“Charming small streets”

Aside of these forts and the military history, Elvas is a nice place to visit. Like many place in the Portugal, Elvas still has a medieval city center with small winding streets and cobblestones. A charm to walk through these streets. Do it for yourself and decide for yourself. You’ll love it.

elvas main square view fortified unesco city center
elvas small street unesco city view alentejo

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Don’t wait any longer

Now it is time to visit Elvas. Don’t wait any longer! Click on the buttons below to find your perfect flights to Portugal and/or hotel in this medieval fortified UNESCO city. Discover the Alentejo. Go for it!

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Amoreira Aqueduct

“Water is important for life”

When you arrive in Elvas, you see the impressive aqueduct. But, unfortunately, it is not from the Romans. This aqueduct was built in the 16th – 17th century and designed by the same architect of the aqueduct of Évora and the Torre de Belém.

elvas amoreira unesco city aqueduct water source

More water

“More people, more water”

Initially, Elvas’ residents traditionally sourced their drinking water from the episcopal palace water source, dating back to the Moorish era. However, with the growth of the population, this water source became insufficient. So, they needed a good extra water source. A solution for this was the construction of an aqueduct. This impressive aqueduct is 7 km long and counts more than 800 arches. Since 1910 it is classified as a national monument.

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Sericaia

“The sweet dessert of the Alentejo”
elvas sericaia serica cerica dessert sweet doce plum food delicious cake

Now it is time to discover some gastronomic delights of the Alentejo region. Because it is known for its exceptional cuisine in Portugal. According the most Potuguese locals, here you find the finest wines and savor the most delicious regional dishes, including the simple but irresistible desserts. One of the most famous Alentejo desserts is Sericaia. Some call it Sericá or Cericá. It is a cake with eggs and cinnamon. The traditional variant originates from Elvas and Vila Viçosa and is topped with a succulent local plum. It is a must-try and so delicious! We love it, you to? We’re sure you’ll do.

How to reach?

By car

Traveling by car to Elvas is in my opinion the most easy way. Many highways and national roads lead to Elvas. So, you can take a Toll way or a route without paying Toll.

“Lisboa – Évora – Elvas”

From Lisboa, you take the Vasco da Gama bridge and afterwards follow the A6 over Évora to reach Elvas. Keep in mind that this is a Toll-road. I advise you to use Via Verde. If you don’t want to pay toll, the N4 national road also is a possible option.

“Portalegre – Elvas”

Elvas is part of the Portalegre district, with the capital Portalegre. Also from here you have good roads to bring you everywhere in the region.

“Spain”

From Elvas, discover the beauty of the nearby Spanish city Badajoz. You drive there in around 30 minutes. Explore also this fascinating city on a day trip. Keep in mind that Badajoz is located in Spain and follows the Spanish timezone. So, it is 1 hour later over there. When you travel back to Portugal, it is possible to have the same time twice a day. Isn’t it cool? Experience the unique thrill of time travel when you visit this region.

By bus

Explore Portugal’s landscapes traveling by the huge Rede Expressos network, covering almost the whole country. Arrive in Elvas or travel to from the local bus station. Experience the authentic Portuguese way of travel by taking the a bus. It is a must-do for every traveler. Immerse yourself in the local life and travel like the locals do, who frequently rely on this huge bus system. I only can suggest you, traveling in Portugal by a fast bus is something you have to do once.

By train

Elvas features a train station with connections to Lisboa and Entroncamento in the Santarém district. Although it will be a long travel day and there are not so many trains on these routes. Plan your trip by checking the timetables and connections on CP. Get more accurate information and plan your way to Elvas by train.

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Also Rome2rio is a good site to see how you can travel. There you get an overview of the travel options and prices for almost each place in the world. Give it a try.


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June Festivities

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June Festivities

“Celebrate and connect together”

“Festeje e conecte juntos”

Celebrate and connect together in June

June is the month to celebrate and connect together. Experience the spirit of unity in Portugal, where a lot of festivities take place from the north to the south and from the west coast to the east. Portugal comes to life in June with a lot of memorable party events. Check out our comprehensive list of the top festivities and join the celebration. So, join us and let’s celebrate and connect together in June.

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#santospopulares, #festivities, #santoantonio, #saintjohn, #saintpeter, #saintpaul

Estimated read time: 8 minutes
june festivities festival bars alfama atmosphere celebrate connect together

The National Day of Portugal

June 10 : Connect with Camões

june festivities 10 junho dia de portugal
“The national day, Camões and the Portuguese community”

First, we start with the only non-catholic event in this list. June 10, is the Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese community. Or in Portuguese: “O Dia de Portugal, de Camões e da communidade portuguesa”. Or in other words, this is the National Day of Portugal. Commemorate the rich history and heritage of Portugal by joining the National Day of Portugal. Don’t miss out this exciting opportunity to celebrate Portugal’s culture and community.

“A tribute to Luís de Camões”

Aside of the national day, it is a tribute to the great Portuguese poet Luís de Camões. He died on June 10, 1580. Luís de Camões wrote the most famous Portugal’s epic work: “Os Lusíadas”.

“Dia da Raça”

Previously, in the period of the “Estado Novo”, from 1933 till the Carnation Revolution in 1974, this day was to celebrate the Portuguese race. In this dictatorial period, they called it as “Dia da Raça: a raça portuguesa ou dos portugueses”.

Every year, another city is the home of the huge celebrations. The President of Portugal will be present in this city for the tribute with a lot of parades.


The Popular Saints

“Os Santos Populares”

June 12 : The day before Saint Anthony

“The brides of Santo António”
june festivities 12 junho brides of santo antonio saint anthony marriages

The day before Saint Anthony, 12 June, is marked with the famous marriages of Saint Anthony. Also known as “The Brides of Saint Anthony”, or in the Portuguese language “As Noivas de Santo António”.

“16 Wedding couples”

Experience the magic of love as 16 lucky couples take part in the Weddings of Saint Anthony. These couples make their weddings unforgettable by participating in this prestigious event, which is broadcasted live on the Portuguese television RTP. So, all the couples become famous in the country due to their wedding. This high-profile event takes place in the Camera Municipal of Lisboa and afterwards in the Sé of Lisboa, the Cathedral of Lisboa.

June 13 : Celebrate Saint Anthony

“The Saint Anthony Marches”

June 13, this maybe is the most important day during the Festas dos Santos Populares. IFor the Portuguese community, it is the time to celebrate and connect together with Saint Anthony, Santo António. Saint Anthony is born in Lisboa on August 15, 1193 or 1195. His year of birth is not certain. He died on 13 June, 1231 in Padua. So this is a tribute on the day of his death.

“Patron of the people”

Saint Anthony is the patron of Portugal and the second patron of Lisboa. He is revered as the patron of weddings, couples, family, pregnant women, poor and oppressed people and for lost objects. So, Saint Anthony is the saint of all good things, born in Lisboa and has a name day at the beginning of the summer. What do you think must he have more in a South-European Catholic country? So, Santo António is the patron chosen by the people themselves. The Lisboetas are so proud on their patron that they celebrate the whole month of June. Come and join these huge parties to get a memorable impression of the real Portuguese culture and lifestyle.

june festivities atmosphere largo square connect together
“Events anywhere in the city”

Join the huge colorful celebrations of Saint Anthony in Lisboa. This is the moment to immerse yourself in the real Portuguese culture. On June 13, there are a lot of marches through the city. They start from the many neighbourhoods, going to the Avenida Liberdade and so in the direction of Rossío. Colors, dancing, music and joy, you’ll all find it here. Don’t miss them, be there and immerse yourself in the typical Portuguese atmosphere. Discover the vibrant colors and energy of Lisbon’s famous neighbourhoods. Enjoy delicious food and drinks at the typical squares. Finally celebrate and connect together with the locals the whole night long.

june festivities castle sao jorge santo antonio saint anthony celebrate together
“Saint Anthony comes out of his church”

Also, another famous marche is the Saint Anthony marche. Santo António comes out of his church in the Alfama. This church is built on his birthplace.

“Sardinhas, sardinhas, sardinhas”

Famous food in this period are “Grilled Sardines” with a little bit bread and a beer. Enjoy! Also Bifanas is a very popular streetfood. Finally, you have to go for a cup of Ginja!

“Typical atmosphere”

The neigbourhoods with the most atmosphere are: Alfama, Mouraria, Graça and Bica. These neighbourhoods are decorated with full of color, bars and places where locals grill their famous sardinhas.

june festivities fado restaurant color gerlands
june festivities together party festival gerlands streets
june festivities alfama celebrate connect together junho santos populares

Be prepared to sing, dance and enjoy yourself a whole night long!

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June 24 : Connect together with São João

“The saint closest to Christ”

This is the birth date of São João Batista, Saint John the Baptist. So, this day, they celebrate the saint who stood the closest to Christ. He was the first to recognize Christ as the Messiah. It is more in the north of the country that they celebrate São João, especially in Porto.

“Plastic hammers”

The way to celebrate is parallel with these of Saint Anthony. In the typical neighbourhoods, there also are traditional parties with a lot of color and happiness. The best atmosphere can be found in the Miragaia, Ribeira with the Sé (Cathedral) and Fontainhas. In the past, the revelers beat each others with leeks. Now, they use plastic hammers for this unique tradition.

june festivities porto balloon hot air connect celebrate together
june festivities atmosphere santos populares celebrate connect together
“Hot air balloons and fireworks and morning bath”

The headline of this festival is at the midnight from June 23 to June 24. At that moment, you have to be at the Douro river. There are a lot of fireworks on the river and they release many colorful hot air balloons. So, take a drink and look for a nice place near the river for this wonderful spectacle.

Finally, a lot of people go to the beach to see the sunrise or to take a “morning bath” in the Atlantic Ocean. This is very traditional.

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June 29 : Celebrate together with 2 Saints

“2 Saints together”

The last popular saint they celebrate in June is São Pedro, Saint Peter. June 29 is the day of his death. But, this day has 2 famous saints. It also is known as the day of Saint Paul. Recognized as 2 of the most celebrated saint in the Catholic Church, Saint Peter and Saint Paul are often remembered together. On June 29, Catholic people pay homage to both their impact on religion and spirituality. Many churches are dedicated to both these saints together. Saint Peter was a disciple of Jesus and a fisherman. So, the most places at a coastline on the world have a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter. The first Pope of the Catholic Church, took his name as a nickname.

“Other regions”

Saint Peter is more celebrated elsewhere over the country. Popular places for Saint Peter Festivals are Sintra and Évora, 2 famous UNESCO places. Since the 19th century, they celebrate 2 saints in Évora. Already from the 16th century, the festival of Saint John is the greatest in the southern part of Portugal. Also on the islands Madeira and the Azores, they have festivals for the Santos Populares.

Conclusion

“Color, food and happiness are common”

All these open air festivities have the following aspects in common:

june festivities manjerico basil plant conect together
  • Colorful marches through the city
  • Streets full of color, party garlands, bars and happiness
  • Eat and drink good streetfood everywhere
  • Give a little sort of Basil plant “Manjerico” to your friend or girlfriend with a message about love, happiness or good luck
  • Jump over bonfire

LGBTIQ+ pride

lgbtiq+ rainbow color connect together
“There is a place for everyone”

Yes, oh yes! Also Lisboa has his own pride for the LGBTIQ+ community. This mostly is around half or the second part of June. The end point of this pride is at Praça do Comércio, at the Tagus river.


Now it is up to you to celebrate

“Time to celebrate and connect together in June”

Finally, now it is up to you! It is time to celebrate and connect together in June in Portugal. Choose your most preferred festival and enjoy your time with color, happiness, good food and a lot of joy. Be happy, have fun and feel the Portuguese culture, passion and hospitality!


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Castelo de Almourol

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Castelo de Almourol

“A Templar castle in the Tagus river”

“Um castelo Templário no rio Tejo”

A well preserved Templar castle in the Tagus river

This well preserved military castle is situated on a strategic tiny island in the Tagus river, in the Ribatejo region. Almourol is a place in Vila Nova da Barquinha. The castle is very good conserved with a lot of history and on the place where 2 rivers connects together. In this form, Almourol Castle dates from 1171, but his fundamentals already are from the 3th century. The castle became part of the Ordem dos Templários and finally is restored in the 19th century. This post below is for you, when you want to learn the whole history and why you have to visit this wonderful castle.

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#almourol, #castle, #templar, #castelo, #ribatejo

Estimated read time: 4 minutes
almourol tagus river tamplar castle tiny island water blue boat

Location of this castle

“A tiny island in the middle of the Tagus river”

Welcome in the district of Santarém. At the Praia do Ribatejo, in Vila Nova da Barquinha, you’ll find a tiny island in the middle of the Tejo river. An island that measures only 310m x 75m. This houses a wonderful and well preserved castle: The Castle of Almourol.

almourol templar castle tagus river island
almourol tagus river overview
almourol tagus river view island
“A military strategic location”

The strategic location of this tiny island in the Tagus river, near the mouth of the Zêzere river, always was very important. This is the reason why this castle always had a military function to protect the region and old capital of Portugal: Coimbra. It is built on a granite outcrop 18 meters above the water level.


The history from a fort to a Templar castle

almourol castle green island templar portugal
almourol tiny island green corner walk
“Always important for many peoples in history”

The place of this castle was already owned by different folks, starting from the 3th century: the Alans, the Visigoths and the Moorish people. These last owned the place starting from the 8th century. They already built a fortification and called it Al-morolan (High stone).

almourol templar castle tagus river view tiny island

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“The Christian Reconquest”

During the Christian reconquest on the Iberian Peninsula, the region of the castle was occupied by the Portuguese forces. In 1129, the fortification of Almourol was conquered by D. Afonso Henriques and afterwards was handed over to the Templars (Ordem dos Templários). Because the Templars had the control over the region between the Mondego and Tagus rivers and to protect Coimbra, which was the capital of Portugal in these times. This region was very important for olive oil, wheat, pork meat, fruits and wood.

almourol templar castle middle tower inner view blue sky
almourol inner castle view templar moorish preserved
almourol templar castle history island tagus river inner view
“Characteristics and symbols in the Templar castle”

From now on, it became a castle with the typical characteristics and symbols of the Templa’s. The castle is marked by 9 towers and 1 higher tower in the middle. In the window to the east, there is a Templar cross. These rebuilds ended in 1171, 2 years after the built of the Castle/Convent of Tomar was finished. So, it has equal characteristics, even as the Castles of Idanha, Monsanto, Pombal and Zêzere.


Preservation and a National Monument in the Tagus river

“Damaged and restored”

Due to the earthquake of 1755, which destroyed whole Lisboa, also this castle was damaged. After the reconquest and the capital of Portugal moved from Coimbra to Lisboa, this location lost his need of a military strategic point in the region. So, the castle was a little bit forgotten. restorations were needed to bring this castle back to his glory. During the Romanticism period in the 19th century, there were made more changes to the castle. This was to pass light in a more poetic vision.

“Visit as a National Monument”

The Castle of Almourol is part of the Tourism of the Templars, together with the Castle/Convent of Tomar and the Museum in Vila Nova da Barquinha. Starting from 1910 is a National Monument, like a lot of historical buildings in Portugal. Since 2006, it is possible to visit this castle. It is a must do when you are in this region!

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Pasteis de Nata

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Pastéis de nata

“The most famous Portuguese sweets”

“Os mais famosos doces portugueses”

The famous Portuguese sweet custard tarts

The typical Portuguese custard tarts, pastéis de nata, who doesn’t know them? Sweet pastries made with basic ingredients. What is there origin and how did they become so popular. And why you also have Pastéis de Belém? The post below explains you everything.

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#pasteisdenata, #pasteisdebelem, #custardtart, #pastries, #gastronomy

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

What are the famous Portuguese sweet custard tarts?

Delicious sweet pastry

“Tastes best with a little bit cinnamon”
pasteis de nata canela cinnemon pastel pastry custard tart sweet

Pastel de nata, or in plural pastéis de nata, our the most popular pastries of Portugal. A little custard tart with egg yolks, sugar, flour and milk in puff pastry. That is the basic of pastel de nata. It tastes the best topped with a little bit cinnamon. But if you like more to add sugar on it, or nothing, that also is possible. Also, a great pastel de nata, you eat fresh out of the oven and a little bit lukewarm. Of course, it is so delicious to accompany it with a Portuguese expresso. In our post about coffee, you can select your favorite coffee.

Where does these famous sweet Pastéis de nata come from?

The history starts in the monastery of Belém

“The original Patéis de Belém”

Now we gonna tell something about the history. The original Pastéis de nata come out of Belém, a large neighbourhood in Lisboa. It all started in the Jerónimos monastery. In the 18th century, it was common to use egg-withes to starching the clothes in convents and monasteries. The egg yolks were not needed. So, what did day than do with it? Well, they made pastries with it.

mosteiro de jeronimos

In Belém they made the Pastéis de nata to gain revenue. In 1834, the monastery closed and the recipe was sold. The Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, who bought the recipe, opened a little bit further as the monastery in 1837. The recipe of these pastéis is a secret and is nowhere written. Only a few cooks have this recipe in their head. Pastéis de Belém is a protected product. So, you may make pastéis de nata and use that name, but you don’t may call them Pastéis de Belém. The taste of the Pastéis de Belém also is different of pastéis de nata. Which ones our the best, I leave up to you to discover.

pasteis de belem calçada fabrica

Where can I buy these sweet pastéis?

“In Belém or a pastelaria”

If you want to taste the real original pastéis, than there only is one option. Go to Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in Belém.

fabrica pasteis de belem building famous sweet custard tard

But of course, you also can taste the pastéis de nata elsewhere in every pastelaria in the Lisboa or in Portugal. In Lisboa, aside of the original in Belém, another large well known company is Maneigaria. Manteigaria has a lot of shops in Lisboa.

manteigaria pasteis de nata fabrica lisbon portugal
pasteis de nata custard tart sweet famous portuguese manteigaria time out market

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