History

Hominids have lived in the Iberian Peninsula for a very long time. The history of Portugal can be traced from circa 500,000 years ago, when the region of present-day Portugal was inhabited by Homo heidelbergensis. This makes it to one of Europe´s earliest places of settlements. Homo sapiens arrived in Portugal around 35,000 years ago.

The Roman invaded Portugal 197 BC and ruled the country for almost 600 years. In 711 the Moors, North African Muslims, invaded the Portugal and occupied especially the southern part of Portugal for many years. During the 1200th the trade with England intensified. 1386 was the Treaty of Windsor, a diplomatic alliance, signed between Portugal and England. This alliance is still valid and states a pact of mutual support between the two countries.

Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139 and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter. 1910 Portugal was declared republic after a revolt of military officers.

The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent. Science and knowledge developed rapidly and the country became more and more a leading nation in Europe.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Portugal established the first global maritime empire, becoming one of the world's major economic, political and military powers. Explorers like Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan discovered new areas on earth and Portuguese colonies were established both in west and east. The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history.

A military coup in 1926 installed a dictatorship under Salazar that remained until another coup in 1974. During this time the Portuguese economy developed strongly. After 1974 Portugal has developed to a democracy that is a member of the EU. In the late 2000 Portugal turned into a deep financial crisis. In later the situation considerably has improved thanks to actions taken by the government.

As a result of its exciting history there are many interesting things to discover in Portugal. Old houses, castles and churches, Roman settlements, museums and many historical places gives many fascinating opportunities to explore and learn from one of the most interesting historical areas in Europe.

Festivals and events

Most villages and towns in Portugal have their own traditional festivals and pilgrimage celebrating Portuguese history, religion and culture. Portuguese people in general are good at enjoying life like celebrating, social events and parties. Ponte de Lima is one of the most well-known town when it comes to festivals and events. From April to September something seems to happened almost every week. But even in the rest of the year many events take place. The reason for this is probable a combination of tradition and a very active municipality.

Some of the most popular activities in Ponte de Lima are the Horse Fair and a number of horse competitions on highest level, Corpus Christi when the streets of the town are covered with flowers, food and wine festivals, Vaca das Cordas when a bull is running free in the streets of the town and finally Feiras Novas that is the season final in September when hundred thousands of people visit Ponte de Lima every year for a huge party.

The actual schedule of festivals and events in Ponte de Lima could be found om the oficial webb page of the town. If this isn’t enough you can find many more festivals and events in close towns like Porto, Braga, Guimaraes, Viena do Castelo and Barcelos.

Wines

Northern Portugal are very famous for some of the best wines in the world. Most people know about Port wines and Douro wines. Some people know about the fresh Vino Verde. But there are many more fantastic wines to explore.

Wine making has a long history in Portugal. It was probably the Romans that started to grow wine in Portugal. During the 1200-century the trade with England was intensified. Wine become at that time a very important part of the Portuguese export. 1386 was the Treaty of Windsor, a diplomatic alliance, signed between Portugal and England. This alliance is still valid and states a pact of mutual support between the two countries.

In Portugal wines are made in a very traditional way. When most other wine producing countries standardized and focused on a limited number of “famous” grapes long time ago, Portugal kept the old way of producing wine. Because of this you can still found more than 300 different grapes used for wine production in Portugal. Many villages have their own unique grape. If you really want to explore the history of wine, Portugal is today one of the few places you can find it in.

In the Minho region where Ponte de Lima is situated wine is produced in a very local way. Every village has its own cooperative that support local wine production with knowledge and technology. By traveling around, you have the opportunity to find a huge variety of different wines and taste and buy them in a fantastic surrounding. Most known is the Vino Verde, the “green wine”, that is found in many different styles and tastes.

Just south of the Mino region is the Douro valley situated. Starting in the mountains and reaching the Atlantic Ocean in the beautiful city of Porto. The Douro valley is best known for famous Port wines that are grown and produced here. The names Taylors, Sandeman, Grahams and Churchills is a result of British port wine houses being established in this region. You can taste Port wines in the wine houses in Porto, but we really recommend you to take time to explore the valley itself. Either by car or by an organized boat tour along the Douro river. It is also possible to stay over night at many of the wine houses along the river if you really want to take your time to enjoy this fantastic area.

But the Douro valley is not “just” the Port wines. The Douro wines are today rated as some of the best wines in the world. Tasting red and white Douro wines with traditional Portuguese food is something you shouldn’t miss if you want to investigate the culture of Portugal.

Olive oil

The olive oil from Portugal has the highest quality. In international olive oil competitions Portuguese olive oils is often found in the top. Many experts rank olive oils produced in Portugal as some of the best. Still most people don’t know much about this as the Portuguese olive oil production is rather small in volume compared to the big producers of olive oil from Italy and Spain. If you are interested exploring olive oils of highest quality Portugal is anyhow the place to visit.

Food

Food is an important part in Portuguese life. Portugal has an interesting traditional cuisine mostly made from locally produced ingredients. Around Ponte de Lima there are numerous restaurants. Many of them situated in historical buildings with a fascinating atmosphere. If you prefer an international cuisine there are of course many such restaurants available.

Ceramics

Portugal have a long tradition in ceramics. Many plates, bowls and mugs from different brands sold all over the world are manufactured in Portugal. There are good opportunities to find and buy traditional Portuguese ceramics  in both shops and on local markets.

Textails

Portugal has one of the strongest textile industries in Europe and is well-known for its craftsmanship and expertise in high-quality clothes and home textiles. Because of colonial influences in Brazil, Portugal’s cotton industry took form during the eighteenth century. By importing the necessary machinery from Britain, the Portuguese were able to outfit dozens of factories and set their economy in motion. Today you can find different kind of textiles of highest quality in Portugal. Everything from traditional textiles to the latest fashion.

Art

In Portugal you can find many kinds of interesting art. From classic painters to modern art. The municipality of Ponte de Lima arrange Art ´in Lima in the town during the entire summer. An art exhibition well worth a visit. For the one that really want to explore Portuguese art we recommend a visit in the art museums in Porto.

Another side of Portuguese art is architecture. Two of the most famous architects in the world, Alvaro Siza Viera and Eduardo Souto de Moura, are from Portugal. Traveling around in the country you can find many beautiful buildings designed by them or visit museums and study their works.

Markets

In Ponte de Lima there is a big market every second Monday. The market has a long tradition as it is dated back to 1125. Here you can find many different things from food to cloths. Every second Sunday there is an antique fair in Ponte de Lima where many interesting old things often could be found to a low cost. There are also a number of other markets available in the towns around Ponte de Lima. The market in Barcelos dates back to 1412 and is well worth a visit.