June 30, 2010

Holidays in Portugal

Holidays in Portugal.
If you’re undecided about your next holiday destination, but want to visit a country full of beautiful beaches, fabulous resorts and a distinctive culture and identity, then look no further than Portugal.

Stunning sunshine beams down daily, which makes the Algarve the perfect area to get away to if you want a holiday that consists of relaxing and unwinding. Cheap Algarve holidays boast a selection of resorts that offer everything you could possibly need. The liveliest resort, Albufeira is home to no less than seven beaches and a nightlife that rivals the very best Europe has to offer.

If you prefer to spend your holiday immersing yourself in historical culture and stunning architecture, why not take a city break to Porto or the capital city of Lisbon? The other side of Portugal is obvious to see in these vibrant cities that offer wine lodges, charming restaurants and fantastic shopping.

History is also apparent in Madeira, a gorgeous island off of the Portuguese coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Offering not only a rich historical past, it also differs from mainland Portugal because the landscape is quite simply beautiful. Here you will find breath taking scenery, unbelievable hiking opportunities and an interesting culture all for you to explore.

The diversity of destinations in Portugal makes it a must for British holidaymakers. Whether you want sightseeing, family holidays, stag or hen parties or even a romantic city break, holidays in Portugal provide.

Experience a variety of new things such as water sports, dolphin watching or its speciality - golf. Portugal is home to 15 world class golf courses, so if you’re looking to improve your handicap, Portugal is the essential destination for you.

With such a variety of destinations and experiences, Portugal is the perfect place for your next holiday.

June 25, 2010

Rua da Academia das Ciências Lisbon


Rua da Academia das Ciências is a street in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district. It is very picturesque not only in its ancientness, but – as in many Portuguese cityscapes - in the variety of architectural ages and styles that meld in it.

Rua da Academia das Ciências is worth a visit for three reasons. The first is the institution it is named after: the Academia das Ciências de Lisboa (Sciences Academy of Lisbon). It is housed in the former Convent of Jesus (which still survives in part as the Hospital de Jesus) and was established in 1779. The Convent became home to the academy in 1833. The founding of the Academy was a boon in particular to the study of mathematics in Portugal as its Memoirs were the only journal at that time where mathematicians could publish their research.

The Academy is worth a visit for its huge, awe-inspiring hall and its general atmosphere of scholarly grandeur and noble dedication to fusty causes. It also has the Museu Geológico  (Geological Museum), founded in 1857, Portugal’s first geological and archaeological museum. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm.


Down the other end of the Rua da Academia das Ciências is an institution that, in some senses, couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to the stolid, sedentary Academia in its intent: the Escola Superior de Dança, or the Advanced School of Dance. Yet, in a way, it is sister to the Academia in that dance here is studied in such depth that graduates leave with a bachelor’s degree in the subject.

Then, happily, at 1-1A Rua da Academia das Ciências, where it meets Rua O Seculo (see photo above), next door to the dance school, is Consenso, one of Lisbon’s best restaurants. It is said that personages as exalted as the prime minister patronize this establishment, but for all its chic interior, its new age “earth, air, fire, water” theme, and its exquisite, modern cuisine, it nevertheless manages to be surprisingly affordable. Highly recommended.
Restaurant Consenso
Mon-Sun: 7.30pm - 11:30pm
Rua da Academia das Ciencias 1-1A
Bus no. 92, tram no. 28, Baixa-Chiado subway station.
Tel . 21 346 86 11
http://www.restauranteconsenso.com/eng/home.html

Oh, and one more reason to visit Rua da Academia das Ciências: like almost any backstreet in the Bairro Alto, it is delightfully sleepy and eminently wanderable.

© Portugal Visitor.com

Portugal Holidays

Portugal isn't just the base country for brilliant football players and Port. No, in fact it offers a whole lot more than this. One of the main reasons that thousands of Brit holidaymakers choose it as their destination every year, is because of the fabulous weather that shines on Portugal's beautiful beaches.

Portugal Holidays


The popularity of holidays to the Algarve has grown over the years and it is easy to understand why. Home to every kind of resort you could ever want on a holiday, it offers sun drenched beaches, family-friendly resorts, and a fantastic nightlife – there truly is something for everyone.

If lying in the sun sometimes leaves you feeling restless, why not visit Madeira, Portugal's small island in the Atlantic Ocean, and explore the other side of the country? Madeira boasts heavenly scenery, a history rich with culture and the opportunity to get active with a range of excellent hiking opportunities. The traditional charm that this tiny yet beautiful island offers will remain with you long after you’ve left.

Alternatively, if you fancy yourself as a golf pro, you will be in the right place. Portugal is home to 15 of Europe's best courses, built around rural landscapes and ocean views, the perfect setting to hone your skills.

Portugal Holidays in Porto


Beach holidays, and golf is not all Portugal has to offer. The country is so diverse, so why not try a city break to Porto or the capital city Lisbon? Both cities fuse culture and history, making them ideal destinations for holidaymakers who desire the thrill of a vibrant city. Eat in amazing restaurants and shop in boutiques whilst being surrounded by stunning architecture that gives Portugal such a distinctive identity.

Whatever you hope to get out of your holiday - be it relaxing beach holidays in the Algarve or culturally fuelled breaks, you’ll find it on your holidays to Portugal.

June 24, 2010

Indians in Portugal


The Portuguese people have for hundreds of years formed Europe’s most ethnically and culturally homogenous nation. To be sure, there are various ethnic influences on the population by region, with a Celtic influence in the north, and Arab influence in the south. But these influences are only that, and do not form boundaries.

However, post-colonial Portugal has become more like the rest of Europe in its ethnic composition. Although, even now, compared with neighboring Spain, for example, Portugal’s is a far less complex situation.

The biggest ethnic minority now is African: mainly from the former colony of the Cape Verde Islands. It is estimated to number about 200,000. The majority of Portuguese Africans lives in the greater Lisbon area – mostly in circumstances considerable less comfortable than those in general of the Caucasian population.

Another sizeable ethnic minority in Portugal is Indian. There are estimated to be about 60,000 in Portugal –mainly in greater Lisbon and Porto, but in Algarve, Coimbra, Guarda, and Leiria, too.

Many Gujaratis came from Mozambique once Portuguese rule ended there in 1974. They formed the Gujarati vanguard, Gujaratis from India also immigrating to Portugal from the 1980s. While Mozambique Gujaratis are typically successful in business, it tends to be the Gujaratis from India who are involved in bigger enterprises, mostly trade and commerce, as well as manufacturing and the hospitality industry.

Goa was given independence from Portugal in 1961. Indians in Goa were already at the top of the socio-economic pyramid there and it was they who immigrated to Portugal in considerable numbers. Mozambique also had a sizable population of ethnic Goans, who typically held administrative positions, many of whom immigrated to Portugal in 1974 with the granting of independence.

Nevertheless, while Indians are in evidence in Lisbon (see photo above) and other cities, there is little in the way of obvious Indian businesses, least of all Indian restaurants of which, sadly, there is a dearth.

© Portugal Visitor

June 23, 2010

Rua Augusta Lisbon


Rua Augusta, in the Baixa area of Lisbon, is the city’s main pedestrian and shopping street. Closed to traffic, it runs all the way from the Praça do Comércio up to the Praça de Dom Pedro IV (AKA “Rossio”), a length of 550 meters.

Being a walkway, it is also a route where pedestrians are constantly being offered things – especially round the arch joining it to Praça do Comércio. Craftsmen peddle African wooden carvings or South American leatherwork or Middle Eastern metalwork, scarves, and jewelry; stalls stock souvenir T-shirts, cheap sunglasses, paintings, hot chestnuts, flowers; and street artists, musicians, and anyone else with anything to try and charm you with do their best to attract you and your coins.

At 89 Rua Augusta is the famous Travellers House Lisbon, one of the city’s best hostels with its modernity, cleanliness, spaciousness and sociability.

Just a little further along, at no. 110 Rua Augusta, on the corner of Rua Augusta and Rua de Sao Nicolau, is the Sao Nicolau Cafeteria (see photo) where there are some delicious pastries to be had.

Rua Augusta is the most accessible of Lisbon grand boulevards, and is where you can interact with the people of the city, view a thousand different products from the tawdry to the ritzy, and a lot of splendid architecture – all at your own pace.

© Portugal Visitor

June 20, 2010

Pena Palace and Gardens


Pena Palace in the town of Sintra is famous as Europe’s most Romantic-style castle – which is of little surprise, considering that its present state dates from the mid-19th century when Romanticism was at its height.


Pena Palace began in the 14th century as a small chapel built on a hill, dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. Years later, St. Jerome’s monastery was added. In the 18th century the monastery was first struck by lightning, and then, more seriously, by the 1755 Great Lisbon Earthquake. The chapel, by contrast, survived virtually intact.


The king consort in the mid-19th century, Ferdinand II, was a German by birth. He was charmed and fascinated by this little chapel and the ghostly ruins of the monastery, so acquired the site and set out rebuilding what had been the old monastery as a royal summer residence.



The job of designing the new palace was given to the amateur German architect, Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, and construction took place from 1842 to 1854. King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II also had extensive say in the design. The vault arches, and the Islamic and Medieval aspects of the design are among the features ordered by the royal couple.




Architecturally it is a potpourri of styles spanning many continents and ages from Gothic, to Renaissance, to Moorish.

Pena Park was created around the Palace at the same time. Ferdinand II’s vision for the park was a blend of wild tropical forests and the grand woods of Germany. So, like the Palace, it is an eclectic, but wonderfully integrated, construct of flora from all over the world, including North America, China, Japan, and, for fern and tree ferns, Australia and New Zealand.



It became the property of the Portuguese State in 1889, and a national monument after the 1910 Republican Revolution.



The photos from this visit to Pena Palace and Gardens were taken on a rainy day, which, with the soft mysteriousness of the muted colors and darkened corners, captures the inspiration behind the royal fantasy that gave birth to this magical site in Sintra.



©  Portugal Visitor.com

June 15, 2010

The Bemposta Monstrance

A Lisbon museum that anyone with any appreciation of art and crafts must visit is the National Museum of Ancient Art, (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga) on the Rua das Janelas Verdes.

The range of art on display in the museum is very wide, covering not only paintings, but ceramics, textiles, furniture, and metalwork.



One highlight of the metalwork on display is the famous Bemposta Monstrance of Belem. This amazing 97cm high incarnation of opulent ornateness was created in Portugal in the 18th century, about 1775–80, by Adam Gottlieb Pollet from silver-gilt, diamonds, rubies, topazes, emeralds, sapphires, rock crystals and amythests - mostly from the treasure trove that was Brazil.

The unquestioned authority of a Church with as much wealth, power (and time) on its hands to create something as uncompromisingly majestic as this is almost as impressive as the object itself. And of course, viewing it somewhat in isolation as you do in the Museum you can almost forget that when in use it was just another element in an institution in which that opulence extended in every direction.

Oh come all ye faithless!

© Portugal Visitor

June 6, 2010

Museu da Marioneta Lisbon


The Museu da Marioneta, or Puppet Museum, of Lisbon, is a true labor of puppetry love, launched by the puppeteer group Companhia de Marionetas de São Lourenço in 1987.

The permanent collection of the museum includes a lot more than just Portuguese puppetry, but reaches right back to the roots of puppetry in its retelling of the history of the art from stages around the world, particularly Asia.


The museum's collection features masks, puppets, techniques, posters, clothing and stage props – again, with a lot more than just Portuguese puppets, but devoted, of course, to their irresistible magic.


The Museum has special exhibitions, advertised on the Puppetry Museum website (unfortunately not regularly updated in English.)

Convento das Bernardas - Rua da Esperança, nº 146
Lisbon, Portugal, 1200-660
Phone:
213942810
Tue - Sun:
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

© Portugal Visitor