Portugal is a country that begs to be explored, with many cities that offer a glimpse into its rich history and culture. While Lisbon may be the most popular destination, there is so much more to discover when you explore the cities of Portugal beyond the capital. Let’s take a closer look at some of Portugal’s historical gems and the cities waiting to be discovered beyond Lisbon.
Porto: A City of Wine and History
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and is known for its stunning historic centre, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also famous for its production of port wine, which is made in the Douro Valley region just outside the city.
One of the best ways to explore Porto is by taking a walking tour of the historic centre. The Ribeira neighbourhood is particularly charming, with its colourful buildings and narrow streets that wind down to the river. The city’s most iconic landmark is the Torre dos Clérigos, a Baroque bell tower that offers panoramic views over the city.
Another must-visit attraction in Porto is the Palácio da Bolsa, a 19th-century neoclassical building that was once the city’s stock exchange. The palace features stunning interiors, including the impressive Arab Room, which is decorated with intricate Moorish-inspired designs.
Coimbra: Portugal’s Oldest University City
Coimbra is a city steeped in history, and is home to Portugal’s oldest university, founded in 1290. The university is a major attraction, with its beautiful Baroque library and ornate academic gowns worn by the students.
The city’s historic centre is another highlight, with its winding streets and medieval buildings. The Sé Velha, or Old Cathedral, is one of the city’s oldest and most impressive buildings, dating back to the 12th century. Another must-visit is the Biblioteca Joanina, a Baroque library housed in the university’s former royal palace.
Braga: A City of Religious and Cultural Significance
Braga is one of Portugal’s oldest cities and has a rich history that dates back to Roman times. The city is known for its religious significance, with many important churches and religious sites located within its boundaries.
One of the city’s most important landmarks is the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary, a Baroque church located on a hill overlooking the city. The church is reached by climbing a monumental staircase of over 600 steps, and the views from the top are truly breathtaking.
Another must-visit attraction in Braga is the Sé Cathedral, a Romanesque church that dates back to the 12th century. The cathedral is home to many important works of art and has a stunning cloister that is not to be missed.
Évora: A City of Ancient Wonders
Évora is a city located in the Alentejo region of Portugal and is known for its rich history and well-preserved ancient landmarks. The city’s most famous attraction is the Roman Temple of Évora, which dates back to the 1st century AD and is one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in Portugal.
Another highlight of Évora is the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, which is located in the Church of St. Francis. The chapel is decorated with the bones of over 5,000 monks and is a macabre but fascinating sight to see.
Finally, be sure to visit the Cathedral of Évora, a Gothic cathedral that dates back to the 12th century. The cathedral features a beautiful cloister and is home to many important works of art.
Explore the Cities of Portugal
While Lisbon is certainly a must-visit destination in Portugal, there are many other cities that offer a glimpse into the country’s fascinating history and culture. From the wine-soaked streets of Porto to the ancient wonders of Évora, Portugal’s historical gems are waiting to be explored. Each city offers its own unique blend of architecture, art, and culture, making them a must-visit for any traveller.
When planning your next trip to Portugal, be sure to consider exploring the cities beyond Lisbon. From the bustling streets of Braga to the ancient landmarks of Coimbra, there is something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your walking shoes, and get ready to discover the historical gems of Portugal.