The country’s extremely rich monumental, artistic and archaeological heritage reflects the different encounters in time and space that have given Portuguese culture its unique characteristics in world terms. In Portugal, amongst its historic centres, archaeological sites, monuments, cultural landscapes and natural landscapes, there are thirteen locations classified by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.
Here, a variety of styles and history overlap with one another, ranging from prehistoric rock drawings to the late baroque, from the cities built by man to the landscapes offered to us by Mother Nature, all of them classified as World Heritage sites.
Enjoy a stroll through the historic centres of the cities. In their streets, you can read the history of the different cultures that have inhabited and transformed them over the years. Discover the traces left in the museum-city of Évora by the Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs, or the medieval origins of Porto’s Historic Centre. Visit the palaces, monasteries, convents and churches of the Historic Centre of Angra do Heroísmo, on the island of Terceira in the Azores, and succumb to the charms of the castle of Guimarães and the historic centre of this city that gave birth to the nation of Portugal. The encounter with other cultures and Portugal’s mastery of the seas in the time of the Discoveries gave birth to Manueline art, named after the king Dom Manuel I.
The Convento de Cristo in Tomar, whose architecture displays features that range from the Romanesque to the Mannerist, was founded in 1162 and centuries later became the headquarters of the religious and military Order of Christ. Take your time observing every detail of the monastery’s famous window and enjoy the great beauty of the Charola (the Templars’ Rotunda).
At the Monastery of Alcobaça, one of the most important abbeys of the Cistercian Order, you will be struck by the grandeur of Gothic architecture, while at one of the most fascinating monuments in Europe, the Monastery of Batalha, you will be astounded by the carefully carved details of the stonework and can listen to the secrets that lie hidden in this remarkable space.
When you get to Lisbon, the Torre de Belém marks the apogee of Portuguese art in the century of the Discoveries, rising up symbolically at the point from which the great ships and caravels set sail on their epic voyages. The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos forms the most remarkable set of monastic buildings from the 16th century in Portugal, and is considered by many to be the supreme example of the Manueline style.
Sintra is one of those places that are full of magic and mystery, where nature and culture have joined together to form a cultural landscape that denotes a perfect symbiosis.
Over the years, the court and the nobles built sumptuous stately homes and palaces all across the hills, surrounded by parks and gardens. In the Upper Douro Wine Region, the long tradition of viticulture has led to the formation of a landscape of exceptional beauty which, with the River Douro at its foot, has been producing wine since time immemorial; it is, of course, from here that the famous Port wine originates.
In the Azores, on the island of Pico, the whims of nature and the determination of man have succeeded in turning the hard basalt rocks and volcanic soil into surprising vineyards, creating a cultural landscape that is unique in the world: the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture.
On the island of Madeira, the prehistoric and exuberant evergreen Laurissilva forest is one of the island’s great natural attractions.
In the Côa valley, you can wend your way through an art gallery that is over 25,000 years old and appreciate at this unique site the world’s largest collection of Palaeolithic figure drawings ever discovered. Seventeen kilometres of art displayed in the open air show the creative genius of our ancestors, from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Iron Age, taking you on a journey through time to the early origins of the history of humankind.