With such a long sea coast, it is not surprising that Portugal
has witnessed so many sailings and arrivals. This is why we have
been open to the world and to communication for so long. We have
assimilated peoples of different origins: Phoenicians, Greeks,
Carthaginians, Romans (who left us our language), northern Europeans
and peoples from Mauritania. In spite of all these mixtures,
Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe. In the 12th
century, the country gained its independence from the other kingdoms
in the Iberian Peninsula thanks to Count Afonso Henriques, who was
our first king at his own wish. A century later, with the conquest
of the Algarve, Portugal was todefinitively establish its
In the late 13th century, King Dinis
founded our university, one of the oldest in Europe, and took it to
the beautiful city of Coimbra. In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries,
the Portuguese were the first Europeans to sail to Africa, the
distant Orient and the heart of South America, from where we brought
a wealth of treasures. Even before advancing along the coast of
Africa, we discovered the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira,
which are part of our territory in the Atlantic.
dynastic crisis and a period under the rule of the Spanish crown, in
1640 a Portuguese king took the throne once more, because, although
we are discrete, we have a strong sense of independence. In the 18th
century, King Joćo V, an absolutist monarch and a patron of the
arts, built a huge palace and convent in Mafra and the great
aqueduct that supplied Lisbons water. In the 19th century, the
monarchy was weakened by clashes between different factions and, in
1910, it was overthrown and Portugal became a republic.
have been members of the EU since 1986, though we still value our
From this brief history, you will see that our
art is a little different from that you already know.
of the peculiarities, especially the "Manueline" style, which
exalted the age of the discoveries, the way we have learned to work
with tiles and our fado, the song of nostalgia.