Portugal has a long and varied history. After being invaded and settled by groups as old as the Pre-Celts and the Romans, struggles continued with Visigoths and other Germanic people. In 711 CE, the nation was firmly established.
Portugal is perhaps best known for being the first truly global empire. Its maritime exploration during the early part of the Age of Discovery, the 15th and 16th centuries, provided an influx of wealth through the spice trade. The Joanine era saw more than spices ship through her ports. Gold, wheat, copperware, cloths, tools, wine, and horses were all traded.
Then came centuries of turmoil. From the 17th through the 19th centuries, wars, the loss of colonies, and a lack of participation in the Industrial Revolution saw the nation decline. Then a significant earthquake triggered destruction, fires, and a tsunami that almost completely destroyed Lisbon.
Today Portugal is a striking place for tourism with unique architecture, a sunny climate, and Mediterranean culture. The cuisine is renowned, and fresh seafood spiced with chili and black peppers, saffron and olive oil can be found at inexpensive restaurants.
Students can expand their knowledge base with an artist’s view of Lisbon, Amadora, Cabo da Roca, Sintra, and Cascais. Prepare yourself for Sao Jorge Castle, Belem Tower, Bairro Alto, Alfama, the Carmo Convent, Fado and the nightlife, and that red roof cityscape with the forty full-color photos in Panoramas of Portugal.