|With such an extensive sea coast, it is not surprising that Portugal has witnessed so many achievements in sailing and arrivals. This is why we have been open to the world and to communication for so long. We have assimilated people of different origins: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans (who left us our language), northern Europeans and people from Mauritania. Despite all these mixtures, Portugal is one of the oldest nations in Europe.|
In the 12th century, the country gained its independence from other kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula thanks to Count Afonso Henriques, who was our first king in his own will. A century later, with the conquest of Algarve, Portugal finally established its continental border. In the late 13th century, King Dinis founded our first 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 Azores and Madeira, which are part of our territory in the Atlantic.
|After a dynastic crisis and a period under the rule of the Spanish crown, a Portuguese king took the throne once more in 1640, because, although we are discrete, we have a strong sense of independence. In the 18th century, King João V, an absolutist monarch and a patron of the arts, built a huge palace and convent in Mafra and the great aqueduct that supplied Lisbon’s 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.|
We have been members of the EU since 1986, though we still value our own virtues. From this brief history, you will understand that our art is a little different from what you already know. Note some of the peculiarities, especially the “Manueline” style (which exalted the age of the discoveries), the way we have learned to work with tiles in our architecture and Fado, our songs of nostalgia.
Traditions of Portugal
|On the Northwest coast of Portugal, the profound connection between man and land is marked by the culture of vines. It has been like that for nearly two thousand years. However, nowadays “Vinho Verde” is not just made by the traditional method.|
Throughout many generations, man has come to know the secrets of the soil and the climate, to select grape varieties, combat vine pests, develop modern and more efficient ways of cultivation and thus, create the body and soul of one of the great Portuguese Wines.
As a result of this accumulated knowledge, “Vinho Verde” is as fresh and soft as the landscape, aromatic like heather that grows in the thicket, unique as the culture and daily bread of people of the Northwest, one of the most unique regions of the country.
|Minho is the Portuguese region where folklore is more alive, diversified and colorful. The dances and songs which characterize it are today an admirable touristic attraction, due to the joy of men and women from Minho, which is reflected in the traditional dances with unmatched beauty.|
Out of all the dances, from the “verdegares” to the “fandangos”, passing by “chulas”, “malhões” and “caninhas-verdes”, the one which characterizes folklore from Minho the best is the “vira”, due to its rhythm and vibration which is conveyed by the graceful, exuberant and rhythmic sounds of the traditional music played by drums, “violas braguesas”, triangles, “cavaquinhos” and concertinas. No one remains indifferent to this hymn celebrating life, joy and the harmony between the world and nature.
|A land of hard-working and friendly people, traditions and history, Braga (Green Coast) knows how to welcome its visitors offering them the typical gastronomy of the region, which is a product of the collective talent of Minho.|
According to the Portuguese writer Fialho de Almeida (19th century), “nobody created that style of cooking, but it was rather invented by everybody”. The diversity of the natural landscape and the influences brought on by other cultures make up the elements that create a festival of subtle flavors and scents in Minho’s cuisine.
Minho is mostly fond of codfish in bits cooked in different ways, holding the names of restaurants which cook it: “Margarida da Praça”; “Mira Penha”; “Miquelina”, “Narcisa”.
In Braga there is something very typical, although copied everywhere: duck rice (rice boiled in water where the duck was previously cooked). Then everything is roasted in the oven with smoked sausage (chouriço) and slices of ham. The diversity of gastronomy in the Minho region makes the difference.
In the city of the Archbishops, the “sarrabulho” has a special touch. It is fundamental to go with the “sarrabulho” and “rojões”, stiffened meat in marinade; the “farinhotes”, filled with pork’s blood and maize flour; the “belouras” (hog casings with flour), or floured, filled only with flour and seasoning; the livers and the “green” (boiled blood) with garlic. Exclusively in Braga are the “frigideiras”, big puff pastries stuffed with beef and pork, quoted as “divine” by Júlio Dinis (Portuguese writer from the 19th century) and used by José Fistula in his gastronomy.
Braga reaches the highest level of originality and refinement in confectionery, with sweets such as: the Abade de Priscos pudding, the “toucinho do céu”(translates as “bacon from heaven”), the “Vieiras”, the “Bolo Rei”, the pilgrimage sweets and Braga’s “fidalguinhos” (dry biscuits to eat with tea), as well as other specialties enriched by a long and popular tradition in confectionery.