Portugal City Travel Guide: UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Here is a list and brief description of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal and the year they were inscribed to the list.
The Monastery of Santa Maria d'Alcobaça, north of Lisbon and south of Batalha, was founded in the 12th century by Alfonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal. The Cistercian abbey is a masterpiece of Gothic art. The twin towers of the church were added in the 18th century, only the beautiful main entrance and rose window survive of the original. The interior contains the grandiose tombs of Dom Pedro and Dona Ines. Dom Pedro's father Afonso IV, ordered the murder of his son's mistress Dona Ines, because of her Spanish connections. On assuming the throne, Dom Pedro had his revenge by killing and eating the hearts of two of his lover's murderers. The tombs of Dom Pedro and Ines de Castro lie foot to foot, so that they may both rise at Judgement Day and see each other.
Alto Douro Wine Region (2001)
Wine has been produced by in the Alto Douro (upper Douro) region near Porto for over 2,000 years. Now famed for its main product of port wine, the intricately-terraced landscape has been shaped and cared for by the hand of man over the centuries. The scenic landscape is dotted with quintas (wine-producing estates), churches and small pictureque villages. The panoramas are stunning.
Situated on Terceira in the Azores archipelago, the town of Angra was the capital of the Azores and an important port of call for sailing ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The 400-year-old San Sebastião and San João Baptista fortifications and walls are outstanding examples of military architecture of the period.
The Monastery of the Dominicans of Batalha (Battle Abbey) was built over two hundered years from the 14th-16 centuries to commemorate the Portuguese defeat of the Castilians at the battle of nearby Aljubarrota in 1385. This vast, yet delicately carved limestone masterpiece of Gothic-Manueline art towers over the small town of Batalha. The later Manueline additions to the original Gothic Royal Cloisters are a particular highlight as is Sala do Capitulo, a 15th century chaperhouse with exquisite stained-glass windows.
The Monastery of the Hieronymites, is perhaps Lisbon's most impressive historical building. The vast limestone building in the Gothic-Manueline style was built to commerorate Vasco de Gama's voyage to India in 1498. Work started in 1502 and took 70 years to complete. The nearby Tower of Belém, also built to commemorate Vasco da Gama's expedition and those of other Portuguese mariners, on the spot where they set sail on their voyages of discovery. The 16th century fortress has finely carved details and shields bearing the Templar Cross.
The Côa Valley rock carvings date from the Upper Palaeolithic Period (22,000-10,000 BCE) and were discovered only in 1992 near the sleepy town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa, located in the Beira Alta region near Porto. The thousands of engravings are "the most outstanding example of early human artistic activity in this form anywhere in the world," according to UNESCO. This important discovery of early rock-art was only made during surveys for a new dam which was to flood the area. The engravings include animals, ibex, cattle and horses as well as some human shapes.
Évora dates back to Roman times and after the devasting earthquake of 1755 destroyed much of the rest of the country's architectural heritage, Évora, undamaged, remains the best example of Portugal's "Golden Age". The walled city centered on the 13th century Sé (cathedral), reached its zenith in the 15th century, when the city was the residence of the Portuguese monarchs. A Roman temple and well-preserved bath complex survive, joining a number of palaces, churches and a 16th century aqueduct. Évora's pretty whitewashed houses covered with azulejos and wrought-iron balconies date from the 16th to the 18th century. Évora's architecture influenced later Portuguese buildings in its colony Brazil.
The historic town of Guimarães is closely connected to the formation of Portugal as a state and the Portuguese language in the 12th century. Guimarães' city riches include: a 10th century castle, the Palace of the Duke of Braganca ('Paco Ducal'), the Santa Clara Convent, the Church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira, Gothic arches, the Monesteiro de São Domingos. The building techniques typified in the town were later transmitted to far-flung Portuguese colonies in the New World, Asia and Africa.
"Madeira" means "wood" in Portuguese and the laurisilva forest that remains on the northern hills of Madeira once covered the whole island as well as The Azores and the Canary Islands, and was, at one time, widespread in Europe. Laurisilva forest, made up of laurel-leaved, evergreen hardwoods, supports a rich plant and animal diversity including bryophytes, ferns and flowering plants and the endemic Madeiran long-toed pigeon.
Clustered high on the hills commanding the mouth of the Douro river, Porto has a long history dating back to Roman times. The old city has many outstanding buildings of historic interest including the 12th century Sé (cathedral) with a Gothic cloister decorated with azulejos, the 15th century Manueline-style Church of Santa Clara, noted for its gilded wooden choir stalls, the opulent Palácio de Bolsa (Stock Exchange) and the baroque Igeja São Lourenço (Igeja dos Grilos). The city's wealth was based on ship-building - Porto's caravels sailed the world - and the lucrative port wine trade.
Sintra, just 32km from Lisbon, is set in lush forested hills. The town, with its mild climate quickly became a center of European Romantic architecture when King Ferdinand II converted a ruined monastery into a royal palace - what is now the Palácio Nacional, complete with Gothic arches, Moorish windows and exotic landscape gardens. The town is full of charming, azulejos-tiled palaces and quintas (estates).
Tomar was the headquarters of Knights Templar in Portugal and the original Templar church was begun in 1162, modeled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Convento de Cristo, set in wooded hills, consists of seven cloisters, of which four are open to the public, and the buildings are a maze of ornate staircases and passages. The extravagant chapterhouse is a Manueline masterpiece built in the early 16th century and dedicated to Portugal's nautical "Age of Discoveries".
Pico, the second largest island in the Azores archipelago, is host to a unique man-made environment on its volcanic coast - a 987 hectare site of protective dry-stone walls built to shield the thousands of tiny plots of land (currais) from the elements. The sheltered plots have been used since the 15th century to grow vines to produce the island's distinctive Pico Wine (Vinho do Pico).
The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.