Lisbon, the capital city, has approximately two million and a half inhabitants, including the periphery. Lisbon has more than twenty centuries of history. In parallel with modernity and cosmopolitanism, the city also offers a typical neighbourhood life integrated in a medieval architecture characterized by narrow streets, where old houses cohabit with ancient palaces and grandiose churches.
Lisbon is a stage of multiple international events, from cultural shows to sportive organizations.
The country’s second largest city is Oporto, important burgh since the Middle Ages period, giving the name to Portugal – Portucalle. Situated on the mouth of Douro River, with its historical centre classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, the city owes its reputation in great part to the wine which borrows its name. With typical features significantly emphasised, Oporto is famous for its business and cultural life dynamism.
Coimbra is one of the oldest university cities of Europe. It maintains secular academic traditions, such as the students black cover, the involving sound of typical Coimbra’s fado and the famous ceremony of “Queima das Fitas”. The university is located on the highest part of the city, with its famous tower and a grandiose library baroque-style – which keeps sumptuous collections of books and ancient manuscripts – and also an important Technological Centre.
Braga was founded by the Celts around 300 BC and became an important administrative centre during the roman invasion period. Afterwards it became the bulwark of Christianity during the Moor occupation of the IX century. The city is an important industrial pole, namely in textiles (one of the main sources of national exportation). Braga was one of the most relevant religious centres of the country and has one of the most ancient Portuguese cathedrals.
Viseu – The origins of Viseu date back to the castreja period and with Romanization it became very famous due to the Roman cross-roads. Viseu is associated to the image of Viriato, as this Lusitanian hero is supposed to have been born in this region. The city was promoted to diocese headquarters after the Roman occupation of the Peninsula, and during the Visigoth domain in the VI century. In the VIII century, it was occupied by the Moors, like almost all Iberian villages, and during the Peninsula’s reconquest it suffered alternately attacks and counter-attacks by and between Christians and Muslims. In the XV century, Viseu was donated to Infant Henrique, after being conceded the title of Duke of Viseu. In the XVI century, in 1513, King Manuel I renovated Viseu’s charter, and in a very short period expanded it. Vasco Fernandes lived during this century. He was an important painter, whose works spread over several churches of the region, and including the Grão Vasco Museum near the Cathedral.
Évora – The city was designated Ebora Cerealis during the Roman empire, gained the name Liberalitas Julia during the period of Emperor Júlio César. At the time it was an important city, as one can see looking at the ruins of the classical temple and the vestiges of the Roman fortress walls. It was conquered to the Moors in 1165 by Geraldo Sem Pavor (Geraldo, the Unfrightened), the year he restored his diocese. It was a royal residence, mainly during the reigns of king João II, king Manuel I and king João III. Its prestige was particularly relevant during the XVI century, when it was promoted to ecclesiastical capital and when the University of Évora was founded (subordinated to the Jesus Company) by Cardinal Infant Henrique, first Archbishop of the city. This was extinguished in 1759 (and would only be restored approximately two centuries later), after the Jesuit expulsion of the country due to an order given by Marquês de Pombal. Évora testifies the diverse styles and aesthetics and has collected throughout the years such important works of art that it has been classified by UNESCO, in 1986, as World Heritage.
Faro is the capital of Portugal’s south region, the Algarve, which is famous for its beaches. The city has a medieval wall fortress, several monuments and museums. It is also an entrance for the splendid scenario of whitewashed houses, coloured and moulded chimneys.
Funchal – The act of peopling started in 1424, when Madeira Island was divided into two captaincies. Funchal captaincy went for João Gonçalves Zarco, who settled in here with his family.
Due to its geographical situation, its fine maritime port and the productivity of its soils, an important development nucleus was created since early times in the island. Funchal designation comes from the aromatic plant named dill.
It received its first charter between 1452 and 1454 and was promoted to small town and municipality headquarters. In 1508 it was promoted to city. In terms of architectural patrimony, the most notorious buildings are: the Church and Monastery of Saint Clara, built between 1489 and 1496, in Spanish-Arab style, the Fortress-Palace of San Lourenzo of the first half of the XVI century, the Cathedral projected by Pêro Anes after an order of King Manuel I and it has one of the most beautiful roofs of Portugal made with wood from the Island. It has a mixture of architectural styles: Flemish, with gothic lines and characteristic of the Manuelino style. It was finished in the year 1514, the year it was promoted to diocese. Other important buildings are: the Episcopal Palace, the regional government palace, Funchal Town-Hall, Baltasar Dias theatre and Cruzes, Municipal and Sacred Art museums. The Insular Fort and the Pico Fortress are historical monuments that take us back to the need for a good defensive system against the attacks of pirates and corsairs.
Ponta Delgada – Administrative capital of the Azores Archipelago, it was promoted to city by royal charter on the 2nd of April 1546, during the kingdom of João III. It is the second city created in the Azores. It is located in San Miguel Island. Ponta Delgada soon developed, became a small town and later a town. With more than 5 centuries of existence, Ponta Delgada is today a unique reference in the regional panorama. It has a population of approximately 65.356 inhabitants. It is the largest municipality with the widest diversity of equipments.