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  • Nicole Maffei

My Second Trip to Portugal 🇵🇹

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Last year, I visited the beautiful country of Portugal for the second time (my first visit was four years ago, can you say, "culture shock"? Especially since that was my first time going to Europe). Spending two weeks there truly is not enough time - rich in history, culture, art, architecture, and nature, there is so much to explore in Portugal. It is generally inexpensive to travel there as well. I definitely recommend Portugal as a travel destination!

First off, I'd like say again - congratulations, Danny and Shiho! Their wedding was set on a gorgeous beach in Praia da Tocha in Aveiro, Portugal.

We also visited several landmarks and palaces we had not gotten the chance to visit on our last trip to Portugal. Here are some of our favorite landmarks and spots!

This is one of the palaces we visited, Paço dos Duques de Bragança (Palace of the Dukes of Braganza) in Guimarães, built in the 15th century (around 1420) for the eighth Count of Barcelos (and, later, first Duke of Bragança), D. Afonso, the illegitimate son of King D. João I. D. Afonso traveled to England, Scotland, Spain, France and Italy, which heavily influenced the way he built this palace. After his death, his wife continued to reside in the palace until her death. It is believed that during the century of the Five Hundreds, the Palace was still used as the residence of the Dukes of Bragança. Gradually, it entered a phase of abandonment and consequent ruin until the 19th century when the French invaded and the Palace was adapted into Military Barracks. In the following century, under the regime of the Estado Novo, the Paço dos Duques was rebuilt. On June 25, 1959, the Palace became official residence of the President of the Republic in the North of Portugal.

Inside the palace, we got to see many historical artifacts and pieces, such as furniture, clothing, tapestry, ceramics, paintings, armory, and other various items. Click here to visit their official website for more information!

Of course, we had to take a stroll through the capital city of Portgual - Lisbon. We stayed mostly in the Alfama neighborhood and Belem district and visited several landmarks.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos - there are actually two sides of the monument full of the "Age of Discovery" explorers from the 15th and 16th centuries. There are a total of 33 figures, with Henry the Navigator in the front and center.

Next, we stopped at the Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) in the Belem district. A national monument also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list (1983), this 16th century architectural masterpiece was founded by King D. Manuel I and was donated to the Jerónimos monks, who remained here until the second quarter of the 19th century. Click here to read in more detail about the history of the monastery.

We were anxious to try natas (Pastéis de Nata) from the 19th-century-old bakery, Pastéis de Belém, which was practically next door to the monastery. Lines to dine at this bakery were out the door. Needless to say, they were delicious. Read about the bakery's history from their official website here!

We also visited the worldwide famous Fátima Sanctuary. This is where in 1917, the three shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto reported seeing the Marian apparitions. She exhorted them to pray the rosary for world peace and, over the course of her six apparitions, gave the children three "secrets." She promised a miracle in October, and on the 13th of that month, a crowd of perhaps 70,000 people witnessed a "miraculous solar phenomenon," in which the Sun appeared to fall toward Earth. After initially questioning the authenticity of the children's visions, the Vatican accepted them as appearances of the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fátima), and Fátima became the location of one of the greatest Marian shrines in the world. Click here to read more about the event in Fatima in more detail.

The olive tree where the three shepherd children saw Mary.

Next, we took in the breathtaking views of Sagres Point.

Sagres Point (Ponta de Sagres) is a promontory located in southwest Algarve. The location was used as a port for fishermen and traders from different nations. The 16th-century fortress built in this promontory was to protect armies from invading enemies. This place was known as "The End of the World" because at the time, they thought only ocean existed from this point, since it's the most western tip of mainland Europe. Little did they know that there indeed was more land across the Atlantic Ocean.

Rosa dos Ventos

Rosa dos Ventos - this structure (50m in diameter) was unearthed in 1919, although it is believed to have originated in the time of Henry the Navigator in the 16th century. There is speculation to the purpose of this rose. Some think it was used as a compass for practice in navigation school, that it may have been used as a sundial for military and naval activities that occurred on this site, or even for mystical properties.

We also got to see the actual canons used in military defense against invaders!

Here is the official Sagres Fortress website for more information.

We visited the Roman Ruins of Milreu (Ruinas Romanas de Milreu) in Faro, Algarve. A Roman-occupied luxurious villa believed to be found between the 1st and 4th centuries A.D. and to include a water temple, residence manor, thermal baths, oil and wine mills, agricultural installations, and a 16th-century farmhouse.

Inner view of the water temple

Marine-themed mosaics found all over the ruins

16th-century farmhouse

A special thanks to my boyfriend, Andre, for being my personal (and best) tour guide and helping me provide information about the places we visited.




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