A nation of great seafarers, Portuguese explorers sailed the world in the 15th and 16th centuries – they claimed territories as far apart as Africa and Asia and colonised Brazil. From 1932 to 1968 Portugal was ruled by the dictator Oliveira Salazar but after a military coup in 1974 the armed forces withdrew from politics. In 1986 Portugal joined the European community, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Tourism is very important to the economy.
Portugal’s great navigators and explorers set sail from Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, on the mouth of the River Tagus. In the 15th century, Lisbon was a major port and world centre for the spice and gold trade. The ornate 16rth century Belem Tower on the north bank of the river marks the site where the explorer Vasco Da Gama set sail.
What to see
Many other sights await you in Lisbon. The Statue of Pombal, who rebuilt the city after the disastrous earthquake of 1755, is at the top of the famous mile long Avenida Da Liberdade. Many old palaces and mansions have been converted into elegant restaurants and bars, shops and Art Galleries. You will be able to view the 25th April Bridge, sister to the Golden gate, and the famous Christ the King Statue.
Alternatively, you can easily visit the famous unspoilt Portuguese Riviera, while resorts like Cascais and Estoril are approximately 30 minutes away. For those wishing to explore by themselves there is an efficient train service from Lisbon stations to Cascais, Estoril and other resorts.
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Photos: Lisbon View (SG) 13