Portugal: never fading beauty
This country is feminine. They say that a woman is interested in the past, and a man – the future. It is the past that Portugal is proud and lives to this day.
Portugal used to rule a large part of the world – it owned huge Brazil, had colonies in Africa and Asia, fearless Portuguese navigators discovered new lands, pirated and traded everything in a row, including slaves, and treasures from subordinate lands flowed into the metropolis. As this tiny country occupying a narrow strip of land along the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, where about ten million people now live, and even less during colonial rule, they managed to create a mighty empire and for some time in no way yield to its European neighbors – Spain, France and the mistress of the seas of England?
The whole of Portugal, with its slightly dimmed brilliance, is a memory of lost greatness. Now this country has modestly faded into the background, and here, in a far quiet European corner, it feels good and comfortable. Yes, once it was the center of the world, and no Portuguese would ever forget about it.
It would seem, where is Moscow, and where is Portugal? Between us lies the whole of Europe; more distant Europe for us simply does not exist. However, for some reason, Portugal almost immediately is perceived as its own, close country. Maybe this is because of the abundance of hissing in the language – it sounds so familiar that you think: it is worth a little effort, and you will immediately understand all the words. Maybe this is due to a certain similarity of national characters: both we and they have constant sadness-longing in their souls, and we and they don’t like too much to work hard, and we and their blood have settled a kind of pizhonstvo. But we are not so alike that it is not interesting here.
A trip to Portugal is quite possible to arrange as a purely beach holiday. Something, and plenty of beaches here. And the wild, where vacationers are completely left to themselves, and fashionable, like a chain of resorts under the common name of Costa do Sol, that is, Sunny Beach. Cascais, the most popular and luxurious of them – with an amazing beach, a bay full of yachts, magnificent villas, a wealthy public, its own microclimate and all the entertainment the resort has to offer, is just three dozen kilometers from Lisbon.
Another fashionable resort town, Estoril, became a resting place for the aristocracy a hundred years ago – it stopped in its old hotels, and even now a lot of crowned heads and just celebrities stay. At their disposal are golf courses, great casinos and wonderful weather – Estoril is considered one of the sunniest cities in Europe. The chain of developed beaches stretches right up to Cape Roca – the most western point of Europe, where sandy shores give way to wild, gloomy-beautiful rocky cliffs. Looking at them is breathtaking, but only mad people dare to swim here.
To come to Portugal and neglect its ancient cities is somehow absurd – in general, you need to travel in plenty. Moreover, now this country is incredibly cheap by European standards. Well, where else would you eat a huge crab for 14 euros? Only in Lisbon. Unfortunately, such a pleasant state of affairs will not last forever, so take a moment and hurry: last winter, in some bars of the glamorous Porto, for a glass of quite decent wine, they asked for only euros. Perhaps next winter you will not find anything like this in our constantly rising world.
Traveling around this country is most convenient to begin in Lisbon, a city that was conquered from the Arabs and became the capital of Portugal in 1147. However, he was born many centuries before he became the capital. Once there lived Phoenicians, then the Visigoths, then temporarily subdued almost the entire Iberian Peninsula Moors. The heyday of Lisbon happened at the beginning of the XVI century.
Then every day thousands of ships loaded with gold and spices came to the city port, and the Portuguese capital suddenly turned into the richest center. It is possible that Lisbon would today be considered the most beautiful city in Europe if it were not for the monstrous earthquake of 1755, which killed tens of thousands of inhabitants and destroyed hundreds of palaces and ancient cathedrals. Of course, they tried to restore the capital as soon as possible, but much was irretrievably lost.
Coimbra is the city of an old university, fancifully spread out on several steep hills. Tomar – the former patrimony of the Templars, who built an incredibly beautiful castle-monastery. Obidos is a real medieval fortress, behind the mighty walls of which people live, not at all embarrassed by the fact that their houses have many hundreds of years and that these do not have to cook soups, but arrange excursions. Evora is a city of well-preserved Roman ruins and amazing tiled cathedrals. Actually, to finish the walls with blue and white tiles is a favorite architectural feature of the Portuguese. True, being in such a tiled cathedral, you feel as if inside a Dutch stove, but the stove is very beautiful and unusual. In short, in Portugal, a lot of things, and it’s all special.