By Bridget Castner
Portugal is a bucket list destination filled with incredible food, music, and gorgeous scenery. Considering it’s the oldest country in Europe, it also happens to be home to tons of historical sites!
Like history as much as you like beautiful cityscapes? You’re in luck! Read on for some of the best historical sites in Portugal to visit.
A Brasileira - Lisbon
This historical coffee shop was opened in 1905 in Chiado, Lisbon, and was a famous spot for intellectuals to gather and discuss ideas. One in particular is the famous poet Fernando Pessoa. There is a bronze statue of Pessoa on the property that can be visited, and the glasses he wore to write his famous book Mensagem are on display in the shop. A copy of the book is available to purchase at the shop in 5 languages, so you can sip on your coffee and read while you enjoy!
Belem Tower - Lisbon
Another historical landmark in Lisbon is the famous Belem Tower, built between 1514 and 1520 by architect Francisco de Arruda. The tower was originally constructed to protect Lisbon from incoming raids along the Tagus River. Take a tour of the castle and see things like the Governor’s Hall, the Kings’ Hall, and a room with 16 windows full of old historic cannons from when the tower was a defense site. If that’s not enough, you can also tour the pits where prisoners were kept. If you’re feeling inspired for more 16th century history after your tour, pop over to the nearby Jeronimos Monastery. Both places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
St. George’s Castle - Lisbon
Take a trip to St. George’s Castle for some great history and incredible views! The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 6th century. You can climb the towers and walk along the long extension of walls that were restored in the early 20th century, after much of the building was destroyed in 1755 during the Great Earthquake. From these walls you can see magnificent views of Lisbon, relax in the castle gardens, or walk up to the periscope located in the Tower of Ulysses to take in different sites around the city!
Lello’s Bookshop - Porto
Established in 1906, this delightful bookshop in Porto has been a meeting point for readers, authors, and lovers of the arts alike for over one hundred years. The store runs monthly events highlighting an Author of the Month and hosts book launches, debates, staged readings and other cultural events. Browse an extensive collection of rare books such as the first edition of Moby Dick published in 1851 (a copy belonging to Jim Morrison himself), or take a peek at some works by celebrated Portuguese authors like Antonio Lobo Antunes and Alexandre O’Neill.
Igreja de Sao Francisco - Porto
One of Porto’s oldest standing masterpieces is The Church of St. Francis (Igreja de Sao Francisco). Built in the 14th century, it is home to Sao Francisco’s Tree of Jesse, the family tree of painted wood depicting Christ’s genealogy. While you’re there, consider taking a tour of the ancient catacombs underneath the church where many Brothers of the Franciscan Order are buried. You can also visit the ossuary that contains thousands of human bones, as well as the church museum.
Kopke Winery - Porto
Founded in 1638 by Nicolau Kopke, this winery has one of the most extensive ranges of Port and Douro DOC wines. With over 300 years of history packed in, this is the perfect spot to book a tasting or a vineyard tour. Spots fill up quickly though, so be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out!
Augusto Arruda Pineapple Plantation - São Miguel Island, Azores
This tasty site in Ponta Delgada has over 100 years of history to its name and is one of the best free things to do in Sao Miguel. You can tour the plantation and see all the phases of pineapple cultivation from beginning to end, then head to the gift shop afterwards for a free tasting of Pineapple Liqueur. Be sure to grab a bottle on your way out, as it’s only sold here! The gift shop is home to a vast assortment of other homemade products including Pineapple with mustard, Pineapple Chutney, and Pineapple with Olive Oil and Chili Pepper. With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one!
Portas da Cidade - São Miguel Island, Azores
These city gates have been standing since they were built in the 18th century. Consisting of three large arches, with the middle arch showing off the Royal and the City’s Coat of Arms, the gates are surely a sight to see. After you’re done viewing these spectacular gates, venture off into the town of Ponta Delgada which is the capital of the autonomous region of the Azores. Check out restaurants in the area with delicious food, or have a drink and take in the town from a seat at one of the cafes!
Which of these intriguing, historical places will you visit on your trip to Portugal?