Portugal is often overlooked by tourists for its more popular neighbor, Spain. For most people, all there is to know about Portugal is that it produced one of the most legendary footballers in history. However, there are more interesting facts to know about the country. Check out some Interesting Facts About Portugal in this article.
1. It is one of the oldest nation-states in Europe
It is fitting that the first fact we tell you is that Portugal is one of the oldest nation-states in Europe. The country’s capital, Lisbon, is said to be about 400 years older than Rome. History shows that Portugal has been in existence long before many of the world’s old states. This includes reports that the Phoenicians settled in Lisbon around 1200 BC. There are signs and claims of the country having been settled in by some other people during various periods of civilization.
In 1139, Portugal defined its borders and appointed King Afonso Henriques. The territory remained a kingdom for almost 800 years until 1910, when the Portuguese Republican Party staged a successful revolution. Many people find this fact interesting because you may not know from a single visit to the country how long it has existed.
2. Has Europe’s longest bridge
one of the interesting facts about Portugal is that the country has Europe’s longest bridge. The Vasco da Gama bridge was the longest in Europe when it opened in 1998. The historic bridge spans over 17 kilometers over the River Tagus in Lisbon connecting the northern and southern parts of Portugal. The bridge got its name from Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer who discovered the sea route from Europe to India.
The Vasco da Gama bridge is now the second-longest bridge in Europe after the Crimean bridge was opened in 2018. However, it remains the longest bridge in the European Union. Private tours to Portugal often include this bridge as part of the attractions to see.
3. Home to the world’s oldest bookshop
One fact people are always surprised to know is that the world’s oldest bookshop is in Portugal. Bertrand Bookstore was established in 1732 by Peter Faure and is still in operation. The old bookstore is a delight for many book lovers in the Chiado district in Lisbon. You can sit where many of the old Portuguese intellectuals once sat to exchange ideas to feel inspired.
Apart from the book and the feeling of being a part of history, you can also admire the chic outlook of the bookstore. The exterior of the building is made with mosaic tiles, giving it a look that seems out of a book.
You can explore the picturesque landscapes and vibrant culture of Portugal with exclusive Portugal small group tours, ensuring an intimate and personalized travel experience.
4. One of the world’s oldest universities is in Portugal
Portugal boasts another tie to intellectualism by owning one of the world’s oldest universities. The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the first universities anywhere in the world. In 2013, the institution became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and became a top spot for tourists to visit.
If you are in Portugal and want to visit the university, you should ensure you check out the Joanine Library and the Royal Palace. These landmarks showcase the efforts of the university’s founder, King Dinis, and the early Portuguese intellectuals’ commitment to academic legacies.
5. The maximum prison sentence is 25 years
One of the most interesting facts about Portugal is elements in the international community is the legal systems of different countries. While some countries enforce stricter laws, the Portuguese legal system is what many deem lenient. The Penal Code pegs the highest jail term a person can get to 25 years. No prisoner can stay longer than 25 years in prison, even for multiple charges.
As expected, the death penalty has no place in the Portuguese penal system. This is not strange, though. Portugal is one of the most peaceful countries in the world, ranking 6th on the Global Peace Index (GPI), 2022.
6. The Country Boasts Many Surfing Records
If you love surfing, you will find Portugal an exciting vacation spot. The country is known as one of the world’s top surf spots, and many factors contribute to this. First is the perpetual sunshine in the country, which makes the weather ideal for water sports. The country also has a long coastline that spans 497 miles, making it perfect for surfing and beach activities.
The interesting fact about surfing in Portugal is that some of the biggest waves ever surfed are in Portugal. The coast of Nazare had facilitated surfing records like the current Guinness World Record held by Rodrigo Koxa when he caught an almost 25-meter wave in 2017. In 2013, McNamara broke his world record by catching an almost 30-meter wave in the same place. All of these and more have made Nazare a permanent spot on the World Surg League Big Wave Tour.
7. Portuguese is the official language of 9 other countries
Portugal may be a tiny country with a small population, but its language is spoken worldwide. At some point, Portugal was a global empire with colonies and settlements in what was then known as the New World. Portugal propagated its language and culture in most of these countries, some still in use today. Many of Portugal’s former colonies still speak Portuguese, even after independence.
Today, Portuguese is the official language of 9 other countries apart from Portugal. They include Brazil, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Cape Verde, Sao Tome, and Principe, and Macau. These countries bring the total number of people speaking Portuguese to about 250 million, making it one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages.
There is a lot to do in Portugal, so much that the country has become one of the top 20 most visited countries in the world. You can plan your next vacation to Portugal to see some of these interesting facts in real life.