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History & Culture of Portugal - Part 17

History & Culture of Portugal - Part 17. Portuguese – Places to Visit.Portuguese – Places to Visit. Cities, Castles, Palaces, Monasteries and Museums. Portugal is full of culture and history.

Monastery of Batalha – a Dominican convent in the municipality of Batalha near Leiria. Erected in commemoration of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota and would serve as the burial church of the 15th-century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royalty. One of the best and original examples of Late Flamboyant Gothic architecture in Portugal.

Pombal Castle – Around 1128, the Castle of Pombal, site of a former Roman castro and Arab fortress, was donated to the Knights Templar by Afonso Henriques in order to defend Coimbra, and which included a vast territory of land.The transfer of its control at this time, was seen as an important military position, owing to its successive generations of fortification and disputes between Christian and Muslim forces. The castle lost its military importance during the modern era, and was attacked by French forces during the Napoleonic Peninsular War. French troops commanded by General Ney caused severe damage to the castle during the peninsular invasion in 1811

Buçaco Palace – a Discalced Carmelite convent established in 1628. The monks of the Convento de Santa Cruz do Buçaco not only built a convent but also created a luxurious garden with many species of trees. The garden was supposed to represent Mount Carmel (where the order was founded) and the Earthly Paradise. Date from the late 17th century a series of chapels with representations of a Via Crucis in the garden. Milestones and memorials of the victory won over the Napoleonic army are the obelisk and the Military Museum.

One of Europe’s oldest university towns, it has kept its secular academic traditions, exemplified by the blackcaped students, the soulful tones of the “fado de Coimbra” (traditional song sung to the sound of guitars by the students) and the Queima das Fitas: a boisterous celebration of the students’ graduating year (Burning of the Ribbons). The university overlooks the city with its old tower and a sumptuous Baroque library. In the adjacent quarters the Old Cathedral (Romanesque) and the Machado de Castro Museum can be found, built over a Roman cryptoportico. In the ancient streets, with their medieval walls, arches and stairways, are the Santa Cruz Monastery (founded in 1131), the church of Santiago and the monastery of Celas (13th-century). On the left bank of the Mondego stands the Santa Clara-a-Nova Convent (Baroque, 17th-century). 10 miles to the south, lies Conimbriga, the most important Roman ruins in Portugal.

Famous for its lagoon and salt production from Roman times (named from Celtic Aber – river mouth), this town is criss-crossed by canals where colorfully painted moliceiro boats sail. Deserving a special mention: the Cathedral (15th-18th centuries) and Gothic cross; Misericordia Church and Sao Bartolomeu Chapel; 18th century churches of Santo Antonio and Sao Goncalo. Regional Museum, housed in the ancient Convento de Jesus.

Read other parts of this series HERE.

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