University of Coimbra

4 October 2022 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Universities, Colleges, Academies Reading Time:  7 minutes

The Joanine Library © Alvesgaspar/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Joanine Library © Alvesgaspar/cc-by-sa-3.0

The University of Coimbra (UC; Portuguese: Universidade de Coimbra) is a public research university in Coimbra, Portugal. First established in Lisbon in 1290, it went through a number of relocations until moving permanently to Coimbra in 1537. The university is among the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the oldest in Portugal, and played an influential role in the development of higher education in the Portuguese-speaking world. In 2013, UNESCO declared the university a World Heritage Site, noting its architecture, unique culture and traditions, and historical role.   read more…

Macaronesia in the Atlantic Ocean

31 December 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  6 minutes

Cámara de Lobos, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-4.0

Cámara de Lobos, Madeira © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-4.0

Macaronesia is a collection of four volcanic archipelagos in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the coasts of the continents of Africa and Europe. Each archipelago is made up of a number of Atlantic oceanic islands, which are formed by seamounts on the ocean floor and have peaks above the ocean’s surface. Some of the Macaronesian islands belong to Portugal, some belong to Spain, and the rest belong to Cape Verde. Politically, the islands belonging to Portugal and Spain are part of the European Union. Geologically, Macaronesia is part of the African tectonic plate. Some of its islands – the Azores – are situated along the edge of that plate at the point where it abuts the Eurasian and North American plates. Macaronesia consists of four main archipelagos. From north to south, these are: the Azores, an Autonomous Region of Portugal, Madeira (also including the Savage Islands), an Autonomous Region of Portugal, the Canary Islands, an Autonomous Community of Spain and Cape Verde, an independent West African country.   read more…

Fátima in Portugal

22 March 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  7 minutes

© Reis Quarteu/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Reis Quarteu/cc-by-sa-4.0

Fátima is a city in the municipality of Ourém, in the Central Region and Médio Tejo intermunicipal community of Portugal, with 71.29 km² of area and 11,788 inhabitants (2011). Its population density is 162.7 inhabitants/km². The homonymous civil parish encompasses several villages and localities of which the city of Fátima, with a population of 7,756 residents, is the largest.   read more…

Leiria in Portugal

15 January 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  7 minutes

© Fulviusbsas

© Fulviusbsas

Leiria is a city and a municipality in the Centro Region of Portugal and in the historical province of Beira Litoral. It is the capital of Leiria District. The population in 2011 was 126,879, in an area of 565.09 square kilometres (218.18 sq mi). It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.   read more…

São Miguel Island, the largest island of the Azores

30 December 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  8 minutes

Fonte de Buraco Belvedere overlooking the village of Maia © José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa

Fonte de Buraco Belvedere overlooking the village of Maia © José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa

São Miguel Island, nicknamed “The Green Island” (Ilha Verde), is the largest and most populous island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. The island covers 760 km² (290 sq mi) and has around 140,000 inhabitants, with 45,000 people residing in Ponta Delgada, the archipelago’s largest city. The ancient laurisilva forest has mostly been replaced by cultivated fields and imported trees and plants, such as the ubiquitous cryptomeria trees. There are some hot springs (caldeiras), generally located in the center of the island, in the area stretching from Povoação to Nordeste. The highest elevation on São Miguel is the Pico da Vara at 1,103 metres (3,619 ft). Lying at the eastern end of the island, it is the focus of a Special Protection Area containing the largest remnant of laurisilva forest on the island, which is home to the endemic and critically endangered bird, the Azores bullfinch. Whale watching tours, starting from Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo are available. One may see sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales.   read more…

Quinta da Regaleira in Portugal

1 October 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Architecture, House of the Month, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  11 minutes

© Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Diego Delso/cc-by-sa-4.0

Quinta da Regaleira is a quinta located near the historic centre of Sintra, Portugal. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra”. Along with the other palaces in the area such as the Quinta do Relógio, Pena, Monserrate and Seteais palaces, it is considered one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra. The property consists of a Romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire”, which is based on the nickname of its best known former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. The palace was designed by the italian architect Luigi Manini.   read more…

Sintra in Portugal

31 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Part of the historic centre © Peter K Burian/cc-by-4.0

Part of the historic centre © Peter K Burian/cc-by-4.0

Sintra is a town and municipality in the Greater Lisbon region of Portugal, located on the Portuguese Riviera. The population of the municipality in 2011 was 377,835, in an area of 319.23 square kilometres (123.26 sq mi). Sintra is a major tourist destination in Portugal, famed for its picturesqueness and for its numerous historic palaces and castles. Sintra is also a major luxury dining and tourism destination within the Portuguese Riviera, as well as one of the wealthiest municipalities in the country, and is known for the numerous notable events hosted in Sintra, such as Bilderberg Meetings and the Open de Portugal.   read more…

Routes of El legado andalusi/Al-Andalus

4 October 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Architecture, European Union, Living, Working, Building, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  10 minutes

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Morningstar1814/cc-by-sa-3.0

In the 8th century, the Iberian Peninsula saw the arrival of Arabs and Berbers who mixed with the Roman-Visigoth inhabitants, engendering what was known as Al-Andalus. This successful medieval Muslim civilisation extended, at its peak, to most of what is today Spain and Portugal, until its downfall in the late 15th century (Reconquista). Today, the importance of Al-Andalus to Western Europe is all too often underestimated, or attempts are made to downplay the effect of this medieval “multicultural” approach on the development of Europe. It was the numerous innovations that the Muslims brought with them (enriched with knowledge from ancient Egypt and ancient China) that gave Europe an unexpected boost in development, both in the sciences and of course in the culinary field. Try depriving Europeans of their morning coffee and you’ll find yourself dealing with an ill-tempered continent. While science and the fine arts were already being established in Al-Andalus, we northern Europeans were still on the move as “uneducated and inhospitable woodworms”. This slowly changed with the spread of knowledge from Al-Andalus to the north. At the same time, one cannot understand today’s Andalusia and its appeal without knowing the impact of Al-Andalus.   read more…

Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal

19 July 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Architecture Reading Time:  8 minutes

Typical azulejo facades © Andreas Trepte/cc-by-sa-2.5

Typical azulejo facades © Andreas Trepte/cc-by-sa-2.5

Aveiro is a city and a municipality in Portugal. In 2011, the population was 78,450, in an area of 197.58 square kilometres (76.29 sq mi). It is the second most populous city in the Centro Region of Portugal (after Coimbra). Along with the neighbouring city of Ílhavo, Aveiro is part of an urban agglomeration that includes 120,000 inhabitants, making it one of the most important populated regions by density in the Centro Region, and primary centre of the Intermunicipal Community of Aveiro and Baixo Vouga.   read more…

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