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Anyone wishing to know more about Portugal its origins and the important role that it played in the history of the world will find an excellent source of information in the various national monuments that UNESCO has classified as World Heritage.
Porto, situated close to the mouth of the River Douro, is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its Historical Centre still contains important testimonies to the early days of Portuguese nationhood. Upstream, nestled in the valley of one of the tributaries of River Douro is an open-air prehistoric art gallery composed of the Rock Engravings of the Côa Valley. The journey there takes you through the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro valley, along whose banks grow the grapes used to produce another of the world’s great heritage, PORTO WINE.
To the south, in the small town of Batalha not far from the Lisbon, stands the Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória, a major Gothic work linked to the consolidation of the Portuguese Kingdom. Along the way, cities such as Aveiro, Coimbra or Leiria are well worth a visit. A short detour will take you to the sea and a coastline of long sandy beaches and dunes. A mere 12 km from the monastery of Batalha is the Mosteiro de Alcobaça, founded in the time of D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, who gave it to the Cistercians, a strict religious order, whose austere way of life can still be sensed there today. Roughly 60 km inland from here, the city of Tomar is dominated by the Convento de Cristo and the Castelo Templário, both of which bear witness to the history of the Order of the Knights Templar. Their assets were transferred to the Order of Christ in the thirteenth century, which later on was to play such a major role in the Portuguese maritime discoveries.
Lisbon, the capital that is bathed in sunlight, offers you the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém, both symbolically situated by the banks of the River Tagus and testifying to the great enterprising spirit of the Portuguese during the period of the Discoveries. In the city’s surrounding area, visitors wending their way through the verdant cultural landscape of Serra de Sintra are constantly surprised by its remarkable houses and romantic palaces.
On the other side of the bridge over the River Tagus, the road takes you across the wide open spaces of Alentejo plains to the city of Évora, where many thousands of years of history have been preserved inside its strong walls.
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