Portugal is a totally unique country, and its cities are proof of this, each with very specific characteristics. Because of its age, Portugal has raised much history that left memorial churches, important castles and fortifications. Here are three of the most fascinating cities in Portugal, as an alternative to its capital Lisbon.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the oldest in Europe. It is a city with many ups and downs, and many landscapes. It is extremely cosmopolitan, relied heavily on tourism and wine productions. The houses on hills are colored, horizon is rich and comes with splendid views of the river.
Among the attractions that you can visit in Porto we recommend the Dom Luis Bridge area that crosses the Douro river, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. The latter is a very famous hilly region, which gathers the great wine houses of Portugal.
Ribeira is downtown and is a lively place, with streets that aligns both modern shops and Portuguese architectural jewels, part of UNESCO. In Porto you have the chance to admire many churches from the Church of Sao Francisco, to that of Santo Ildefonso.
Sintra is 40 minutes away by car/train/bus ride from Lisbon and is inscribed as a town in UNESCO, famous for its high buildings and monuments in the nineteenth century. The most beautiful of these are: the Palace of Sintra, Pena Palace and Castle Moors, besides all the villas and royal houses which is sprinkled, hidden in the mountains of Sintra.
Pena Palace, situated on a hill above the city, is a national monument and one of the wonders of Portugal. Legend has it that the castle was built here after the appearance of St. Mary in exactly this place. The exterior is eclectic, colorful and perfectly embodies the life in Portugal. Sintra Palace is the best-preserved Portuguese royal residence, occupied until the nineteenth century. Currently houses a museum of the history of the country. Moors Castle was built in the eighteenth century and is now in ruins. It had a strategic location during the wars and was the place where the population retreat during attacks.
Braga is an ancient city in the north-west of Portugal with an extremely long and complicated history, set during the Roman domination. The city has a large number of ancient churches, being now called Archbishops City or the city who pray. You can visit the Cathedral of Braga created with an unique blend of architectural styles, or Populo Church – among the most important.
You can still admire the idol fountain – dedicated to local Tongoenabiagua god, Gothic tower of the Braga fortress, Capela dos Coimbras in Renaissance style, Archbishop’s Palace, New Gate in Baroque style or City Hall building. It is a quiet and picturesque town, where you will definitely find relaxation.
What is your favorite city in Portugal?