Culture of Portugal

Culture of Portugal
A 19th century Portuguese couple with typical rural clothes from Minho province, in a Singer sewing machine advertisement card, distributed at World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893.

The culture of Portugal is the result of a complex flow of different civilizations during the past Millennia. From prehistoric cultures, to its Pre-Roman civilizations (such as the Lusitanians, the Gallaeci, the Celtici, and the Cynetes, amongst others), passing through its contacts with the Phoenician-Carthaginian world, the Roman period (see Hispania, Lusitania and Gallaecia), the Germanic invasions and consequent settlement of the Suevi and Buri (see Suebic Kingdom of Galicia) and the Visigoth (see Visigothic Kingdom), and, finally, the Moorish Umayyad invasion of Hispania and the subsequent Reconquista, all have made an imprint on the country's culture and history.

The name of Portugal itself reveals much of the country's early history, stemming from the Roman name Portus Cale, a Latin name meaning "Port of Cale", later transformed into Portucale, and finally into Portugal, who emerged as a county of the Kingdom of León (see First County of Portugal and Second County of Portugal) and became an independent kingdom in 1139. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was a major economic, political, and cultural power, its global empire stretching from Brazil to the Indies.

Portugal, as a country with a long history, is home to several ancient architectural structures, as well as typical art, furniture and literary collections mirroring and chronicling the events that shaped the country and its peoples. It has a large number of cultural landmarks ranging from museums to ancient church buildings to medieval castles, which testify its rich national cultural heritage.



Rua Augusta (street) in the Pombaline Baixa (Lower Town), Lisbon.

The Portuguese participate in many cultural activities, indulging their appreciation of art, music, drama, and dance. Portugal has a rich traditional folklore (Ranchos Folclóricos), with great regional variety. Many cities and towns have a museum and a collection of ancient monuments and buildings. Many towns have at least a cinema, some venues to listen to music and locations to see arts and crafts. In the larger cities visits to the theatre, concerts or galleries of modern exhibitions are popular, and Portugal can boast not only international-scale venues in Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Guimarães and Coimbra but also many acclaimed artists from various disciplines. The importance of the arts is illustrated by the fact that on the death of Amália Rodrigues, the "Queen of Fado" (fado is Portugal's national music) in October 1999, three days of national mourning was declared. In 1998, José Saramago, one of Portugal's well-known writers, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. In 2001, Porto was European Capital of Culture, contributing to a current renaissance in artistic creation, and in 2004 Portugal hosted the European football finals in specially constructed stadiums.

In smaller towns and villages, cultural activity may revolve around local folklore, with musical groups performing traditional dance and song. Local festivities are very popular during the summer season in all kinds of localities ranging from villages to cities, as well as beach holidays from July to September. Portuguese people in almost all major towns and the cities like to go shopping in malls which are generally well equipped with modern facilities and offer a wide variety of attractions ranging from shops and stores of the most renowned brands to cinemas, restaurants and hypermarkets. Café culture is also regarded as an important cultural feature of the Portuguese. As the most popular sport, football events involving major Portuguese teams are always widely followed with great enthusiasm. There are a number of bullrings in Portugal, although the passion for bullfighting varies from region to region.


Jeronimos Monastery is Portugal's best example of its Manueline architecture.

Since the second millennium BC, there has been important construction in the area where Portugal is situated today. Portugal boasts several scores of medieval castles, as well as the ruins of several villas and forts from the period of Roman occupation. Modern Portuguese architecture follow the most advanced trends seen in European mainstream architecture with no constraints, though preserving some of its singular characteristics. The azulejo and the Portuguese pavement are two typical elements of Portuguese-style architecture. Portugal is perhaps best known for its distinctive Manueline architecture with its rich, intricate designs attributed to Portugal's Age of Discoveries.


Folk dances include: Circle dance, Fandango (of the Ribatejo region), Two Steps Waltz, Schottische (Chotiça), Corridinho (of the Algarve and Estremadura regions), Vira (of the Minho region), Bailarico, Vareirinha, Malhão, Vareira, Maneio, Vira de Cruz, Vira Solto, Vira de Macieira, Sapatinho, Tau-Tau, Ciranda, Zé que Fumas, Regadinho, O Pedreiro and Ó Ti Taritatu. There are also variations of these dances called the Chamarita in the Azores. Dance apparel is highly varied, ranging from work clothes to the Sunday best, with rich distinguished from the poor.


In the 1990s around 10 full-length fictional works were produced per annum, Portugal's filmmakers tending to be artisans. Financing of Portuguese cinema is by state grants and from television stations. The internal market is very small and Portuguese penetration of international markets is fairly precarious. A film is considered a success when it draws an audience of more than 150.000, which few Portuguese films manage to achieve.

Director Manoel de Oliveira is the oldest director in the world, and continues to make films at the age of 100. Since 1990 has made an average of one film per annum. He has received international recognition awards and won the respect of the cinematography community all over the world. Retrospectives of his works have been shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival (1992), the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (1993), the San Francisco Film Festival, and the Cleveland Museum of Art (1994). Despite his international recognition, the films of Oliveira (and that of other Portuguese directors) are neglected locally.

João César Monteiro, a member of the generation that founded the "New Portuguese Cinema" in the 1960s, a provocative film maker in the 1990s made "O Último Mergulho" (1992), "A Comédia de Deus" (1995), "Le Bassin de John Wayne" (1997) and "As Bodas de Deus" (1998). "A Comédia de Deus" won the Jury's Special Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1995.

Teresa Villaverde is a younger filmmaker and in the 1990s she surfaced as a director, her film (Três Irma's, 1994) won the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival.


A Canção de Lisboa: (lit. Lisbon Song) is a Portuguese film comedy from 1933, directed by José Cottinelli Telmo, and starring Vasco Santana and Beatriz Costa. Manuel de Oliveira had a minor role in this film. It was the second Portuguese sound feature film (the first was A Severa, a 1931 documentary by Manoel de Oliveira, was originally filmed without soundtrack, which was added afterwards), and still is one of the best-loved films in Portugal. Several of its lines and songs are still quoted today!

O Pai Tirano: (lit. The Tyrant Father) is a Portuguese film comedy from 1941, directed by António Lopes Ribeiro, starring Vasco Santana, Francisco Ribeiro and Leonor Maia. It's one of the best-known comedies of the Golden Age of Portuguese Cinema. Still popular six decades after its release.

Pátio das Cantigas: (lit. The Courtyard of Songs) A comedy/ musical from 1942 directed by Francisco Ribeiro, with Vasco Santana (as Narciso), António Silva (as Evaristo), Francisco Ribeiro (as Rufino) and others. It's a portrait of the relations between neighbours in a Lisbon courtyard. A story made of small episodes of humor, friendship, rivalry, and love.

Recent films

O Crime do Padre Amaro: (lit. The Crime of Father Amaro) is a Portuguese film (2005) adapted from a book of Eça de Queiroz, directed by Carlos Coelho da Silva. This was a low quality production sponsored by Sociedade Independente de Comunicação (television channel). Even so this film beat all the records of box- office of all the Portuguese films in Portugal. The main characters are Jorge Corrula as Padre Amaro and Soraia Chaves as Amélia, and the main ingredients of this film are the sex and the nudity.

Zona J: is a Portuguese drama/romance film directed by Leonel Vieira in 1998, starring Sílvia Alberto as Fátima, Ana Bustorff as Conceição.

Sorte Nula: (lit. The Trunk) directed by Fernando Fragata, starring Helder Mendes, António Feio, Adelaide de Sousa, Rui Unas, Isabel Figueira, Bruno Nogueira, Carla Matadinho, Tânia Miller and Zé Pedro.

Meu Querido Mês de Agosto directed by Miguel Gomes is a fiction/documentary hybrid film that achieved some visibility at the Cannes Film Festival.



Each region of Portugal has its traditional dishes, including various kinds of meat, seafood, fresh fish, dried and salted cod (bacalhau), and the famous Cozido à Portuguesa, a stew.

Alcoholic beverages

Portugal is a country of wine lovers and winemakers, known since the Roman Empire-era; the Romans immediately associated Portugal with its God of Wine Bacchus. Today, many Portuguese wines are known as some of the world's best: Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho Verde, and the sweet: Port Wine (Vinho do Porto, literally Porto's wine), Madeira wine, Muscatel of Setúbal and Moscatel of Favaios. Beer is also widely consumed, with the largest national beer brands being Sagres and Super Bock. Liqueurs, like Licor Beirão and ginjinha, are popular.


Portuguese literature has developed since the 12th century from the lyrical works of João Soares de Paiva and Paio Soares de Taveirós. They wrote mostly from Portuguese oral traditions known as "cantigas de amor e amigo" and "cantigas de escárnio e maldizer" which were sung by troubadours.

Following chroniclers such as Fernão Lopes after the 14th century, fiction has its roots in chronicles and histories with theatre following Gil Vicente, whose works was critical of the society of his time.

Classical lyrical texts include Os Lusíadas, by Luís de Camões with other authors including Antero de Quental, Almeida Garrett and Camilo Pessanha.

Portuguese modernism is found in the works of Fernando Pessoa.

Following the Carnation Revolution in 1974, the Portuguese society, after several decades of repression, regained freedom of speech.

José Saramago received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

Herberto Helder is a younger poet highly considered in Portugal


Portuguese musical traditions are diverse and dynamic, they reflect multifarious historical, cultural, and political processes with influences from non-European cultures from both North and sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.

Polyphonic music, employing multiple vocal parts in harmony, was developed in the 15th century. The Renaissance fostered a rich output of compositions for solo instruments and ensembles as well as for the voice.

The 1960s started a period of expansion and innovation with pop, rock and jazz introduced and evolving, political song developed, the fado of Lisbon and the Coimbra were revitalized. Music from the former African colonies and Brazil occupied an increasingly important place in the capital's musical life and local styles of rap and hip hop emerged.

The modern revival of academic music was primarily work of Luís de Freitas Branco, and continued by Joly Braga Santos. Composers like António Victorino d'Almeida, Jorge Peixinho, Miguel Azguime, Pedro Amaral, and João Pedro Oliveira are known internationally. Orchestras include the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa and the Gulbenkian Orchestra. Oporto has had its own symphony orchestra since 1962, when the Chamber Orchestra was set up by the Gulbenkian Foundation. Lisbon also has a metropolitan orchestra, and the National Theatre of São Carlos in Lisbon, which was built in the late 18th century, has its own orchestra and ballet company. Among notable pianists, Maria João Pires has won worldwide acclaim.

Cultural centres such as the Belém Cultural Centre and the Culturgest, both in Lisbon, have expanded opportunities for major concerts. Madredeus is among the most successful popular music groups. Singer Dulce Pontes is also widely admired, and Carlos Paredes is considered by many to be Portugal's finest guitarist. Folk music and dancing and the traditional fado remain the country's fundamental forms of musical expression.


A Portuguese female fado singer - Débora Rodrigues.

Fado (translated as destiny or fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s, but possibly with much earlier origins. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade, a unique word with no accurate translation in any other language. (Home-sickness has an approximate meaning. It is a kind of longing, and conveys a complex mixture of mainly nostalgia, but also sadness, pain, happiness and love). Some enthusiasts claim that Fado's origins are a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors and Arabic influence.

There are two main varieties of fado, namely those of the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the most popular, while Coimbra's is the more refined style. Modern fado is popular in Portugal, and has produced many renowned musicians. According to tradition, to applaud fado in Lisbon you clap your hands, in Coimbra you cough as if clearing your throat.

Mainstream fado performances during the 20th century included only a singer, a Portuguese guitar player and a classical guitar player but more recent settings range from singer and string quartet to full orchestra.

The ingredients of Fado are a shawl, a guitar, a voice and heartfelt emotion.

Themes include: destiny, deep-seated feelings, disappointments in love, the sense of sadness and longing for someone who has gone away, misfortune, the ups and downs of life, the sea, the life of sailors and fishermen, and last but not least "Saudade" (one of the main themes used in fado, that means a kind of longing).

Fado is probably the oldest urban folk music in the world and represents the heart of the Portuguese soul, and for that matter fado performance is not successful if an audience is not moved to tears.

Portuguese rock

The Portuguese rock started to be noted in 1980 with the release of Ar de Rock by Rui Veloso, which was the first popular Portuguese rock song. Before that, Portugal had a vibrant underground progressive rock scene in the 1970s. Among the numerous bands and artists which followed its genesis, are Xutos & Pontapés, GNR, UHF and Moonspell.

Traditional music

In all the times and all places mankind always showed great ingenuity making sound and music from existing materials in its natural environment. The voice and the clapping of hands can certainly be considered the first instrumental forms used by man.

The Iberian Peninsula was home to a lot of different peoples and cultures, so its normal to these cultures to influence the others but still retain a little of their aspects - this happened with the Portuguese music. Even in the present one can find types of instruments from different places, such as the bagpipes and the Arab adufe, but they are now and forever a part of the Portuguese culture. From the Pauliteiros de Miranda in the Terra de Miranda to the Corridinho in the Algarve, the traditional music and songs transpire a poetic character that tells the history of a community to other people and generations to come.

Popular music

The 1980s and 1990s were marked by the search for a new musical discourse in urban popular music, the increase, commodification and industrialization of musical production, and the mediatization and expansion of music consumption. The boom in Portuguese musical production was accompanied by both the diversification of the musical domains and styles produced and consumed in Portugal and the emergence of new styles which are increasingly taking the global market into account. The denominated Pop music uses melodies easily to memorize, becoming very popular and commercial; it's also characterized by the amount of publicity made (through videos, magazines, appealing clothing, etc.).

It is possible to note two stylistic tendencies in the popular music of the 1980s and 1990s:

  • A musical discourse created by Portuguese musicians that is integrated within the major international developments experienced by commercial popular music;
  • A new musical style that vindicates its Portugueseness by both drawing upon various musical elements which musicians and audiences alike identify as Portuguese and emphasizing the Portuguese language.


Folk music is the joint of the traditional songs of a community that express through a poetic character their beliefs and tell their history to other people and generations. The danças do vira (Minho), Pauliteiros de Miranda (Miranda), Corridinho do Algarve or Bailinho (Madeira), are some examples of dances created by the sound of folk. Some of the typical instruments used are a guitar, mandolin, bagpipes, accordion, violin, drums, Portuguese guitar and an enormous variety of wind and percussion instruments.

Philharmonic music

In the popular culture the philharmonic bands represent each locality and play different types of music, from popular to classical. Lidia Costa, Carlos Marques, Alberto Madurai, José Caminos and Railcar Morays are some of the most important names in philharmonic music.

Canções de intervenção (political songs)

Political songs (canções de intervenção) played an important part in the protests against the totalitarian regime that ruled Portugal from 1926 up to the 1974 revolution. Once it was created as an object to criticize what was wrong, mainly in a political point of view. One of its main protagonists was José (Zeca) Afonso (1929–1987) but others also contributed to its development, for example Adriano Correia de Oliveira, José Mário Branco, Luís Cilia, Francisco Fanhais, José Jorge Letria, José Barata Moura and Sérgio Godinho. They traced a new course for urban popular music and influenced a further generation of musicians, some of whom also participated in the protest movement and are still active, including Fausto, Vitorino, Janita Salomé and Júlio Pereira, among others.

This musical style reflects a confluence of influences from traditional music, French urban popular songs of the 1960s, African music and Brazilian popular music. By the late 1970s the revolutionary climate had subsided and the need to express political militancy through song was no longer felt by poets, composers and singers, who subsequently redefined both their role and their creative contribution.

Classical music

Portugal has been an important centre of practice and production of music over the centuries, as the music history of Portugal expresses. In contemporary classical music, notable Portuguese musicians include the pianists Artur Pizarro, Maria João Pires and equeira Costa, and the composers: Fernando Lopes-Graça, Emmanuel Nunes, João Pedro Oliveira, Jorge Peixinho, Constança Capdeville, Clotilde Rosa, Fernando Corrêa de Oliveira, Cláudio Carneyro, Frederico de Freitas, Joly Braga Santos and Isabel Soveral.

Hip hop

Hip hop has been important since the 1980s with areas like Chelas, Amadora, Cacém and the South Bank of the Tagus are considered to be the cradle of Hip Hop Tuga.

The compilation called "Rapublica" released in 1994, which featured young rising artists and groups such as Black Company and Boss Ac, is responsible for establishing hip hop in Portugal. The refrain from a song called "Não sabe nadar, yo" ("Cant swim, yo!") was used by the president of Portugal, Mário Soares in a speech about the cave painting in Foz Côa saying that "As gravuras não sabem nadar, yo!" ("The paintings can’t swim, yo!").

Apart from Lisbon, other urban centers also established vibrant hip hop scenes during the early nineties, especially Porto, that gave birth to important groups such as Mind Da Gap. More recently other local scenes have also developed on other urban centers, such as Coimbra and Faro.

There are two major showcase events, Flowfest and Hip Hop Porto. Flowfest, in Coimbra, started in 2005. Hip Hop Porto is a free event held at Casa da Música, in September. It features mainly the northern hip hop names as headliners, drawing a very local audience. Its first edition in 2005 carded Rodney P, NBC, Blackmastah, Bomberjack, Rui Miguel Abreu, etc. Usually the event is held outdoors, but in 2006 the heavy rains made the event relocate to the parking lot of the building, causing a really "underground" look.

Student festivals

Festivals organised by students of several higher education institutions, take place every year across the country, being the one held at Coimbra the oldest and most traditional of all, copied and adapted by other universities. These include the music festivals of Queima das Fitas and Semana Académica (Aveiro, Braga, Coimbra, Covilhã, Faro, Lisbon, Porto, etc.) and Festa das Latas (Coimbra).

Summer musical festivals

Summer festivals include: Vilar de Mouros Festival, Festival Sudoeste, Rock in Rio Lisboa, Super Bock Super Rock, Festival de Paredes de Coura, Ilha do Ermal Festival, etc.

List of Portuguese musicians

Musicians cannot always be classified only as performers of only one type of music, because they evolve and their music also evolves. Below is a list of a few well known Portuguese bands and solo singers in alphabetical order.





Portuguese art was very restricted in the early years of nationality, during the reconquista, to a few paintings in churches, convents and palaces.

It was after the 15th century, with national borders established and with the discoveries, that Portuguese art expanded. Some kings, like John I already had royal painters. It is during this century that Gothic art was replaced by a more humanistic and Italian-like art.

During the reign of King Alfonso V, an important Portuguese artist Nuno Gonçalves shaped Portuguese art, leading it to gain local characteristics (Escola Nacional, National School). His influence on Portuguese art continued after his death. He was the royal painter for the famous Retábulo do Altar das Relíquias de São Vicente in the Cathedral of Lisbon (Sé de Lisboa). The painting caught fire and was replaced by a Baroque structure. Parts of his work still exist and can be found in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga National (Museum of Ancient Art).

During the Golden Age of Portugal, in the late 15th century and early 16th century, Portuguese artists were influenced by Flemish art, and were in turn influential on Flemish artists of the same period. During this period, Portuguese art became internationally well-known, mostly because of its very original and diverse characteristics, but little is known about the artists of this time due to the medieval culture that considered painters to be artisans. The anonymous artists in the Portuguese "escolas" produced art not only for metropolitan Portugal but also for its colonies, namely Malacca or Goa and even Africa, gratifying the desires of local aristrocatic clients and religious clients.

In the 19th century naturalist and realist painters like Columbano, Henrique Pousão and Silva Porto revitalized painting against a decadent academic art.

In the early 20th century Portuguese art increased both in quality and quantity, mainly due to members of the Modernist movement like Amadeo de Souza Cardoso and Almada Negreiros. In the post-war years the abstractionist painter Vieira da Silva settled in Paris and gained widespread recognition, as did her contemporary Paula Rego.


Gil Vicente, 16th century Portuguese playwright.

Portugal never developed a great Dramatic theatre tradition due primarily to the fact that the Portuguese were more passionate about lyric or humorous works than dramatic art. Gil Vicente is often seen as the father of Portuguese theatre - he was the leading Portuguese playwright in the 16th century. During the 20th century, theatre found a way to reach out to the people, specially the middle class, through what in Portugal is known as "Revista" - a form of humorous and cartoonish theatre designed to expose and criticize social (and political) issues, but in a way that entertains and amuses the audience.

Gil Vicente (1435–1536) is considered the first great Portuguese playwright. Frequently called the father of Portuguese theatre, he portrays the society of the 16th century. Anticipating the seventeenth-century French writer Santeuil[disambiguation needed ]'s well-known phrase "castigat ridendo mores", Gil Vicente became famous for his satirical plays such as the "Triologia das Barcas" ("Auto da Barca do Inferno" (1517), "Auto da Barca do Purgatório" (1518); "Auto da Barca da Glória" (1518)). In these plays, he creates some characters who are representative of their social group. This results in not only comical, but also strong critical situations. Gil Vicente also wrote other important plays such as "Auto da Índia" (1509), "Auto da Fama" (1510), and "Farsa de Inês Pereira" (1523).

Another relevant playwright of the 16th century is António Ferreira (1528–1569), who wrote "A Castro" (1587), a well-known tragedy about the forbidden love between D. Pedro I and D. Inês de Castro. António Ferreira is considered the father of Renaissance culture in Portugal.

One of the most famous playwrights of the 18th century is António José da Silva (1705–1739), commonly known as "O Judeu" because of his Judaic origins. He wrote several plays such as "Os Encantos de Medeia" (1735), "As Variedades de Proteu" (1737) and "Precipício de Faetonte" (1738).

Almeida Garrett (1799–1854) was a turning point in Portuguese literature as far as the themes are concerned. His most outstanding play is "Frei Luís de Sousa" (1844), which became a classic of Portuguese theatre. Garrett also wrote "Um Auto de Gil Vicente" (1838), "Filipa de Vilhena" (1846) and "O Alfageme de Santarém" (1842). These three plays as well as "Frei Luís de Sousa" are somehow connected with Portuguese history. Furthermore, Garrett is also the founder of the "Conservatório Geral de Arte Dramática" as well as of the "Teatro Nacional D. Maria II".

As far as the 20th century is concerned, it's worth noticing Bernardo Santareno's (1920–1980) work. His most famous play is "O Judeu", based upon the life of António José da Silva, mentioned above. Santareno also wrote "A Promessa" (1957), "O Crime da Aldeia Velha" (1959) and "Anunciação" (1962). Most of his plays deal with universal questions such as liberty, oppression and discrimination.

Born in 1926, Luís de Sttau Monteiro (1926–1993) wrote several plays, some of them portraying and criticising Portuguese society of his time. His most famous play is "Felizmente Há Luar" (1961), which is a strong criticism of the political context of that time (dictatorship – Estado Novo). "O Barão" (1965), "A Guerra Santa" (1967) and "Sua Excelência" (1971) were also written by Sttau Monteiro.

In the 20th century theatre in Portugal became more popular with the "Revista" – a comical and satirical form of theatre. It is a creative way of expressing one's ideas as well as criticising political and social problems. The most important actors who performed this form of theatre in the 20th century were Vasco Santana (1898–1958), Beatriz Costa (1907–1996) and Ivone Silva (1935–1987). Nowadays it is worth mentioning Maria João Abreu, José Raposo and Fernando Mendes, who perform this form of theatre at the well known "Parque Mayer" (a theatre in Lisbon where the "Revista" used to be performed).

Important Portuguese actors are Ruy de Carvalho, Eunice Muñoz, Rui Mendes, Irene Cruz, Luís Miguel Cintra, just to name a few.

In later years, theatre in Portugal has developed into many other forms as in any other European country. Almost every repertoire can be seen in Portugal. Many companies have the works of Shakespeare, Molière, Brecht, Becket or Chekhov, and Portuguese classic and modern authors on their repertoire. Other companies show more experimental projects. All this makes the theatre repertoire very varied. Some of the most important professional theatre companies nowadays are: Teatro da Cornucópia, Teatro da Comuna, Teatro Aberto, Teatro Meridional, Teatro da Garagem, Companhia de Teatro de Almada, Companhia Teatral do Chiado, A Barraca, Teatro dos Aloés, Teatro Praga, Artistas Unidos, Seiva Trupe, As boas raparigas, ACTA, among many others.

Portugal hosts several festivals such as FITEI, ACERT and FIAR, and one of the most important is Festival Internacional de Teatro de Almada (International Theatre Festival of Almada), organized for 25 years by Companhia de Teatro de Almada (Almada Theatre Company), with directors Joaquim Benite and Vitor Gonçalves.

Festivities and holidays

During the summer, in the month of June, festivities dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares take place all over Portugal. Why the populace associated the saints to these pagan festivities is not known. But they are possibly related to Roman or local deities from the time before Christianity spread in the region. The three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. Common fare in these festivities are wine, água-pé (mostly grape juice), and traditional bread along with sardines. During the festivities are many weddings, traditional street dances and fireworks.

Saint Anthony is celebrated on the night of 12th-13 June, especially in Lisbon (where that saint was born and lived most of his life), with Marchas Populares (a street carnival) and other festivities. In the meantime, several marriages known as Casamentos de Santo António (Marriages of Saint Anthony) are made. But the most popular saint is Saint John, he is celebrated in many cities and towns throughout the country on the night of the 23rd-24th, especially in Porto and Braga, where the sardines, caldo verde (traditional soup) and plastic hammers to hammer in another person's head for luck are indispensable. The final saint is Saint Peter, celebrated in the night of 28th-29th, especially in Póvoa de Varzim and Barcelos, the festivities are similar to the others, but more dedicated to the sea and with an extensive use of fire (fogueiras). In Póvoa de Varzim, there is the Rusgas in the night, another sort of street carnival. Each festivity is a municipal holiday in the cities and towns where it occurs.

Carnival in Portugal.

Carnival is also widely celebrated in Portugal, some traditional carnivals date back several centuries. Loulé, Alcobaça, Mealhada, Funchal, Torres Vedras, Ovar and Figueira da Foz, among several other localities, hold several days of festivities, with parades where social and political criticism abound, along with music and dancing in an environment of euphorya. There are some localities which preserve a more traditional carnival with typical elements of the ancient carnival traditions of Portugal and Europe. However, several parades in most localities have adopted many elements of the tropical Brazilian Carnival.

On January 6, Epiphany is celebrated by some families, especially in the North and Center, where the family gathers to eat "Bolo-Rei" (literally, King Cake, a cake made with crystallized fruits); this is also the time for the traditional street songs - "As Janeiras" (The January ones).

Saint Martin Day, is celebrated on November 11. This day is the peak of three days, often with very good weather, it is known as Verão de São Martinho ("Saint Martin summer"), the Portuguese celebrate it with jeropiga (a sweet liqueur wine) and roasted Portuguese chestnuts (castanhas assadas), and it is called Magusto.

National holidays

Date Name Remarks
January 1 Ano Novo New Year's Day. Beginning of the year, marks the traditional end of "holiday season".
Tuesday, date varies Carnaval Carnival. (Also called Mardi Gras). Not an official holiday, but declared by the government as a non-working day. Very ancient festival celebrating the end of the winter. It gained Christian connotations, and now marks the first day of a period of 40 days before Easter Week (Semana Santa, Holy Week), thus also known as Entrudo.
Friday, date varies Sexta-Feira Santa Good Friday.
Sunday, date varies Páscoa Easter. Used for family gathering to eat Pão-de-Ló and "Folar" (an Easter cake) and Easter eggs. In the North, a sort of church members processions (compasso) visits and blesses every home with an open door, thus meaning they are Catholics. Traditionally, this is the second visit of children and non-married youngsters to their godparents, receiving an Easter gift. The first visit is on Palm Sunday, 7 days before, where children give flowers and palms to their godparents.
April 25 Dia da Liberdade Literally, "Freedom Day". Celebrates the Carnation Revolution, marking the end of the dictatorial regime. Event of 1974.
May 1 Dia do Trabalhador Labour Day.
Thursday, date varies Corpo de Deus Corpus Christi. Christian feast celebrating the Eucharist.
June 10 Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas Portugal Day. Marks the date of Camões death. Camões wrote The Lusiads, Portugal's national epic. Event of 1580. Celebrated in many of Portuguese communities in the United States of America, such as the Ironbound in Newark, New Jersey
August 15 Assunção Assumption of Mary.
October 5 Implantação da República Implantation of the Republic, or Republic Day. Event of 1910.
November 1 Todos os Santos All Saints Day. Day used for visiting deceased relatives.
December 1 Restauração da Independência Restoration of Independence. Event of 1640.
December 8 Imaculada Conceição Immaculate Conception. Patron Saint of Portugal since 1646.
December 25 Natal Christmas Day. Celebrated in the 24th to the 25th as a family gathering to eat codfish with potatoes and cabbage, roasted kid and turkey; seasonal sweets and dry fruits; drink Port wine; and share gifts.

Portuguese popular song: (English Translation)

  • "Santo António já se acabou. (Saint Anthony is over)
  • O São Pedro está-se a acabar. (Saint Peter is ending)
  • São João, São João, São João, (Saint John, Saint John, Saint John)
  • Dá cá um balão para eu brincar." (Give me a balloon, for me to play)

Sports and games

Football is the most popular and practiced sport in Portugal. Football started to become well known in Portugal in the final decades of the 19th century, brought by Portuguese students who returned from England.

The first person responsible for its implementation would have been Guilherme Pinto Basto (according to some people, his brothers Eduardo and Frederico would have brought the first ball from England). It was he who had the initiative to organise an exhibition of the new game, which took place in October 1888, and it was also him who organized the first football match in January of the following year. The match, played where today the Campo Pequeno bullring is located, involved opposing teams from Portugal and England. The Portuguese won the game 2-1. Consequently, football started attracting the attention of the high society, being distinguished by the Luso-British rivalry.

Later, the game spread, being practised in colleges and leading to the foundation of clubs all over the country. Until the end of the century, associations such as Clube Lisbonense, Carcavelos, Braço de Prata, the Real Ginásio Clube Português, the Estrela Futebol Clube, the Futebol Académico, the Campo de Ourique, the Oporto Cricket, and the Sport Clube Vianense were founded to practise this sport or created sections for competing. The first match, between Lisbon and Porto, took place in 1894, attended by King D. Carlos. The Clube Internacional de Futebol (founded in 1902) was the first Portuguese team to play abroad defeating, in 1907, the Madrid Futebol Clube in the Spanish capital.

Currently, of the most important teams of the sport in Portugal, the oldest is the Boavista Futebol Clube, which was founded in 1903. The Futebol Clube do Porto, after an unsuccessful attempt in 1893, appeared in 1906, stimulated by José Monteiro da Costa, among others. The Sporting Clube de Portugal was founded in 1906 by the Viscount of Alvalade and his grandson José de Alvalade. Sport Lisboa e Benfica, was born in 1904 (the club maintained the foundation date of Sport Lisboa, founded in 1904, when in 1908 assimilated the Grupo Sport Benfica, founded in 1906). They are all clubs that traditionally have several sports activities but they give great distinction to football, making use of teams of professional players, which frequently participate in European competitions.

In May 2006, the Portuguese national team was ranked 7th out of 205 countries by FIFA. The legendary Eusébio is still a symbol of Portuguese football. Luís Figo was voted 2001 Player of the Year by FIFA, after finishing 2nd in 2000. Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo are also noteworthy and Vítor Baía is the player in history with most titles won, including all European club cups. Moreover, José Mourinho is regarded as one of the most successful and well-paid football managers in football's history. The main domestic football competition is the Superliga where the dominating teams are S.L. Benfica, FC Porto and Sporting CP. Portugal hosted and nearly won EURO 2004, getting defeated in the final by surprise winner Greece. The Portuguese national team also reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1966, when Eusebio was the top scorer, with 9 goals, and also in 2006. The year 2006 was the year that Portugal nearly won the FIFA World Cup tournament, ranking 4th overall after being defeated by France and Germany's football teams. This was the first time since 1966 that the Portuguese football team had advanced to a such a high qualifying round in a World Cup tournament. The team was welcomed back proudly from its country.

Other than football, many other professional and well organized sport competitions take place every season in Portugal, including basketball, swimming, athletics, tennis, gymnastics, futsal, team handball and volleyball among the hundreds of sports played in this country.

Cycling, with Volta a Portugal being the most important race, is also popular.

In rink hockey Portugal is the country with most world titles: 15 World Championships and 20 European Championships, and in rugby sevens the Portuguese team has won many international trophies, having as of July 2006 five European Championship titles.

Golf is also worth mentioning, since its greatest players play in the sunny region of the Algarve during the "Algarve Open".

The Autódromo Fernanda Pires da Silva in the Estoril, near Lisbon, is the main Portuguese race track where many motorsport competitions are held, including the World Motorcycling Championship and A1 Grand Prix.

Rallying (with the Rally of Portugal and Rally Madeira) and off-road (with the Baja Portugal 1000 and recently Lisboa-Dakar) events also have international recognition.

Triathlon is also giving important steps thanks to the world cup leader Vanessa Fernandes and her European and world titles. She is also the duathlon European and world champion.

The national team of shotgun shooting sports won the gold medal in the teams event and Paulo Cleto won silver in the single men's competition.

The martial arts like judo have also brought many medals to this country, namely Telma Monteiro who conquered gold twice at the European Championships in the -52 kg category, bronze in 2005 world championship in Cairo and achieved silver in 2007 World Judo Championships. Nuno Delgado, who conquered the bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, also became the European champion in 1999 (in Bratislava) and vice-champion in the year of 2003.

Manuel Centeno is also a major name in the Portuguese sports as he conquered the national, European and the world titles, in 2006 in bodyboarding after being the European champion back in 2001.

In surfing, Justin Mujica, European surfing champion in 2004, is now back in the competitions after recovering from a knee injury. Tiago Pires reached the number one position at ASP WQS rating and will probably be part of the main surfing competition. Ruben Gonzalez is an international acclaimed surfer and the only one to achieve the national title in two consecutive tournaments.

The Portuguese team of basketball made a unique qualification to the European Championships and made through the second round where it was eliminated.

"Os Lobos" - national rugby team - made a dramatic qualification to the 2007 world championships, becoming the world's only all-amateur team ever to qualify for that kind of event.

In fencing, Joaquim Videira won the silver medal at the épée 2006 World Fencing Championships and has conquered numerous medals in the world cup.

The major Portuguese professional sports leagues, championships and events include:

The country has an ancient martial art known as "Jogo do Pau" (Portuguese Stick Fencing), used for self-protection and for duels between young men in disputes over young women. Having its origin in the Middle Ages, Jogo do Pau uses wooden staves as a combat weapon.

Other sports are the "Jogos Populares", a wide variety of traditional sports played for fun.

In addition to this, other popular sport-related recreational outdoor activities with thousands of enthusiasts nationwide include airsoft, fishing, golf, hiking, hunting and orienteering.


See also

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