Portugal is an old country, as evidenced by the fact that it has Europe’s longest-standing border. Its nine centuries of history are filled with epic heroes, fierce battles and romantic legends, and visitors can find remnants of all of this anywhere in the country.

A certain type of black and white mosaic sidewalk can only be seen in Portugal and other lands where Portuguese is spoken. Manueline architecture, a Portuguese innovation, celebrates the great sea-faring explorations and discoveries of the 15th century. Side by side with Manueline architecture, visitors will find bombastic baroque style, or Gothic or medieval structures. The fight for Portugal’s border is evident in the medieval, walled towns dotting the plains of the Alentejo Region. Other towns, in the northern reaches, are built entirely of Portuguese granite.

Each generation of Portuguese seems to have produced a great poet or two, and their verses today, as in the past, resonate with love, loss and shipwreck These, in turn, have come to define the Portuguese. Today, Portugal’s culture is celebrated in music and art, in theater and dance, in food and wine, and in the historical monuments found throughout the country.


The second Music Days in Belem (Lisbon) celebrates with the theme, “The pleasure of playing together, April 18 – 20, with some excellent musicians making their premiere appearances in Portugal. The event will gather some of the best chamber ensembles in some 70 performances. Pedro Carneiro, will perform with the Tokyo String Quartet and will conduct the Orquestra de Câmara Portuguesa (Portuguese Chamber Orchestra). Others include the quartets Prazak, New Helsinki Quartet and the Leipziger Streichquartett, plus the cello octet Octeto Ibérico. The English Chamber Orchestra and the Neue Hofkapelle of Munich are also on hand. The festival will mostly feature classical music, but also some jazz, with a focus on Portuguese pianists.

Free admission to CCB every Thursday
From May through September, admission is free every Thursday to the Belem Cultural Center, with concerts that begin at 10:45 p.m.

Summer expands at Belem Cultural Center
Magic and circus shows, theater and dance performances and a myriad of other events will be part of the offerings of the Belem Cultural Center throughout July and August, as the center expands its warmer month offerings. Many events will take place in the open air, in green spaces around the city.

Lisbon Jazz Summer School (LJSS)
The Lisbon Jazz Summer School debuts this summer at the Belem Cultural Center, July 18 through 26, with classes and concerts as several locations. Classes for youth are open to both Portuguese and international students.

Works from the Louvre at the Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

The Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon attracted some 700,000 visitors last year to its 14 different exhibits. Just opened at the museum is “Greek Taste: The Birth of Neoclassicism in France, 1750-1775.” The exhibit runs through May 4, 2008. Greek Taste was organized by the Department of Decorative Arts of the Louvre Museum and includes 100 works, most of them from the Louvre. Another exhibition, “Come and Go: Fiction and Reality” explores film culture, on display until June 1, 2008.

Serralves Museum features 14 new exhibits in 2008
The Serralves Museum located in Porto will feature 14 new exhibits in 2008. They include the current exhibit, Julio Pomar, one of Portugal‘s most famous artists in social realism, until April 20, 2008. Pomar was active in the resistance to fascism movement in Portugal. The exhibit focuses on his work from the 1960s and ’70s.

Wine estates offer lodging, food and scenery, too
The Quinta de Cabriz, in the Dao wine country of Portugal’s Centro Region, has been inviting visitors to its wine estate since 1993, and now other estates in Portugal are following suit. At the Quinta do Encontro, modern architecture blends with the estate and visitors are offered roast suckling pig, Bairrada style, from the estate’s wood ovens. At the the Herdade Monte da Cal in the town of Fronteira, in the Alentejo Region, has added a new restaurant and tasting room, and offers an introduction to the wine culture of southern Portugal.