Portugal is the oldest country in Europe.
In 1139, Portugal appointed King Afonso Henriques as its king. Lisbon is said to be four centuries older than Rome. Due to its excellent trading location, the Phoenicians settled in Lisbon around 1200 BC.
The world’s oldest bookstore is in Lisbon.
Book lovers will delight in a visit to Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon’s Chiado district. The book store was established in 1732. Its exterior façade is a spectacular display of mosaic tiles, worth admiring in their own right.
The secret recipe for Pastéis de Nata.
Crispy, creamy and sweet – there’s nothing like the original Pastéis de Nata (custard tart) from its home in Lisbon’s Belém district. Among the most fun facts about Portugal is that the family has kept the original recipe a secret since the 19th century. So, make a point of visiting this well-known bakery in Belém.
One of the world’s oldest universities is in Portugal.
Portuguese academics established the University of Coimbra in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. The University achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2013. Today, it is open to tourists who can visit its Royal Palace and the Joanine Library.
Portugal is one of the world’s top surf spots.
It may not be Hawaii, but one of our favourite fun facts about Portugal is that its 800km Atlantic coastline and temperate climate makes it a year-round surfing hotspot.
Piri-Piri originated in Portugal.
The world has Portugal to thank for piri-piri, the chilli sauce quite often liberally poured over the nation’s favourite churrasco chicken. The chilli that is the sauce’s main ingredient hails from South America, and it was from here that the Portuguese then took the chillis to Africa. It was here that the melange of chilli, garlic and lemon resulted in this famous sauce.
Port Wine is Portugal’s most famous export and its national drink.
Produced exclusively in Portugal’s UNESCO-listed Douro Valley, Port Wine is a sweet, red fortified wine. The area is the third-oldest protected wine region in the world and its produce became very popular with the English in the 18th century.
Portugal is the westernmost point of Europe.
While Portugal is set on the edge of the Iberian peninsula in south-western Europe, its archipelago of the Azores in the Atlantic ocean officially holds the title of being the westernmost point of Europe.
Fátima is a global pilgrimage centre.
The shrine of Fátima is a popular pilgrimage spot for Christian worshippers. It was here in 1917 that the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three young shepherds. In terms of the number of visiting pilgrims, it is second only to Rome in Europe.