Jewish Heritage Tours With A Gourmet Culinary Experience
Portugal – An Overview
In 1498, Portugal’s famed navigator Vasco Da Gama set up a sea route to India; and within half a century, with trading routes halfway round the world, Lisbon became one of the richest cities of Europe, controlling ports from Brazil to Macau, and importing citizens from afar who have contributed to the tolerant nature of the Portuguese. Such local architectural gems as the Dos Jeronimos Monastery commemorate the great navigators who set sail from the Belem neighbourhood of the capital. The atmospheric city of Porto, famous for port wine, and the standard bearer of that old world magic and glorious decadence that Portuguese cities are famed for, is second to Lisbon in size only. Porto sits at the mouth of the River Douro (translated as “river of gold”), and is home to charming stone-built villages spread over the luscious landscape.
The Portuguese countryside consists of deep valleys and terraced vineyards, as well as cork plantations and medieval castles. As in Spain, Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors have left their mark. Coimbra, above the River Mondego, is another of the nation’s “historic capitals” with its claim to the oldest university in Europe. In addition to Porto, Tomar and Sintra are Unesco World Heritage Sites, as is Evora, with its mysterious megaliths. The medieval walled city of Trancoso preserves ample evidence of its Jewish presence, as does picturesque Belmonte, half hidden in the bucolic countryside.