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Culture of Portugal - An Insider Guide


Fado is one of the joys of Culture of Portugal. In recent years there has been a tremendous surge in popularity of this music.


Amalia Rodrigues was the greatest star of Fado and she inspired a whole generation of wonderful singers like Mariza pictured above Cristina Branco and Ana Moura.

In the Summer in Portugal there are many subsidized fado concerts all over the country in historic and beautiful settings. Watching these charismatic singers in the warmth of a Portuguese summer night is an unforgettable experience.

Culture of Portugal - the past brought into the present.A Vida Portuguesa in the Chiado looks more like a museum than a shop. A treasure trove of 20th Century Portuguese Culture - a great place to browse the products from Portugal's past.

Because it was a closed country for so long the styles are particularly interesting from a design perspective.

An Icon of the Culture of Portugal - Campo Pequeno once simply the home of Bullfighting - now there are concerts and events of every type here as well as relaxing restaurants and a shopping centre.

The Culture of Portugal is vital and diverse. There are ten million Portuguese living in Portugal and they are very proud of the heritage. Each region of the country has different customs, but they all love food, dancing, music and the local Festivals.

Lisbon is a big urban center but it is also a collection of villages and when St Antonio's night comes around each competes to have the best party in town. The streets are electric in June when the Lisbon festivals are on. There are so many concerts and street events in Summer it is impossible to see everything.

n June the streets are full of festivities. The biggest street party is San Antonio - June 12th when whole districts eat together on long tables outside.

However, Portuguese Culture is not all folksy parties. The Portuguese love Books and Theatre and Art. There are classical concerts in historic Houses and Dance and Jazz festivals in many towns.

The famous Fado singers all sing in small locations in the summer months. If you are lucky you can catch one of the greats singing to about 70 people in a local historic building.

There are great museums like the Gulbenkian and Belem's Berado collection in Lisbon and now a fantastic new Paula Rego museum has opened in Cascais just 30 minutes down the coast from the city.

Portugal is a vibrant Cultural Centre with excellent examples of all the Arts.

Popular Culture - Food, Fado, Football and Festivals

We have to begin somewhere so let us start with the more popular aspects of Portuguese Culture.

The Portuguese are famous for the love of the three Fs - Food, Fado and Football. I would two more Festivals and Feiras - Markets.

People here are absolutely fanatical about Food. If you come from an Anglo Saxon country the Portuguese fascination with food might seem overdone - that is until you begin to explore the tastes.

The Portuguese have as many words for fish as perhaps the Eskimos have for snow. The intricacies of fresh local cheeses and hams will be discussed at length. The best way to cook Bachalao is a national obsession - there are at least 365 one for each day of the year.

Food accompanies all big events in the country and the Portuguese are justifiably proud of their cuisine.

The influence of Portuguese emigration and colonial exploration is everywhere.The sea is always an influence and fish is abundant.The Portuguese also use spices and sauces with sophistication, however, in summer everyone delights in simple charcoaled grilled sardines and meat.

See Great Portuguese Food for more Inside Information on Portuguese Cuisine. The Culture of Portugal is rich in Music. Each region has it's own traditions.

Lisbon and Coimbra have distinct and sophisticated styles of Fado and young musicians are emerging each year to expand and develop the musical scene.

Music is so rich here we have dedicated three pages to it. See Modern Fado for the new Fado singers that are taking Fado to the world.

Or see Music in Portugal for a look at portuguese Roots music and recent developments in accoustic styles. or explore Fado History and get some insight in to the greats of the past.

Camane - the leading male Fado singer performing in the historic gardens of the Marquis de Pombal at the Oeiras festival 2009.An unforgettable occasion.

The Summer means festivals in Portugal and from May to October the whole country is buzzing with activities. Lisbon is at it's best in June at the San Antonio Festivities. Nearby at the beach, Oeiras and Cascais have festivals throughout the Summer.

Most events including Fado concerts are free. Sophisticated Sintra has jazz and classical concerts in May June and July.

Almada on the opposite side of the Tajus from Lisbon has an International Theatre festival in July.

Sesimbra thirty minutes south of Lisbon is particularly rich in Festivals from May to September. This town like many other fishing ports- Ericeira Peniche Nazare - celebrates its ties to the ocean with processions in the water involving the blessing of boats and fishermen.

Obidos north of Lisbon is famous for its Christmas Fair the truly spectacular Medieval Fair In July and the amazing Chocolate Festival in November which features huge sculptures - made of Chocolate of course.

Portugal celebrates its history and its traditions in every region of the country. The use of the land is central to the themes of the Festival in the Centre and South Horses,

Bulls Wild Pig are celebrated in the North the grape is central. All along the Douro Lima and Minho rivers there are great wine festivals at the start of Autumn. By the Coast the sea is ever present in Festivities.

Historic Ponte de Lima in the North is celebrated for its Festivals of wine , horsemanship and gardens and has possibly the most beautiful setting of all towns in Portugal on the banks of the river Lima.

Viana do Castelo has a festival in August which is the most famous in Portugal for traditional Costume and Folk Dancing.


Culture of Portugal. Every small town around the country has a market, usually weekly.

The combination of historic buildings and stalls is lovely recalling times past. There also special festive markets during the Patron Saint festivities.

The Portuguese towns all have markets dating back to medieval times. These are now not only great places for bargains they offer an insight into Portuguese life and culture.

You can see all the necessary products for daily life in each region on sale as well as the handcrafts for which each town is famous.

The most famous market of all is in Barcelos in the Minho region where every Thursday the town becomes home to hundreds of stalls. It is particularly famous for its pottery.

Our favourite is in near by Ponte de Lima the market held on alternate Mondays on the banks of the river is a chance to step back in time to a less pressured style of consumerism. The fruit and vegetables on sale are amazing and the local smoked sausages are incredibly flavoursome.

Near Lisbon the Carcavelos market on Thursdays is very popular.

Culture of Portugal - Portuguese Words

The Portuguese love their language and it is a source of great pride. Speaking Portuguese correctly is encouraged through TV programmes and Portuguese is overseen by a Lusofone Academy who carefully monitor the development of the language. Trying to protect it from Brazilian slang and English imports whilst keeping it alive and receptive to change.

Poets are central to Portuguese culture, Luis de Camoes the author of the Luciads which celebrate the Portuguese voyages of discovery is taught to all children at school.

Pessoa the great twentieth century poet of Lisbon is honoured with new editions of his works and new statues in the city. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and Alexander O'Neil are two more recent great Portuguese poets who are also widely read.

Poetry is written and read throughout the country. Every small town seems to have its poets and the book fairs which occur throughout the country are hugely popular events often feature poetry rreading.

There are two great Portuguese novelists at the present time. Nobel prize winner Jose Saramargo and Antonio Lobo Antunes who the Portuguese themselves rate very highly.

Fado the great Lisbon and Coimbra musical style is unthinkable without the Portuguese Language - its sounds, and its structure and above all Portuguese words.

Amalia the great Fado singer commissioned many songs from poets. One of the leading modern Fado singers Cristina Branco likens words to magic and chooses poetry as the source of her songs.

Camane the leading male Fado singer places great emphasis on the stress of individual words and phrases in order to reveal the inner flow of his Fado.