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Charles Lindbergh might have received global recognition for his solo air crossing of the Atlantic in 1927, but it was two Portuguese pilots - Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral (pictured left and right, respectively) - who had previously set the pace five years earlier with their historic journey from Portugal to Brazil, the world’s first-ever flight over the South Atlantic.
Sweeping across much of the northern and central parts of Madeira island in the Atlantic, the world's largest remaining expanse of primeval laurel forest not only dates back to the dinosaurs but has somehow survived almost six hundred years of human habitation.
With a height of 1,993 metres, Estrela (meaning star) is by far the highest and most imposing of all the mountains on the Portuguese mainland. Topped only by Pico in the Azores, it is an integral part of the central chain of Iberian mountains and the main feature in a magical land of cobbled roads, Roman bridges, ancient castles, gushing waterfalls, stately manor-houses and tiny villages stretched out along a fertile plateau between the Zêzere and Mondego rivers.
Lisbon, along with its glorious stretch of golden coastline, was a hive of spying activity during the Second World War, with many secret agents from both sides operating under the cover of their diplomatic status. Portugal’s neutrality both encouraged and facilitated the presence of some of history’s most celebrated spies, including 007 creator Ian Fleming, actor Leslie Howard and British author Graham Greene, among many others.
Over the centuries, Chaves has been fought over by the Romans, the French during the Peninsular War and repeated Spanish invaders. Thermal springs and nearby gold deposits encouraged the Romans to establish an important stronghold there in AD 78, while their emperor Vespasiano christened the town Aquae Flaviae in recognition of the quality of its natural spring waters.
History has shaped the Portuguese capital with a succession of architectural influences over the centuries, most notably the Moors who occupied the city for more than four hundred years. With its splendid mix of styles and designs, Lisbon has become a popular place of pilgrimage for lovers of fine and intricate stonework, examples of which can be seen in Lisbon's 12th-century Romanesque cathedral, the pure classicism of the church of São Vicente de Fora and the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery (pictured above).