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Towering over Lisbon's southern coastline, the great limestone ridge of the Serra da Arrábida, 40 km south of the city and clearly visible from its higher points, is home to the world’s oldest living examples of Mediterranean vegetation.
Situated high on a plateau near Portugal’s north-eastern frontier with Spain, the ancient city of Bragança was once the seat of the Dukes of Bragança, Portugal's fourth and final dynasty, which ruled the country from 1640 to 1910.
Portugal's most celebrated poet, Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524-1580), lived an extraordinarily eventful life by any stretch of the imagination. As a young man he fought in Morocco and paid with the loss of an eye, followed by a period of imprisonment in Lisbon for taking part in a street fight. He was released on condition that he served the king's militia in India, thus flinging him into a reckless and dangerous life of adventure.
Portugal is synonymous with bird-watching; the two go hand-in-hand. Rich in both salt and freshwater wetlands, the country has a great abundance of birdlife all year round, some of which is quite rare. The combined characteristics of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts attract a wider variety of species than many other destinations. Indeed, it's a preferred place of permanent habitation for many birds and an ideal spot for extended stopovers for others during migration.
Set high on a hill looking over the seafront, Porto Moniz is a remote coastal town located at the north-westernmost point of Madeira, well sheltered by a narrow peninsula that points toward a picturesque islet called Ilhéu Mole.
The Moors, Romans and Phoenicians helped create the charming town of Lagos in the western Algarve and parts of its ancient wall still stand guard. A modern statue of Henry the Navigator holding a sextant and gazing out to sea recalls the port’s most memorable role in Portugal's history.
Lawrence's has a history like no other place in Portugal. Arguably the second-oldest hotel establishment in Europe, and without doubt the most ancient in all the Iberian Peninsula, it is intimate enough for guests to quickly absorb its exquisite 18th-century character.
The history of Portugal's ground-breaking association with the seas spanned a hundred years from 1415-1515. Widely labelled as the Age of the Discoveries, this epoch-making period saw Portuguese navigators sail across uncharted seas to break out of the confines of Europe and discover the New World.
Portugal has a rich musical heritage, flavoured by the meanderings of early medieval troubadours when Europe's south-westernmost country ruled half the world. Today it's the soulful ballads of the fervent fado singers in Lisbon's ancient Alfama and Bairro Alto quarters who continue to entrance visitors from far-away lands.