Portugal developed a specific culture while being influenced by different civilisations that crossed the Mediterranean and the European continent or were introduced when it played an active role in the era of discoveries. In the 1990s and 2000s (decade), Portugal modernised its public cultural institutions, in addition to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, established in 1956.
These include the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon, the Serralves Foundation and the Casa da Música, both in Porto, as well as new public cultural institutions such as municipal libraries and concert halls that have been built or renovated in many municipalities across the country. Portugal has fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking 8th in Europe and 17th in the world.
Traditional architecture is distinctive and includes Manueline, also known as Portuguese Late Gothic, a sumptuous, composite style of Portuguese architectural ornamentation from the first decades of the sixteenth century. A twentieth-century interpretation of traditional architecture, the soft Portuguese style, is widespread in major cities, especially Lisbon. Modern Portugal has produced world-famous architects such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, Álvaro Siza Vieira (both Pritzker Prize winners) and Gonçalo Byrne. In Portugal, Tomás Taveira is also notable, especially for stadium design.
Portuguese cinema has a long tradition dating back to the birth of this medium at the end of the 19th century. Portuguese directors such as Arthur Duarte, António Lopes Ribeiro, António Reis, Pedro Costa, Manoel de Oliveira, João César Monteiro, Edgar Pêra, António-Pedro Vasconcelos, Fernando Lopes, João Botelho and Leonel Vieira are among those who have achieved fame. Among the most famous Portuguese film actors are Joaquim de Almeida, Daniela Ruah, Maria de Medeiros, Diogo Infante, Soraia Chaves, Ribeirinho, Lúcia Moniz and Diogo Morgado.
Portuguese literature, one of the first western literatures, developed through text and song. By 1350, the Portuguese-Galician troubadours extended their literary influence over most of the Iberian Peninsula. Gil Vicente (c. 1465-c. 1536), was one of the founders of the Portuguese and Spanish dramatic tradition.
The adventurer and poet Luís de Camões (c. 1524-1580) wrote the epic poem “Os Lusíadas” (The Lusiades), with Virgil’s Aeneid as the main influence. Modern Portuguese poetry is rooted in neoclassical and contemporary styles, as the example of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) shows. Modern Portuguese literature is represented by authors such as Almeida Garrett, Camilo Castelo Branco, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes and Miguel Torga. José Saramago, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, is particularly popular and distinguished.
Portuguese cuisine is very diverse. The Portuguese eat a lot of dry cod (bacalhau in Portuguese), for which there are hundreds of recipes. There are more than enough bacalhau dishes for every day of the year. Two other popular fish recipes are grilled sardines and calderada, a potato-based stew that can be made with different types of fish. Typical Portuguese meat recipes, which can be made from beef, pork, lamb or chicken, are cozido à portuguesa, feijoada, frango de churrasco, leitão (roast suckling pig) and carne de porco à alentejana. The arroz de sarrabulho (rice cooked in pig’s blood) or the arroz de cabidela (rice and chicken cooked in chicken’s blood) are very popular dishes in the north.
Typical fast food dishes are Francesinha (Frenchie) de Porto and the sandwiches Bifanas (grilled pork) or Prego (grilled beef), which are famous throughout the country. The art of Portuguese pastry-making has its origins in the many medieval Catholic monasteries scattered throughout the country. These monasteries managed to create a spectacular range of different pastries with very few ingredients (mainly almonds, flour, eggs and a little liqueur), of which the pastéis de Belém (or pastéis de nata), which originated in Lisbon, and the sheep moles from Aveiro are examples. Portuguese cuisine is very diverse, with different regions having their own traditional dishes. The Portuguese have a culture of good food and there are myriads of good restaurants and small typical tasquinhas throughout the country.
Portuguese wines have enjoyed international recognition since the time of the Romans, who associated Portugal with their god Bacchus. Today, the country is very well known among wine lovers and its wines have received several international awards. Some of the best wines of Portugal are: Vinho Verde, Vinho Alvarinho, Vinho do Douro, Vinho do Alentejo, Vinho do Dão, Vinho da Bairrada and the sweet ones: port, Madeira wine, Moscatel de Setúbal and Favaios. Port and Madeira Wine are particularly appreciated in many parts of the world.
Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The best known is fado, a melancholic urban music from Lisbon, usually associated with the Portuguese guitar and saudade, nostalgia. Also notable is the fado of Coimbra, a unique kind of “serenade” fado. Internationally renowned performers include Amália Rodrigues, Carlos Paredes, José Afonso, Mariza, Carlos do Carmo, António Chainho, Mísia and Madredeus.
Besides fado and folk, the Portuguese also listen to pop and other types of modern music, especially from North America and the UK, as well as a wide range of Portuguese, Caribbean and Brazilian artists and groups. Internationally known artists include Dulce Pontes, Moonspell, Buraka Som Sistema, Blasted Mechanism and The Gift, the latter two of which were nominated for an MTV Europe Music Award.
There are several summer music festivals in Portugal, such as Festival Sudoeste in Zambujeira do Mar, Festival de Paredes de Coura in Paredes de Coura, Festival Vilar de Mouros near Caminha, Festival Boom in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, NOS Alive, Sumol Summer Fest in Ericeira, Rock in Rio Lisboa and Super Bock Super Rock in Greater Lisbon. Outside the summer season, Portugal has a large number of festivals aimed more at an urban audience, such as Flowfest or Hip Hop Porto. In addition, one of the biggest international trance festivals is held every two years in Goa, Boom Festival, which is also the only festival in Portugal to have won international awards: European Festival Award 2010 – Green’n’Clean Festival of the Year and the Greener Festival Award Outstanding 2008 and 2010. There are also the student festivals Queima das Fitas, which are big events in several cities in Portugal. In 2005, Portugal hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards at the Pavilhão Atlântico in Lisbon.
In the field of classical music, Portugal is represented by names such as the pianists Artur Pizarro, Maria João Pires, Sequeira Costa, the violinists Carlos Damas, Gerardo Ribeiro and, in the past, the great cellist Guilhermina Suggia. Among the best-known composers are José Vianna da Motta, Carlos Seixas, João Domingos Bomtempo, João de Sousa Carvalho, Luís de Freitas Branco and his pupil Joly Braga Santos, Fernando Lopes-Graça, Emmanuel Nunes and Sérgio Azevedo. Similarly, contemporary composers such as Nuno Malo and Miguel d’Oliveira have achieved international success in writing original music for film and television.
Portugal has a rich history of painting. The first known painters date back to the 15th century – like Nuno Gonçalves – from the period of Gothic painting. José Malhoa, known for his work Fado, and Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro (who painted the portraits of Teófilo Braga and Antero de Quental) were both references in naturalistic painting.
In the 20th century came modernism and with it the greatest Portuguese painters: Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, who was strongly influenced by French painters, especially the Delaunays. Among his most famous works is the Canção Popular a Russa e o Fígaro. Other great modernist painter/writers include Carlos Botelho and Almada Negreiros, a friend of the poet Fernando Pessoa, who painted his portrait (that of Pessoa). He was strongly influenced by Cubist and Futurist tendencies.
Among the outstanding international personalities in the field of visual arts today are the painters Vieira da Silva, Júlio Pomar, Helena Almeida, Joana Vasconcelos, Julião Sarmento and Paula Rego.
Football is the most popular sport in Portugal. There are several football competitions, ranging from the local amateur level to the world-class professional level. The legendary Eusébio is still an important symbol of Portuguese football history. Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, winners of the FIFA World Player of the Year award and the FIFA Ballon d’Or, are two world-class Portuguese footballers. The leaders of Portuguese football are also outstanding, with José Mourinho and Fernando Santos among the best known.
Portugal’s national football team – Seleção Nacional – won a European Championship, UEFA Euro 2016, with a 1-0 victory in the final against tournament hosts France. Portugal also finished second at Euro 2004 (hosted by Portugal), third at the 1966 FIFA World Cup? and fourth at the 2006 FIFA World Cup? At youth level, Portugal have won two FIFA Youth World Cups (1989 and 1991) and several UEFA European Youth Championships.
S.L. Benfica, Sporting CP and FC Porto are the biggest sports clubs in terms of popularity and number of trophies won, often referred to as “the big three”. They have won eight titles in UEFA European club competitions, have appeared in numerous finals and have been in the finals almost every season. In addition to football, many Portuguese sports clubs, including the “Big Three”, participate in a number of other sporting events with varying degrees of success and popularity, including roller hockey, basketball, futsal, handball and volleyball. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) – Federação Portuguesa de Futebol – organises the annual Algarve Cup, a prestigious women’s football tournament held in the Algarve, part of Portugal.
The Portuguese national rugby team qualified for the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the Portuguese national rugby team participated in the Rugby World Series.
In athletics, the Portuguese have won numerous gold, silver and bronze medals at European, World Championships and Olympic Games. Cycling, of which the Volta a Portugal is the most important race, is also a popular sporting event and includes professional cycling teams such as Sporting CP, Boavista, Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira and União Ciclista da Maia.
The country has also excelled in sports such as fencing, judo, kite surfing, rowing, sailing, surfing, shooting, triathlon and windsurfing, winning several European and world titles. Paralympic athletes have also won numerous medals in sports such as swimming, boccia and wrestling.
In motorsport, Portugal is internationally renowned for the Rally Portugal and the re-established Estoril, Algarve and Porto road circuits, which host a stage of the WTCC every two years, as well as a number of internationally renowned drivers in various motorsports.
In equestrian sport, Portugal has won the only World Championship in Horseball and Potato (2006), placed third in the first Horseball World Championship (2008 in Ponte de Lima, Portugal) and has several victories in the European Working Equitation Championship.
As for water sports, there are two major sports in Portugal: swimming and water polo. Northern Portugal has its own original martial art, Jogo do Pau, where fighters use sticks to compete against one or more opponents. Other outdoor sports activities popular with thousands of enthusiasts across the country include airsoft, fishing, golf, hiking, hunting and orienteering.
Portugal is one of the best golf destinations in the world. It has won several awards at the World Golf Awards. Its climate makes it possible to play all year round.