Visitors to the beautiful country of Portugal will be fascinated to learn of its exciting and dramatic history, beginning with the earliest settlers around 35,000 years ago. The arrival of the Roman army was an essential step in the formation of the current Portugal culture and society; not only did they develop agriculture, vines and fishing, but also founded numerous cities including Lisbon, Braga and Coimbra. The different regions continued to be the subject of invasions and civil wars for many centuries, until the historic battle of Sao Manede on 24 June 1128, when Portugal can be said to be officially recognised as a single country.
Always known as a naval country, a vast armada of ships led to the conquering of other nations, creating the beginnings of the Portuguese Empire in the 15th century. Even today, The Azores and Madeira remain politically linked to Portugal, and eight former colonies still have Portuguese as their official language. The 17th century heralded a decline in Portugal’s fortunes, leading to Spanish rule that only ended following the Portuguese Restoration War. The next notable date in Portuguese history was November the 1st 1755 when Lisbon was razed to the ground by a violent earthquake, leading to a massive regeneration project, creating the world’s first quake-proof buildings.
The onset of the 19th century led to some crises including the capture of Lisbon following a French invasion, the Brazilian declaration of independence from Portugal and a clash with British forces in Africa. The First Republic represents a period from 1910 to 1926 and is known for is anti-religious stance, leading to a series of anti-Catholic laws and the plundering of churches and convents. Following political chaos and economic problems, the Estado Novo was established in 1933, transforming Portugal into a fascist regime, finally overturned in 1974. Portugal is now an essential member of the European Union, with a stable financial setting and many urban regeneration projects; a country with a fascinating history and a future to look forward to, drawing visitors from far and wide.