Portugal – GENERAL INFORMATION – Culture


Portugal is an ancient self-governing nation and for more than 1000 years it has managed to maintin its uniqueness by a self-governing venture, thus it has a prosperous and unique cultural legacy, influenced by the various civilizations that crossed the Mediterranean world. It has always absorbed habits and traditions from early civilizations and from the regions that it conquered and discovered throughout the world during the Portuguese empire.Countless festivals to pagan local and Roman deities were transformed into countless festivals to Christian saints; only some pagan festivals have changed little over 2,000 years due the religious passion of the Middle Ages and the inquisition.Portuguese music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The most renowned Portuguese music is Fado, a form of melancholic music. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese guitar and the Portuguese word saudade. Although without an accurate equivalent in English, saudade is a common human feeling, it occurs when one is in love with someone or something; it conveys a complex mixture of sadness, pain, nostalgia, happiness and love. Fado origins are probably from a mixture of African slave rhythms with traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with Arabic influence. There are two varieties of Fado: Lisbon and Coimbra. Lisbon Fado was primarily of popular origins, often performed by women, while Coimbra’s had a more literate vein and was often performed by men; both are nowadays seen as ethnic music for a sophisticated audience. Some of the most notable performers internationally are Amália Rodrigues, Mariza, Mísia, Dulce Pontes, Madredeus, and Cristina Branco.Portugal is in a rural and urban duality where the Portuguese pop-rock and Hip Hop Tuga (a mixture of Hip-Hop, African music and Reggae performed by African-Portuguese) are popular with the younger and urban population and pimba (a fun and simple variety of popular music) and folklore are trendy in the rural areas.Portuguese literature is one of the earliest western literatures, and it developed as the 13th century arrived with texts and songs. And until 1350, the Portuguese-Galician troubadours spread their literary influence to most of the Iberian Peninsula. The adventurer Luís de Camões (c.1524 – 1580) wrote the epic The Lusiad, a work that he developed in his journeys in Africa and Asia. However, he was shipwrecked in Vietnam, and he saved himself and his work by floating on a board. Modern Portuguese poetry, since the 19th century, has its roots in a handful of relevant poets, ranging from neo-classicism to contemporary styles. A famous poet is Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935), he wrote poetry in the voice, style and manner of many fictional poets under a large number of heteronyms. Modern literature also became internationally known, mostly the works of Almeida Garrett, Alexandre Herculano, Eça de Queirós, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, António Lobo Antunes and the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature winner, José Saramago.

Portuguese traditional architecture is notable and unique with several examples throughout the world, some of which are classified world heritage sites. Modern Portugal has one of the best architecture schools in the world, known as “Escola do Porto” or School of Porto, renowned by the names of Souto Moura and Alvaro Siza.

cultureMariza, the new Fado Diva. She performed a duet with Sting for the Athens 2004 Olympic games.


A typical aspect of Portugal is its architecture, influenced by several early civilizations.