Portugal is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and is limited by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Portuguese territory also comprises the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores.
We can start talking about this country’s history with the Roman occupation of the territory located in the east of Spain, which encountered a fierce resistance of a Celtiberian tribe, the Lusitanian. Even after its defeat, its name was preserved in Lusitania, a territory which encompassed what today is called Portugal.
Later on, the Moorish invasion took place and the Iberian Peninsula was controlled by the Moors throughout a 300-year period. The Christian Reconquista took a while and the south of Portugal remained under the Moorish dominance for 500 years.
During the Reconquista, a small county of the Kingdom of León was born, centered in the Douro river, called Portucale.
This became independent when D. Afonso Henriques defeated the Moors in Ourique, in the year of 1139. And this was the birth of Portugal.
The Christian Reconquista advanced to the south and in 1249 it was finally complete when D. Afonso III conquered Faro, in Algarve. With the Portuguese position already strengthened, the conquering period then began, as well as the maritime discoveries in Africa, Far East and Brazil. The trade carried out in these countries gave rise to great wealth and Portugal assumed itself as a trading superpower.
After this period, one has to underline the years of Spanish dominance, the Prime Minister Marquis of Pombal, who reformed the government, trading and education. He had a pivotal role during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. I’ll speak more about that in another article.
Also important was the civil war between the absolutists and the liberals, the Republican uprising which forced D. Manuel II to find exile in Gibraltar (after living in London) and the military coup which paved the route for the establishment of the Estado Novo and Salazar’s oppressive regime. The painful return to democracy happened on the April 25th of 1974 when the military officers, unhappy with the colonial wars in Africa, unleashed Portugal from decades of isolation.
These are some historical points of this wonderful country, in which I was born and where I love to live. Knowing its history helps to understand what one sees when traveling throughout this land. The only one in the world where the word “saudade” is spoken, did you know that?
Follow the upcoming articles and get to know Portugal a little bit better.