The Seven Wonders of Portugal (Part I)

The hanging gardens, Temple of Artemis, the Pyramids of Egypt, Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of  Zeus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnasus, Pharos of Alexandria, the stories and mysteries that surround the Seven Wonders of the World still remain as fascinating and attracting to people as in the ancient times. In 2007, Portuguese people decided to present to the world their Seven Wonders of Portugal (Sete Maravilhas de Portugal), seven stories of the most beautiful, meaningful and symbolic places in Portugal that had played a significant part in the creation of Portuguese civilization and culture. The result? After a list of 793 national monuments, on July, 7th, 2007, the following winners were chosen: Guimarães Castle (Castelo de Guimarães), Obidos, Alcobaça Monastery (Mosteiro de Alcobaça), Batalha Monastery (Mosteiro da Batalha), Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), Pena National Palace (Palacio National da Pena), Tour of Belem (Torre de Belem).

Guimarães Castle

Passionate about history and mythology? Curious to discover the roots of the Portuguese nation? Then, you definitely have to visit Guimarães Castle (Castelo de Guimarães) also called “The cradle of the nation”. Built in the 10th century by order of Countess of Galicia, D.Mumadona Dias, as a fortification to defend the population against the Norman (Vikings) and the Moors (Arabs), the castle was extended in the 12th century to the present size (28 meters high with eight crenellated towers) by the first king of Portugal, Alonso Henriques. A great historical symbol of Portugal, the castle was also classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage. Located only 50 km away fromPorto, Guimarães, with all its imposing monuments should be a place to visit on your map, especially since in 2012 it will be the European Capital of Culture.

Obidos

Located North of the historical district of Sintra,100 km away from Lisbon, Obidos is one of the most preserved and outstanding medieval towns in Portugal. Imagine walking through small cobblestone streets, gazing at the colors of the houses with terracotta roofs and Gothic doorways, being mesmerized by the 13 meters high walls that surround and protect the old citadel…It is probably this romantic scenery that determined King Dinis to offer Obidos to Queen Isabel as a wedding present in 1282. Completing these medieval marvels of the world are the exquisite fountain from the 15th century, the renaissance Church of Santa Maria and Misericordia Church. What can be more relaxing and pleasant after this medieval adventure if not enjoying the pleasures of the sea: Nearby Obidos lies the large lagoon Lagao de Obidos. So, do not forget to bring your bathing suit or your surfing equipments with you!

Alcobaça Monastery

The Europe’s greatest Cistercian church is located 40 km away from Sintra, in the center of Portugal. Founded in 1153 and completed in 1233 by order of King Afonso Henriques as a promise to God, if He would help the Portuguese defeat the Moors, Mosteiro de Alcobaça (Alcobaça Monastery) is one of the most prestigious and imposing medieval monasteries of the entire continent. Due to the size of the monument (98 meters long), the purity of the architectural style (being the first monastery inPortugal built in the Gothic style), together with the beauty of the materials, Alcobaça Monastery was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Anxious to find out more? Start packing and prepare yourself because a long and adventurous journey lies ahead of us, a journey in pursuit of the following four wonders of Portugal.

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