Portugal is famous for its explorers and navigators who sailed around the world during the Age of Discovery. Vasco da Gama opened up sea routes from Europe to India while Fernão de Magalhães (known as Magellan) was the first to circumnavigate the globe. Portuguese names have also been influential in the arts, including poets Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa.
The most treasured aspect of Portuguese culture is Fado, a style of music that emerged in Alfama but is also a traditional part of university life in Coimbra. Beloved across the nation as a true expression of Portuguese saudade, this yearning, melancholy music has a heartfelt, almost operatic style and is performed in Fado Houses, generally accompanied by Portuguese guitars.
One of the best-known Fado songs, ‘Casa Portuguesa’ by Amália Rodrigues, has the lyrics: “In a Portuguese house, there is good bread and wine on the table and if someone knocks at the door, they sit at the table with us”. This epitomises the spirit of Portuguese hospitality – humble, charming and welcoming.