So what’s that long bit there on the West side of Spain? Is that another region? West Spain? Or is that another country? YES! It’s called Portugal and boasts having the longest unchanged border in Europe! And if you’re honest with yourself, just how much do you know about this country? Let’s see. Capital, Lisbon. A famous person, Ronaldo. Language, Portuguese. Anything else?
Let’s face it, people's general knowledge of this country is poor. It’s just so far from the rest of Europe, all hidden away behind Spain. It’s high time we shed some light on this lovely country. However, if you want to understand it a bit better, we need to have a look at its history. I’m sure that you’re all capable of reading and the information is out there for all so I’m only going to touch on the four most important point here.
Sorry I have to include a point 0 here to quickly mention a few folks here, starting with the great merchants of the Phoenicians who, together with many Spanish places, made their first appearance here.
Then came … the Romans! They did get around, didn’t they? The area of Portugal was part of Hispania. They put a few bridges up here and there, found a few cities and left. Although nowadays there isn't much physical evidence of their rule there is something very important they left behind: WINE!
Then, as usual, came the Moors, these guys left behind some monuments as well, such as castles, forts and their general style of architecture.
It only took one man to wake up one day and say ‘well, this looks like a good day to found a country’ – and this was a knight called Henry. He sadly didn’t achieve this goal, but fear not, here’s Alfonso, his son, who in the 12th century officially founded the country. Yay for Alfonso!
2. The Age of Discovery
We have already seen how one man can make history alone. The same thing happened again when Vasco da Gamma walked on to his ship and said ‘I’m just gonna look around the corner to see if I can get more pepper from over there’. That ‘corner’ happened to be Africa and that ‘over there’ was India. He managed to establish a new Spice Route which basically made the country rich.
3. The Great Lisbon Earthquake
In 1755 on 1st November a huge earthquake shook the country. The range of its magnitude is estimated that it was between 8.5 – 9.0 and thought of as the deadliest earthquake in history. Its implications were great, from bringing the colonial ambitions to halt to the fact that the king became claustrophobic and decided to move out of the city and live in a tent.
4. The dictatorship
After this the country officially became a republic and had a new flag as well.
This is basically it in VERY small nutshell. You will see in the following blogs that everything relates to these events so well done for reading it all through. I’m sure these details will come in handy at some point in your life. Bring on a pub quiz!