Portugal Culture

Portuguese culture has been influenced by the three primary cultures from which it derives: the Latin, the Visigoth and the Muslim.
Portugal more than any other country mixed with its colonies, so much so that they were declared provinces and the people spoke the same language and held the same passport. Unlike other colonising countries the Portuguese were encouraged to mix with the populations of the countries they occupied by making multiethnic marriages legal. A large part of today’s population consists of “retournados”, people from the colonies who moved to Portugal in the 1970s’. Lisbon in particular is one of the most multicultural cities in Europe. African authors are considered part of Portuguese Literature, they write in Portuguese and share the same history. Important names recognised worldwide are Mia Couto and Pauline Chiziane from Mozambique, Jose’ Luandino Vieira from Angola and Germano Almeida from Cape Verde.
Lisbon has a number of important libraries, including the Library of the Academy of Sciences, the Ajuda Library, the National Library, and the Military Historical Archives. Various specialized libraries are attached to the universities.
Museums of archaeology, art, and ethnography are found in Portugal’s main cities. The art museum in Coimbra is famous for its collection of 16th-century sculpture; the museum in Évora is known for Roman sculpture and 16th-century paintings. The National Museum of Ancient Art, in Lisbon, houses decorative art and paintings from the 12th to the 19th century. Also in Lisbon are the National Museum of Contemporary Art, which was reopened as the Chiado Museum in early 1995; the National Museum of Natural History; the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, with a collection of fine art dating from 2800 BC to the 20th century; the Ethnographical Museum; and the Archaeological Museum.

Temple of Diana

Some of the relics found in Portugal date from prehistoric times. Dolmens, ancient stone burial chambers, have been found along the Atlantic coast, and in the Algarve region, tombs dating from the Iron Age have been discovered. The Temple of Diana in the southeast, the ruins of the city of Conimbriga on the western coast, and the bridge of Chaves in Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro in the east are the only examples of Roman architecture left. The azulejos, the ceramic ornaments, which are found everywhere in Portugal, inside the houses and in the patios were brought by the Arabs. The Moorish influence is also seen in the whitewashed and square shaped houses typical of the Algarve and Alentejo.
The Portuguese are a musical people, and their folk music ranges from very lively songs and dances to sad laments. Their most well-known group is the Madredeus, famous all over Europe and the tendency in today’s age is definitely rock music. Fado is the popular melancholic song that tells stories of life, romantic and tragic stories surrounded by passion and sorrow, happiness and sadness just like life is. Fado expresses the missing of something or someone, the feeling of nostalgia and acceptance of destiny. As we know it today, Fado originated in the 18th century in the common bars surrounding the port of Lisbon. Amalia Rodrigues was the most famous Fado singers of all times.
Portuguese film is very arty and not at all commercial treating serious topics. The production is limited to few tens of films a year, which are realised with public funding and are rarely exported. Tres Irmaos by Teresa Villaverde in 1994 made it outside Portugal and was recognised internationally with the leading actress winning Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival.