15 Jul 25 Portuguese Places to See before You Die
In 2003, American journalist Patricia Schultz launched the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”. Together with UNESCO, she gathered information on the most spectacular places on four continents.
Of course, the Portuguese language had to be a part of this! 25 of the 1,000 places are Portuguese-speaking locations. We will now describe them one-by-one below.
Pousada Rainha Dona Santa Isabel, Alentejo
This historical luxury inn, or “pousada”, is located at the highest point of the city of Estremoz, within the confines of the castle. Dating from the 17th century, it is classified as a historic Portuguese inn.
Évora is the only Portuguese city which belongs to the Most Ancient European Towns Network. Its well-preserved historical centre is one of the richest in monuments in all of Portugal, earning it the nickname of the “Museum City”. It was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986.
Marvão is located in the Portalegre District at the top of the Sapoio Mountains, at an altitude of 860 metres. The town and the rugged mountains where it is located have been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage candidates since 2000.
The Buçaco National Forest, which exists to this day in the Buçaco Mountains, was planted by order of the Discalced Carmelites in the early 17th century. The Santa Cruz do Buçaco Convent, now the Bussaco Palace Hotel, was built at this same time.
The forest is a protected area, with plant species from throughout the entire world – some gigantic – along with the world-famous Mexican cypress (Cupressus lusitanica).
In 2007, the Seven Wonders of Portugal contest ranked the Castle of Óbidos number two among the seven most important monuments in Portuguese architectural heritage. In 2015, UNESCO also declared Óbidos a “City of Literature”, as part of the Creative Cities Network program.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is part of a complex which includes the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s main building and park. Its collection features approximately 6,000 pieces of ancient and modern art, of which only 1,030 are on public display.
Sintra is a Portuguese town in the district and metropolitan area of Lisbon. It is known for its Romantic architecture, resulting in its classification as the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra” and UNESCO World Heritage.
Madeira Island is the main island of the Madeira island chain located in the Atlantic Ocean. The laurel (“laurissilva”) forest which covered the island before it was colonized was almost burned down entirely by the first settlers, with only a few hectares remaining in the island’s northern valleys. It was classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999. Today’s forest includes native species as well as plants brought by the settlers, along with tropical cultivated varieties such as the banana, passion fruit and others.
The region spans 7,000,000 km², of which 5,500,000 km² are covered by tropical forest. Most of the forest is contained inside Brazil (60%), followed by Peru (13%) and smaller portions in Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana. It was classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000.
Ver-o-Peso is a public market inaugurated in 1625. It was named one of the Seven Wonders of Brazil for being one of the oldest markets. As a tourist, cultural and economic attraction of the city, it has been called Latin America’s biggest outdoor fair.
Ariaú Amazon Towers, Manaus
As the Amazon Rainforest’s first and biggest hotel, it has 288 rooms arranged in cylindrical towers interconnected by long wooden bridges. In its heyday in the 1990s, it hosted former American President Jimmy Carter, the French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, billionaire Bill Gates and many other celebrities. Due to a multimillion-dollar debt with Petrobras Distribuidora involving judicial disputes among heirs, the hotel closed its doors and was abandoned in September 2015.
Caiman Ecological Refuge, Minas Gerais
The Caiman Ecological Refuge is an ecotourism hotel located in the wetlands of Minas Gerais. Its goal is to engage visitors with the wetland wilderness and culture of the region.
Tiradentes, Minas Gerais
The municipality of Tiradentes has a main church built in 1710, the second church made out of gold in Brazil, considered one of the finest Baroque constructions in the country. Inside is an organ dating from 1788, one of the fifteen most important in the world. It was built in the 18th century, when Brazil was a Portuguese colony.
Fernando de Noronha, Pernambuco
Fernando de Noronha is a Brazilian island chain in the state of Pernambuco. It is made up of 21 islands, islets and rocks of volcanic origin. After a campaign led by environmentalist José Truda Palazzo Júnior, most of the island chain was declared a national park on 14 October 1988. It is also one of the best places in the entire world to watch spinner dolphins. UNESCO declared Fernando de Noronha Natural World Heritage in 2001.
Natal Dunes, Rio Grande do Norte
The Natal Dunes State Park is a 1,172-hectare reserve of Atlantic Forest located in the heart of the city of Natal. It was the first environmental conservation unit created in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. It is a key part of the Atlantic Forest biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO and, as such, has been declared World Environmental Heritage.
Búzios, Rio de Janeiro
Búzios is an 8-kilometre-long peninsula with 23 beaches. It receives maritime currents from Ecuador on one side and maritime currents from the South Pole on the other, giving it both warm and cold-water beaches.
Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
Next to the ocean between two rivers, Paraty lies at an average altitude of just five metres. Because of its location close to sea level, the city has been designed according to tidal flows. As a result, many of its streets are periodically flooded by the tide.
Carnival, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is a popular festival of a religious, historical and social nature held over five consecutive days since February 1893. Is considered the world’s biggest carnival by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro
In existence for almost a century, the Belmond Copacabana Palace continues to be one of the most important hotel establishments in the city and in Brazil. It is known throughout the country for hosting international celebrities visiting Rio de Janeiro. The hotel has been chosen as the best in South America on numerous occasions. In 2009, it received the World Travel Award, one of the most important awards in world tourism.
Copacabana Beach on New Year’s Eve, Rio de Janeiro
New Year’s at Copacabana Beach is the biggest celebration of its kind in Brazil and in the world. It has sixteen minutes of fireworks, concerts by various artists and currently around two million visitors per year.
Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro
Corcovado is one of the city of Rio de Janeiro’s hills, famous in Brazil and worldwide for serving as the pedestal of the 38-metre high statue of Christ the Redeemer. This statue is one of the country’s main icons, and offers a superb panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro.
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro
Ipanema Beach is 2.6 kilometres long. It is one of the city’s most famous beaches, second only to Copacabana Beach. Ipanema was the inspiration for composer Vinícius de Moraes when he wrote the song “Girl from Ipanema”.
High City, Salvador da Baía
Salvador was Brazil’s first capital, built starting in 1545 as a fortress town for colonial administration and trade. It grew at two levels: the “Low City” and the “High City”.
Salvador Festival, Salvador da Baía
Considered one of Brazil’s biggest summertime events, the festival is held on different dates between late January and early February, before Carnival. It is known for its musical diversity, hosting artists from a wide range of musical generations and genres, both Brazilian and foreign.