Portuguese Architectural History

This video covers various architectural styles throughout Portugal’s history, ranging between the fifth and eighteenth century. The architectural styles in the video came to Portugal through many different influences and helped to create the multifaceted built environment that we see today.

Social & Cultural History

The Portuguese created colonies beginning in the 1400s to trade spices, gold, and agricultural products, to create more markets for Portuguese goods, and to spread Catholicism. Today, most Portuguese are Roman Catholic, however there is no state or official religion.

Since the 1400s, the family has continued to bethe foundation of the social structure and forms the basis of stabilitythroughout Portugal. Loyalty to the family comes before other social relationships, including business. Portuguese natives enjoycelebratinga wide variety of festivals which are a significant part of Portuguese cultureand social history. Nearly every small town has a local celebration, which is generally based on a local saint’s day or agricultural harvest. One of the most well-known festivals is Carnival in February, celebrated in many towns and cities with parades, music, and dancing.

Portuguese cuisine is well known for its use of fish and seafood, which is no surprise, given its reliance on the fishing industry. In general, the cuisine has Mediterranean influences and a heavy reliance on spices, herbs, and garlic. The national music of Portugal is called Fado, which has its roots in the 1700’s. It is an emotional and somewhat sad style of music that tells stories of life.


The Calçada Portuguesa, or the Portuguese Cobblestone, is one of the most distinguishable features in Portugal, and especially in Lisbon. These cobblestones are made from basalt and limestone and are hand cut and hand laid into mosaic-like patterns. Portugal’s cobblestones often depict socioeconomic scenes that represent cultural accomplishments and the historical foundations of Portugal. 

The first intentional pattern was placed on the grounds of Castelo Sao Jorge, the castle overlooking the city of Lisbon in 1842. It was in the shape of a zig-zag pattern, as seen in the image above. Unfortunately, they no longer exist today. They were intentionally removed in the 1940s when the castle underwent much needed restoration work. 

In 1849, the completion of the most well-known patterned cobblestones, a wave form known as “The Wide Sea” and located in Rossio Square in Lisbon, was introduced as a way to pay homage to Portuguese maritime discoveries. Between 1866 and 1947, most of the original cobblestone on Rossio Square was removed. The square was restored in 2003 and now resembles the original less the intricate border. 

Fado Music and Emotional Story Telling