The Arts and Literature
Portugal has a long literary tradition. In the Middle Ages ballads called romanceiros were popular. The most admired Portuguese poet is the 16th century writer Luis de Camões, famous for the national epic, Os Lusiadas. He wrote about the history of all the Portuguese kings and the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India. Cames is considered important especially because of his influence in altering the Portuguese language. He introduced words that are accepted as common expressions today. Portugal's greatest poet since Camões is Fernando Pessoa. This 19th century poet also wrote in English. Pessoa's writing reflected his concern with the destiny of the Portuguese people.

Religious songs dominated Portuguese music until the later years of the 17th century. Jose Antonio Carlos de Seixas was then considered the most talented Portuguese composer. During this time operas, cantatas and chamber music became popular.

Today, there are a variety of different kinds of music in Portugal. The fado is a type of music that is similar to the blues in North America. Fado is a Portuguese word that means fate. The fado is sung with a deep feeling of saudade or loss. It is typically sung by a fadista, dressed in black and accompanied by two men playing guitars. Many famous fadistas are women. Some fados are similar to serenades. In Lisbon, however, the fado is more traditional and tends to be about the struggles of daily life.

Portugal has many types of European architecture. The late Gothic Manueline style of architecture is unique. This style is seen in the decoration and structure of porches and windows of monasteries. The Pombaline style of architecture can be found in Lisbon and in Oeiras.

 Ceramic tiles are used extensively for a variety of purposes in Portugal. In 1755 tiles were used in the interior and exterior of Portuguese architecture when Lisbon was being rebuilt after a massive earthquake. The colours of tiles vary, although blue and white are the most common.

Did you know? 

In Portugal, tiles are artistically decorated with tin glazed colours, clay, religious designs, vegetation, mosaics and marble. Many streets are paved with tiles.