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Taking a stroll down Lisbon's memory lane, through the historic square mile of Belém, the place from which Portugal's fearless adventurers set sail for unknown lands in the 15th and 16th centuries, is one of the highlights of any person's visit to the capital.
Boating in the Alentejo on Alqueva Lake, Europe's largest reservoir, is an immensely pleasurable experience, but it's the eeriest of feelings cruising leisurely over the top of a once-vibrant village now completely submerged by water.
One of the most inventive characters of the 18th century must surely have been Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão, the Brazilian-born genius who created the earliest known flying machine he christened the Passarola, a fire-powered aircraft which he showcased to Portugal's king and queen in Lisbon's Terreiro do Paço square on the 8th of August 1709.
Surrounded by vineyards, orchards and pine-forests, the charming city of Viseu has been a major crossroads since the time of the Romans who chose its site for a military camp, one of the largest in the Iberian Peninsula. Traditionally, it is also the birthplace of Viriatus the Lusitanian who died in 146 BC after defying the Roman legions for five years before the Roman Decimus Junius Brutus established the camp there in 138 BC.
When visitors arrive in Lisbon's historical centre of Belém, the first building they see is the imposing Jerónimos Monastery, impressive for its sheer size and without doubt one of the most spectacular monuments in the whole of Europe.
With its colourful vistas, wide-open roads and dazzling whitewashed villages, the great expanse of the Alentejo is perhaps the most vivid of Portugal’s landscapes. Occupying nearly a third of the mainland, the region is most dazzling in springtime when wild flowers saturate the lush meadows and pastures.