History of Portugal in a nutshell

history portugal

History of Portugal in a nutshell

Did you know that Portugal was once a powerful nation and one of the leading powers of the world?

While you are on holiday in the Algarve, you will see many historical remnants of different eras.  Algarve Housing has put the main historical era’s that had a great influence on what Portuguese culture is today, in a row. Let’s talk history of Portugal:

history Portugal
Map of Spain and Portugal at 30BC

Roman Era

During Romanization, from140 BC till about 452 AD, Portugal was known as Lusitania. The Romans brought Latin, the foundation of the Portuguese language, and developed mining and agriculture (particularly wine).

The middle Ages in Portugal

When the Roman Empire fell, the Visigoths took over the Iberian Peninsula and laid the strong foundation of the Church. However, the Moors invaded the Peninsula in 711 and occupied Portugal until 1249. In 1279, Portugal became an independent kingdom from Spain and Afonso Henriques its first king. Until today, the borders remain the same.

history of Portugal
Portuguese Empire

Imperial Era

Portugal was turned into a powerful nation. It was the age of discovery, with famous explorers like Vasco da Gama, who discovered the route to India, Fernando Magallan, who sailed around the world, and Bartolomeu Dias, who sailed around Africa. Countries were colonized, such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique (and more). Portugal was one of the leading world powers, with Spain as its biggest rival.

Decline and restoration of Portugal

When in 1578, King Sebastian was killed in Africa and left no heir, Portugal entered a period of chaos with many wars in Europe and trouble in the Colonies that led to a steady decline of its empire. In 1580, King Philip II of Spain invaded Portugal.

After the Restauration War, from 1640 till 1668, it managed to defeat Spain, who recognised Portugal’s independence.

Napoleon and the First Republic of Portugal

The 19th century saw an invasion by Napoleon, which was eventually seen off with the help of the British Empire, with whom they had always kept a good relationship, Portuguese Independence was restored in 1812. There followed turbulent times.

On the 5th of October 1910, after a Republican revolution, the King resigned and the First Portuguese Republic was established. Until today, this Dia da Republica remains a national holiday in Portugal.

Salazar Portugal
Antonio Oliveira Salazar

Dictatorship and the Carnation Revolution

In 1926, a Military Coup brought an end to the First Republic, the beginning of a long dictatorship led by Salazar with nationalism and isolation as his guiding motors. He established the Second Portuguese Republic in 1933. Nearly half a century of oppression and censorship followed, pushing Portugal into national poverty and social divide. Alongside the suppression of the increasing pressure for independence from the Portuguese Colonies that cost many Portuguese lives and a lot of money, this led to a peaceful Carnation Revolution on the 25th of April 1974 by the military, without one single gunshot. An end was made to a dictatorship that left a deep impact on the population. This day is a national holiday still celebrated every year in Portugal

Portugal in the EU

Democracy and EU membership of Portugal

Democracy was installed, it marked the beginning of the Third Republic with its first elections in 1975. All remaining Portuguese colonies were granted independence. However, the first ten years of the 3rd Republic were years of economic trouble. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Union. The growth of many of Portugal’s main exporting companies and the European Union’s structural funds were leading forces in a new period of robust economic growth and socio-economic development which would last to the early 2000s when Portugal joined the Euro.

I hope you enjoyed this article about the history of Portugal, always nice to know a bit more of a country where you live or have your holidays.

Algarve Housing rent nice villas in the Algarve, contact me for any further information about the history of Portugal or a nice private paradise in the Algarve!


Warm regards,


Algarve Housing, for your holiday in Portugal villas


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