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At the end of August, we took our Facebook fans on a Tour of Portugal, highlighting many of the historical sites and cities of the country. We had such a great response to these postings that we wanted to share them here on our site. We hope to enrich your knowledge of this historical country, to illustrate to you how their cultural and environmental efforts have both protected the country’s heritage and culturally significant sites as well as protecting the cork oak forests from deforestation. 
We began at the border of Portugal and Spain, drifting down the Douro River. The Douro International Natural Park is a protected area, a home to  wildlife species including kingfishers, herons, eagles, ospreys, wild boar, and is also home to one of the last packs of wolves in this  region a few miles inland from the river. The White Stork and the Griffin Vulture are counted amongst the endangered species native  to this riverside area. The Douro International Natural Park is one of thirteen National parks in the country of Portugal. With a land  area of only 35,516 sq miles, the emphasis on protected land is evident. To put it more succinctly, Portugal is slightly smaller than the state of Indiana.

Next we explored the sights and sounds of one of Portugal’s more famous cities, Lisbon. This city has amazing historical city sites interspersed with the gorgeous natural coastline and more modern buildings bustling with a vibrant nightlife. Historical sites that have been listed as UNESCO World 
Heritage Sites include Belem Tower or the Tower of St Vincent, Jeronimo’s Monastery, and the Pena National Palace. All built between the 15th and 16th centuries, these amazing works of art were once fortresses of very different kinds defending a vastly populated country. Belem’s Tower was built by King John II to defend the mouth of the Tagus River from enemy attack. On the opposite front, Jeronimo’s Monastery was built Henry the Navigator to protect the hearts and souls of the countrymen. Vasco de Gamo also spent time here preparing for his voyage to India to discover a new trade route. Lastly, the Pena National Palace is a sight to see.
 This site was originally just a small monastery, which fell into ruins after repeated earthquakes in the area and general downfall. In 1838, a young Prince Ferdinand became fascinated with the ruins and began construction on the Palace as it is seen today. At the end of the 20th century, the exterior paint was restored to show its original regalia. Touring these historic sites is like stepping through the looking glass into a time of kings, and queens, rustic castles and stoic soldiers. Most of the castles in Portugal remain unrestored, showing the true weathering of time and battles.

Another remarkable site that was built in the last century is the Monument to the Discoveries. This stunning work was created in honor of the great Henry the Navigator who led Portugal’s discovery expeditions to the New World in the 15th century. Jose Angelo Cottinelli Telmo designed the monument in 1939 with sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida. It was built as a temporary structure for the Portuguese World Fair. However, after the temporary sculpture was demolished, it was decided in 1958 that a permanent one be built for the city of Lisbon. This monument is constructed from concrete, rose tinted stone, and limestone, which shows sailors being, led out to sea on a vessel with the sails open with Henry the Navigator at the helm. The monument stands an impressive 171 feet tall.

Moving our Tour of Portugal to the township of Evora, we find Almendres Cromelque, a megalithic stone formation that dates back to as early as 6 B.C. The site was not rediscovered until 1966 when Henrique Leonor Pina was conducting field work in the area. It is believed, like Stonehenge, to be
 a site of religious ceremonial purpose or perhaps may have served as a primitive astronomical observatory. There are documented  angles and lines that point towards the sunrise on the Winter Solstice. The stone formation is organized in a circular pattern with  approximately 95 granite monoliths. The site underwent many modifications and additions as it grew into the site we see today. The  entirety of the formation appears to form two separate areas which each point to different directions associated with the Equinox.  There is a primal energy at this site seeming to flow from the stones themselves.

Throughout the week, we also delved into the structures at the Temple of Diana, the Mermaid Fountain in Rossia Square and the Square itself to round out historical monuments and locations as well as important advancements in Portugal’s environmental protection.

Aside from the historical significance of Portugal’s countryside, they are also leaders in producing the world’s finest cork products. We work hand in hand with our Portuguese suppliers to ensure that the products we receive to offer to our clients are of the highest quality. Not only that, but we also require full adherence with all national and international protective cork harvesting laws to ensure that this resource remains renewable.

There is something for everyone in this city. Explore the country where our beautiful cork is birthed and harvested. You may fall in love with more than just our products!
(Photo credits: www.wikipedia.net, www.promptguides.com, www.lisbon.net, www.fineartamerica.com)

November 17, 2014

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