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The culture of Portugal is the result of a complex flow of different civilizations during the past millennia.
From prehistoric cultures, to its Pre-Roman civilizations (such as the Lusitanians, the Gallaeci, the Celtici, and the Cynetes, amongst others), passing through its contacts with the Phoenician-Carthaginian world, the Roman period, the Germanic invasions and consequent settlement of the Suevi and Buri (see Suebic Kingdom of Galicia) and the Visigoth (see Visigothic Kingdom), and, finally, the Moorish Umayyad invasion of Hispania and the subsequent Reconquista, all have made an imprint on the country's culture and history.
The name of Portugal itself reveals much of the country's early history, stemming from the Roman name Portus Cale, a Latin name meaning "Port of Cale", later transformed into Portucale, and finally into Portugal, who emerged as a county of the Kingdom of León (see First County of Portugal and Second County of Portugal) and became an independent kingdom in 1139.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal was a major economic, political, and cultural power, its global empire stretching from Brazil to the Indies.
Portugal, as a country with a long history, is home to several ancient architectural structures, as well as typical art, furniture and literary collections mirroring and chronicling the events that shaped the country and its peoples. It has a large number of cultural landmarks ranging from museums to ancient church buildings to medieval castles, which testify its rich national cultural heritage.
So, what can you expect to see, ear and experience?
As a part of the traditions followed on New Year’s Eve, the most widely accepted and observed tradition if the eating of twelve grapes.
Portugal boasts several scores of medieval castles, as well as the ruins of several villas and forts from the period of Roman occupation.
Modern Portuguese architecture follow the most advanced trends seen in European mainstream architecture with no constraints, though preserving some of its singular characteristics.
The azulejo and the Portuguese pavement are two typical elements of Portuguese-style architecture.
Portugal is perhaps best known for its distinctive Manueline architecture with its rich, intricate designs attributed to Portugal's Age of Discoveries.
It was after the 15th century, with national borders established and with the discoveries, that Portuguese art expanded. Some kings, like John I already had royal painters. It is during this century that Gothic art was replaced by a more humanistic and Italian-like art.
The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is also notable, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers) and black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron.
Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic is widely used, as are herbs such as coriander and parsley.
Following chroniclers such as Fernão Lopes after the 14th century, fiction has its roots in chronicles and histories with theatre following Gil Vicente, whose works was critical of the society of his time.
Classical lyrical texts include Os Lusíadas, by Luís de Camões with other authors including Antero de Quental, Almeida Garrett and Camilo Pessanha.
Portuguese modernism is found in the works of Fernando Pessoa.
Following the Carnation Revolution in 1974, the Portuguese society, after several decades of repression, regained freedom of speech.
José Saramago received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.
Polyphonic music, employing multiple vocal parts in harmony, was developed in the 15th century. The Renaissance fostered a rich output of compositions for solo instruments and ensembles as well as for the voice.
Gil Vicente is often seen has the father of Portuguese theatre - he was the leading Portuguese playwright in the 16th century.
During the 20th century, theatre found a way to reach out to the people, specially the middle class, through what in Portugal is known as "Revista" - a form of humorous and cartoonish theatre designed to expose and criticize social (and political) issues, but in a way that entertains and amuses the audience.
But they are possibly related to Roman or local deities from the time before Christianity spread in the region. The three saints are Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. Common fare in these festivities are wine, água-pé (mostly grape juice), and traditional bread along with sardines.
During the festivities are many weddings, traditional street dances and fireworks.