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A Short Treatise on Porto, Jews and their History

Created on: 07 August 2017
Category: Porto

On the 27th of July 1656, Baruch Spinoza, one of histories most important philosophers and the father of Biblical Criticism, was ostracised from the Jewish community of Amsterdam. 

It was not the first time that one of his family was banished from their lands on religious grounds.

For he was a member of the Portuguese Jewish community who had settled in the Netherlands. They had chosen the Low Countries following D. Manuel's decree of 1496, which essentially forced the Jewish population into exile, and the later Inquisition that occurred from 1536 until as late as 1821. This was an incredibly oppressive time for Portugal's religious minorities. However, thankfully, modern Portugal is a tolerant society, politically secular and Porto itself is the location of Iberia's largest synagogue, Kadoorie Mekor Haim.

Come pass through the area which housed the old Jewish Quarter, complete with a plaque acknowledging and apologising for Portugal's dark past, on both our Historical and Cultural Tours. (Click Here) These run at 10:00, 11:30 and 16:30 everyday!

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Death of a Despot

Created on: 27 July 2017
Category: Blog

The 27th of July, marks the 47th anniversary of the death of António de Oliveira Salazar. Arguably the most influential man in Portugal's long history.

He ruled as dictator from 1933 to 1968. This was the length of his official duties, though he was still treated as the Head of State by his aides through his final years as he battled dementia, until 1970.

He was part of the generation of Fascist dictatorships which ruled Europe in the 20th century. Similar in many ways to his ideological equals who promoted a protectionist, ultra-nationalist state controlled politically by a core group from his party and enforced by his secret police, the PIDE. However, he set himself apart from his contemporaries with a more humble demeanour, never taking a title like Duce or Caudillo, as well as his friendship with Britain, going as far as to give limited help during the Second World War. Though inarguably controversial, his legacy still shapes the Portuguese psyche to this day.

Also, to those less interested in history, they may recognise his name from a certain book series - can you guess which one? To discover this, as well as the other vestiges of Salazar's influence on Porto, join our Cultural Tour - everyday at 16:30! (click here)

 Caoimhin ODochartaigh

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Portugal and Castille – a long fraternal fight

Created on: 16 March 2017
Category: Porto

Or how the black plague saved the day.

Often times we, guides, are asked:

"When did Portugal get its independence from Spain?"; "How did the Portuguese language evolve from the Spanish?".

Now, no resentment or offense is taken here… Don’t get us wrong, both Iberian nations have suffered and undertaken the same ordeals, one way or another. But it’s time to tell you the story about how Portugal managed to keep their independence throughout the years, since 1143.

First, a little context into the country whose nationals we call, fondly, "nuestros hermanos". Spain is a union of several separate kingdoms – Castille, Léon, Navarra, Aragón – centered on the former. Castille is the kingdom that, by war or marriage, succeeded in merging all these different nations to form what we know as modern Spain in the late 15th century. An interesting historical consequence is the name of language: Castillian is the language spoken throughout the Spain and its former colonies, and not "Spanish".

Given this state of affairs, what about Portugal? Why isn’t Portugal on that list? It wasn’t for any lack of trying of the Castillians, at least.

This story starts with the death of king Dom Fernando I in 1383. The man whose name is associated with the defensive walls surrounding the city of Porto (the so-called "Muralha Fernandina", the Fernandin Wall), started a succession crisis in Portugal when he left as orphan only a daughter, Infanta Beatriz, married to Juan I of Castille.

After a fast-paced political and social fallout, two candidates emerge: Juan I of Castille and João, Grand Master of the military order of Aviz, bastard half-brother of Fernando I. The years of 1383 to 1385 were spent in anarchy and constant battles between the Portuguese and the Castillians, whose supporters were not dividided by nationality (nationalism as an ideal wouldn’t become significant before the 18th century) but rather by social classes: if you were a noble, a union of the two crowns would best serve your interests. 

This struggle had its apex during the siege of Lisbon. Between May and September 1384 the city of Lisbon was surrounded by the Castillian troops led by the king himself, Juan I. With the fall of the city to the Castillians the rest of the country would certainly follow, and we would be discussing, by now, the history of how a unified Iberian kingdom came to be, instead of the survival of Portugal as an independent country.

Not even reinforcements sent from Porto were able to break this siege. Some historians believe that this was the event when the sailors took all of Porto’s meat provisions, to help the starving but enduring people of Lisbon, and left the ‘portuenses’ with nothing except for the parts of the animals that until then were not used… the ‘tripas’, as guts are called in Portuguese. So, making the best out of a bad situation, once again faced with sacrifice, the people of Porto added beans to those meats and called this original dish ‘Tripas à moda do Porto’, where the epithet ‘Tripeiros’ comes from.

After several skirmishes between the armies, the Castillian army was getting ready to make a full-scale invasion on the city of Lisbon. The summer of 1384 was particularly hot, and in September Juan I wanted to finally strike down on the capital. But something happened that can be called nothing short of a miracle: an epidemic of the black plague, amongst the Castillian soldiers and mainly the leading ranks, “decapitated” the army and drove them back to Castille.


The following year Juan I made a second attempt, but was stopped short at Aljubarrota, where a very well positioned force of 6,000 men drove off a Castillian army 31,000 men strong. 

Eventually João, the bastard, gets crowned Dom João I, master of Aviz and first of his dinasty, and unsurprisingly one of his first acts as ruling king is to sign, and formalize, an alliance between Portugal and England called the Windsor Treaty. And what do you do to strengthen an alliance? You get married of course! That’s how Dom João I espoused Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, in 1387 in the city of Porto, as seen in the tile work below. 

This is just the story behind one of the many "azulejo" panels in the São Bento train station in Porto. Come and discover the rest with City Lovers Tours.


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The AMAZING Portuguese Gastronomy

Created on: 02 February 2017
Category: Gastronomia

Even though Portuguese gastronomy is confined to a small geographic area, it is influenced by the Atlantic – we have 850 km of Atlantic coast line – and by the Mediterranean – with the famous trilogy bread, wine and olive oil.

Portugal is visited by many reasons and food might just be one of the best ones! We produce, transform, cook, serve and eat good food, and want to share all of it with you.

For the Portuguese, food is much more than a survival need, we enjoy it and traditionally spend a lot of time sitting in deliciously filled tables. With family, friends, friends of friends, we love sharing food and are very proud of our treats!

But let’s explore with a little more detail the things you’ll probably find at our tables:


Using a wide variety of vegetables, the Portuguese traditionally start meals with hearty soups, that usually include meat or beans, and could be, by themselves, a whole meal! The most famous one is called Caldo Verde (click here), a creamy potato based soup with very thin slices of cabbage and some pieces of chorizo.


This is definitely the most basic food of Portuguese cuisine. We eat a LOT of bread! There’s even an old saying that states “If there’s no bread on the table, it’s not a Portuguese table!” . From north to south, each region has their speciality bread and, trust us, they’re all delicious.

Olive oil

We use it to cook, to season, to dip bread and even to bake sweets. Just like the bread, olive oil is mandatory in a Portuguese table, and FYI, we produce some of the best olive oils in the world!

Smoked meats and sausages

These unhealthy treats will also show up in any traditional restaurant around here. Several varieties can be found all over the country and you can see them as the main protein of a dish, like Alheira (click here), as a garnish in the middle of your rice, like Blood Sausage (click here), or solo like Roasted Chorizo (click here).

 Fish and sea food

Portugal is the 3rd largest consumer of fish in the whole world! Only Iceland and Japan eat more fish than us! The Portuguese person eats an average of 57kg of fish per year, and Octopus (click here), Sardines (click here) and Codfish (click here) are our favourites.


Portuguese sweets and desserts traditionally started in convents and are mostly made with egg yolks, sugar, cream and almonds. The most famous pastry, Pastel de Nata (click here) is the one you MUST try during your stay, it’s delicious. As a dessert don´t miss Leite de creme (click here), a milk and egg based custard covered with burned sugar or cinnamon, also a must.

Details aside, we can conclude that the Portuguese know how to eat well and enjoy the gastronomic pleasures of life.

City Lovers Tours doesn’t want you to miss the Portuguese gastronomic environment and has a great FOOD TOUR for you to experience it.

You will be with a local guide taking you to great places and explaining all about our food. It includes five places with food and wine, and ends with dinner, dessert and even a taste of Port wine! Curious?  Read more about it here – http://bit.ly/2k0yVM7 – we’re sure you’ll love it!



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En 15 de octubre de 2009 el Gobierno Portugués convirtió las autopistas conocidas como "SCUT" (Sin Costes para el UTilizador) en autopistas de tramos pagos. Como el único dolor de cabeza que uno debería tener en Porto sería el de Vino de Porto y no de peajes, os explicamos su operación de la forma más sencilla posible, con una breve introducción y una serie de preguntas de diagnóstico.

En Portugal hay dos tipos de peajes:

En los peajes manuales (ver la foto), hay que parar en la entrada de la autopista, sacar el ticket y pagarlo al salir. Con la excepción de Via-T, es muy importante nunca pasar por la vía rápida, que tiene un 'V' blanco en un fondo verde: travesar peajes manuales por la "Via Verde" sin un dispositivo compatible es considerado fraude en la ley portuguesa.

Los peajes electrónicos (también conocidos como "SCUT", ver la foto) son arcos con cameras que parecen radares de velocidad. Quien ha conducido ya en las carreteras portuguesas se enteró que todo el mundo les pasa a 200 km/h, es decir que seguramente no son radares. Estos peajes sólo se pagan ANTES o DESPUÉS, no hay como parar para pagarlo en el momento.

Ahora con las próximas preguntas explanamos los escenarios posibles:

En Portugal la gran mayoría de los dispositivos de Telepeage son compatibles con los peajes manuales y electrónicos. Con Via-T se puede pasar por el carril Via Verde y en los peajes electrónicos sin problema. El pago se hace de forma normal como si fuera en España. O sea, ¡con Via-T no hay que preocuparse con nada más! Fuente: http://www.viat.es/donde-utilizarlo/en-autopistas-extranjeras/via-t-en-portugal

En algunas autopistas hay la opción de asociar tu tarjeta de crédito (Mastercard o Visa) a tu matrícula poco después de travesar la frontera. Esta solución se llama "Easy Toll". Si no tienes Via-T, esta es la solución ideal: puedes pasar por todos los peajes electrónicos sin preocuparte, pues al final de 30 días van a debitar en valor directamente de tu cuenta. Es muy importante notar, sin embargo, que en los peajes manuales *hay que parar para sacar el ticket*. Esto *no es válido* para el carril rápido de los peajes manuales.

  • ¿No tienes Via-T ni has seguido la flecha para extranjeros, ya estás en Portugal pero todavía no has pasado por peajes electrónicos?

Confirma en el mapa de autopistas abajo (las grises son manuales y las rojas son electrónicas) si vas pasar por algún en la continuación de tu viaje. Antes de pasar por un peaje electrónico compra un "Toll Card", una tarjeta de pre-pago de €5, €10, €20 o €40. Puedes utilizar la Calculadora (haga clic aquí) para saber que valor tienes que pagar en tu viaje. La tarjeta tiene instrucciones sobre cómo activarlo por SMS.

Puedes comprar el "Toll Card" en las oficinas de correos (la compañía se llama CTT) o busca en e mapa de autopistas abajo las gasolineras con el símbolo de "Toll Card".

  • ¿No tienes Via-T ni has seguido la flecha para extranjeros, ya estás en Portugal y ya has pasado por peajes electrónicos?

Si pasaste por peajes electrónicos sin Via-T, ni "Easy Toll" ni un "Toll Card", la única solución para pagarlo entonces es comprar un "Toll Card" pero *no lo podrás activarlo según las instrucciones*. Después de comprar el "Toll Card" tienes que llamar al teléfono +351 707 26 26 26 (pulsa '2' para que te hablen en castellano) y darles tu código del "Toll Card" y matrícula. Esto sirve para que te activen la tarjeta de pre-pago con una fecha anterior, para que incluya en el valor total de lo que has pasado previamente. 

Puedes comprar el "Toll Card" en las oficinas de correos (la compañía se llama CTT) o busca en el mapa de autopistas abajo las gasolineras con el símbolo de "Toll Card".


Esto es lo más sencillo que lo podemos poner, y con estas respuestas esperemos haber solucionado vuestro problema y contestado vuestras dudas. Consulta el mapa de autopistas, saca el prospecto informativo para leer más sobre el tema o consulta: 


Para terminar:

  • ¿Has pasado el carril de Via Verde sin Via-T?:

Eso es considerado fraude en Portugal, y la multa es pesada. Puedes pagarlo sin multa y sin riesgos en la tienda de Via Verde (dentro de la tienda de "Loja do Cidadão") en Arrábida Shopping (Coordenadas GPS: Lat 41°08'29.98 N ; Lon 8°38'09.55 W). Está abierta de Lunes a Viernes 9h - 19h y Sábados 9h - 13h. Tienes que darles tu matrícula y decirles en que tramo han entrado.

Buen viaje, y que disfruten de Porto sin preocupaciones!!

Pedro Fiel

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D.Sebastião and the Mist

Created on: 01 December 2016
Category: Cultura

Today marks the Restoration of the Portuguese Monarchy, an important day in the Portuguese calendar. The 60 years of Spanish domination, before D. João IV won back independence, was caused by the impetuous actions of Portugal's young king, D. Sebastião. 

In 1578 the king set sail for Morocco to claim more land for the growing Portuguese empire. A very religious man, he also had plans to discover the legendary Prester John, a fabled Christian king in Africa. Foolishly he brought him almost all of his nobility and relations.

He marched inland and was met in battle by the local leader at Alcácer Quibir. In what amounted to a crushing defeat, Sebastião was lost in the melee. The throne past to his great uncle, Henrique. Unfortunately for Portugal he was a cardinal, known as 'the Chaste', therefore he had no offspring of his own. This led to the accession of Felipe II of Spain to the Portuguese throne. 

For 60 years, Portugal was under Spanish domination. In these years grew a belief amongst the Portuguese that Sebastião would return and reclaim the throne for an independent Portugal. This belief was strongest during the Iberian Union, when 4 pretenders in total tried to claim the throne. 

Later, the idea of Sebastianism became synonymous with a return to glory for Portugal. Even to this day it is prevalent; when the crisis hit, the Portuguese still hoped to see their saviour D. Sebastião emerge from the mist!

Join us on our walking tours (click here) (click here) to get to know all our miths and legends.

Caoimhin ODochartaigh

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Independence Day

Created on: 30 November 2016
Category: Cultura

Did you know that Portugal had lost its independence and had been under Spanish rule for six decades? That’s right!... and we are about to explain you why it happened and how we gained our freedom back!

First of all, we need do travel back in time to the second half of the XVI century. Morocco was living a sucession strugle and Mohammed II Saadi had lost his throne and ran away to Portugal, where he asked for help and assistance in defeating his rival. D. Sebastião (1554-1578), our King by that time, supported the moorish straight away, and this situation led them to the so called Battle of Alcácer Quibir, in the north of Africa.

Unfortunately, the allies were defeated and the Portuguese king’s body was never found, giving rise to a legend – the Sebastianism- the belief that he could return at any moment.

D. Sebastião’s death brought to the kingdom of Portugal a fragile circumstance because he died without leaving an heir. At this point, several different claimants had emerged, but it was Philip II of Spain the one who was sucessful, after using the force of arms. What Portugal lived afterwards was it’s new and third dynasty, the House of Habsburg (1580 – 1640).

In 1581 the Spanish King was oficially recognized as ours and this was the start of the Iberian Union. However, they established a compromise that gave Portugal a certain autonomy, as the fact that in our territory we would have a portuguese “Viceroy” and Portuguese language would be mantained as the language to be used in oficial documents. Our habits, customs and privilegs would also be held.

Portugal lived under the domain of three Spanish kings and, despite the commitment,  the last one, Philip III of Portugal (IV of Spain), started to cause dissatisfaction among the Portuguese people because his actitude was different from he’s ancessors. For example, he increased taxes which afected directly the Portuguese merchants. Nobility had also lost it’s value and significance as their governance positions were supplanted by Spanish members. Therefore, aristocrats and upper bourgeoisie pooled up together and lead to an insurgency that brought the end of the House of Habsburg in Portugal, in the 1st of December of 1640. 

The war between Spain and England also helped to the general dissatisfaction because it had damaged our alliance with the British which was preserved since the Treaty of Windsor (1386). However, the rebellion only took place when financial and military assistance were required to the Portuguese in order to provide support to the Spanish wars – “The Reapers War”, a catalan revolt that fought for the independence. In the 2nd of December John, 8th arquiduc of Braganza, was acclaimed King of Portugal, giving birth to the House of Braganza (1640 – 1910). 

Yet, the following time period was not peaceful. It took almost 30 years to finally find peace in the Peninsula. This was only formalised in 1668 through the Treaty of Lisbon signed between Afonso VI of Portugal and Carlos II of Spain, who at last recognized the independence of Portugal, giving us back prisioners and conquests, except Ceuta. 

Join us on our walking tours (click here) and find all about Portuguese History with our amazing guides ;)

Teresa Barrote

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National Sea Day

Created on: 24 November 2016
Category: Porto

On 16th of November, Portugal celebrates the National Sea Day and Porto has a beautiful ocean line. If you're visiting Porto now, City Lovers Tours has the perfect paln for you to see it (click here for more info).

The sea has historically being vital for the Portuguese, situated as it is, on the Eastern coast of Europe buffeted by the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed, Porto and the sea have been linked since its inception. Porto is simply 'port' in Portuguese (not the most difficult to work out!) and grew from its proximity to the ocean. There have been people using it as a port as far back as the Celts, while theories exist possibly going further back to even to the Phoenicians. 

What really fuelled Portugal's love for the sea was the drive to explore, discover and, admittedly, conquer. Arguably the Portuguese were the nation which started the Age of Discoveries. The first stop on their adventure was the city of Ceuta taken in 1415. It was actually from Porto that the expedition set sail from. It was also led by a native of the city, D. Infante Henrique. More famously known in English as Henry the Navigator, Prince of Portugal. After Ceuta did not quench their thirst it was the Portuguese that pushed to new worlds, primarily to wrestle control of the spice trade from the ottomans. 

It was Bartolomeu Dias who was the first European to round the Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms), later renamed Cabo das Boas Esperanças (Cape of Good Hope) by D. João II to get more people to explore. Vasco da Gama opened up trade with India by sailing there. Then in 1500 with the arrival of Portuguese in Brazil really ruled the waves. For much of the 16th century Portugal was the leading world power. It was this trade across the sea which create so much wealth.

Even today much of Portugal's culture derives from this love of the sea:

Even today, one of Portugal's main industry is tourism. Much of the tourism, especially in the past when it was relatively restricted to the Southern coast of Algarve, is maritime based. The beautiful beaches and excellent surfing.

Due to the location of the city centre the sea is a little bit of a trek for most tourists. A quick way to do it is to join one of our Porto City Sightseeing (click here), experiencing the glory of the sea from an old school VW van fully clued in by one of our fantastic tour guides!

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