Travelling is a luxury often not afforded by everyone. However, when a country bags the award for ‘Most Accessible’, it sends the message of inclusivity and acceptance. The first country to achieve this, Portugal bagged the award by United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Prioritising accessibility and availability in their government agenda, the country undertook various initiatives to make their country the most desirable location to people of all communities, especially those with special needs.
Their web portal and application “Tur4All” provides information to those who have specific mobility needs. However, Portugal offers various visual feasts beyond the allure of accessible modes of transport and commute. One cannot leave Portugal without a visit to these iconic tourist attractions:
Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga
A contrast to modest chapels, Bom Jesus do Monte is a complex religious construction. 577 steps arranged in a complicated zig zag lead the visitor to a church perched on a mountain. In the olden days, the structure would allow devotees to show their faith in extreme measures (people would climb the stairs on their knees). Each feature is marked by distinct symbols; a chaotic mosaic of details. However, the church is grand and can be viewed from the ground. Additionally, the church is wrapped in surrounding, neatly manicured lawns that are open to tourists.
Castelo de Guimarães
Sprawled over a small hill, this grand castle was originally built in order to fortify the monastery from attacks from Norsemen and Moors. Colossal walls arranged as a shield around the monument, the structure represent the military tactics of the past. The construction was remodelled in the 13th century, adding Gothic elements to the original plan. While for years this castle was left without maintenance, it was properly restored to its glory in the early 20th century. Greenery blankets the hill under the structure, broken by large trees.
Convento de Cristo, Tomar
Founded in 1160, Convento de Cristo is a magnificent structure, containing chapels, choirs and cloisters built in varying styles. As centuries rolled over, every succeeding king added to the structure. The Roman Catholic convent displays Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance architectural styles. The castle of Tomar is built a grand structure on a hill, the central building to the complex. A 16-side structure, the church is another large construction on the complex. The distinct structures offer a tourist with various visual options.
Roman Temple of Evora, Evora
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Roman Temple of Evora is a preserved temple known to be constructed around the first century, in honour of Roman Emperor Augustus. While the ruins were for years referred to as the Temple of Diana, there is no evidence to support the attribution. Throughout centuries, this space has been used for varied functions, including a bank vault and butcher’s workspace. The temple holds historical significance and is a testimony to the heritage of the country.
Dom Luis I Bridge, Porto
Towering over River Douro, Dom Luis I Bridge is an iconic tourist attraction in Porto. The two tiered construction holds together the houses of Vila Nova de Gaia with Ribeira district on the other side. The upper level of the bridge is at a startling height of 190 feet above the river and carries a metro line, along with pedestrian traffic. The lower level, on the other hand, handles most of the road traffic and also has slim passages for people to walk through. The bridge offers envious views of the city and the river.
Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon
A castle, ruins of a palace and other structures constructed for the elite- Castelo de Sao Jorge is a visual feast. Historical significance may draw you towards it, but you might just stay for the views. The fortification was built by the Moors to guard the Moorish governor residing within the boundaries. The early 20th century spelled wonders for the attraction as the castle and the palace were rediscovered and restored to the marvel they are today. The stories connected to the castle are fascinating, just as much as the grandeur that the appearance offers.
Vila Nova de Gaia
A paradise for wine aficionados, Vila Nova de Gaia offer detailed tours of cellars dedicated to the fermentation of port wine. The cellars draw an astonishing annual crowd of hundreds of thousands people. These tours walk you through the cellars, explaining the process along the way. As a fun bonus, you also get to taste some delicious wines while you learn the history of the attraction. Also visit the interactive museum for a well-rounded experience.