World Heritage Sites in Portugal

By | October 6, 2021


The Phoenician and Carthaginian trading post Alis Ubbo (“lovely bay”) is said to have been on the site or near today’s Lisbon, but it has not yet been proven archaeologically. Since 205 BC Under Roman rule, the city, a center of the Iberian Lusitans, was called Olisipo (also Olisippo, Olissipo), at the time of Caesar Felicitas Iulia; it was the capital of the province of Lusitania. In the 5th century the city was under the rule of Alans and Swebians, in 585 it was conquered by the Visigoths, who gave it the name Ulixippona and built the first city wall, after 713 by the Arabs, whose 400-year rule was a heyday. The first Portuguese king, Alfonso I, conquered the city, which was now called Lixboa (Lisboa), in 1147 with the help of a fleet of crusaders; Alfons III made it a residence in 1260. 1373–75 Ferdinand I had a new city wall built.

As the capital and most important port of Portugal, Lisbon became one of the richest and most magnificent cities in Europe towards the end of the 15th / beginning of the 16th century, at the time of the Portuguese expansion, whose trade relations extended to West Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Brazil. Under Spanish rule (1580–1640), Portugal’s declining commercial influence led to the city’s decline. The earthquake of November 1, 1755, together with tidal waves from the Tagus River and fires, destroyed a large part of the city and killed tens of thousands of residents (reconstruction under Prime Minister de Pombal). The French occupation in 1807 resulted in the residence being relocated to Rio de Janeiro by 1820. In 1910, the Republic of Portugal was proclaimed in Lisbon.

Since the 1980s, the city has experienced a drastic population decline (1981: 807 900 residents, 1991: 663 400 residents, 2001: 564 700 residents). The lack of suitable living space and the completely overburdened inner-city local transport caused numerous satellite cities to emerge, especially in the north (suburbanization).

World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)

  • City center of Angra do Heroísmo on the Azores island of Terceira (K; 1983)
  • Jeronimos Monastery and Torre (Tower) de Belém in the Lisbon suburb of Belém (K; 1983)
  • Batalha Monastery (K; 1983)
  • Christ Knights Monastery in Tomar (K; 1983)
  • Historic Center of Évora (K; 1988)
  • Convent of Alcobaça (K; 1989)
  • City of Sintra and Sintragebirge (K; 1995)
  • Historic Center of Porto (K; 1996)
  • Prehistoric rock carvings in the valley of Côa (K; 1998)
  • Laurel forest »Laurisilva« on the island of Madeira (N; 1999)
  • Alto Douro wine region (K; 2001)
  • Historic Center of Guimarães (K; 2001)
  • Viticulture culture of the island of Pico (K; 2004)
  • Garrison town of Elvas and its fortifications (K; 2012)
  • University of Coimbra (K; 2013)

University of Coimbra (World Heritage)

The University of Coimbra sits enthroned on a hill above the city. In over seven centuries, more and more buildings grew. These include the Santa Cruz Cathedral from the 12th century, the Joanina library with its baroque décor or the botanical garden from the 18th century.

University of Coimbra: facts

Official title: University of Coimbra
Cultural monument: University founded in Lisbon in 1290 and relocated to Coimbra in 1537 in the former royal castle of Alcáçova on a hill; in the 1940s extension to a town-like complex with an outside staircase; Special features: University chapel with Manueline portal from 1520, Renaissance gate from 1634, Via Latina from 1700-1701, Joanina library with baroque decor (1717-1728), clock tower from 1730
Continent: Europe
Country: Portugal
Location: Coimbra, central Portugal
Appointment: 2013
Meaning: Impressive example of an integrated university town with an urban typology in connection with centuries-old cultural traditions; outstanding role model for the development of educational institutions in the Portuguese-speaking world with great influence on education and literature

University of Coimbra: history

between 580 and 589 in the settlement that followed the late antique Roman city of Aeminium, the seat of the bishopric
715/716 Conquest by the Moors
1064 Recapture from the Moors
12./13. Century Residence of the Portuguese kings
1810 The French sacked the city
1834 Main place of the uprising of Dom Miguel

Garrison town of Elvas (World Heritage)

The masterful fortress from the 17th century surrounds the well-preserved old town of the border town of Elvas with its former cathedral.

Garrison town of Elvas: facts

Official title: Garrison town of Elvas and its fortifications
Cultural monument: Portuguese garrison town dating back to the 10th century with border fortifications built against the Spaniards between the 16th and 19th centuries; Fortification, built by the Dutch Jesuit Father Cosmander, with twelve forts and various military buildings including churches and monasteries such as the former cathedral (consecrated in 1537) and the church of the Santo Domingo monastery (founded around 1550, small octagonal central building, dome with azulejos cladding); Built for sieges, seven kilometers long, still functional, four-storey aqueduct Amoreira (built 1498-1622 on a Roman basis)
Continent: Europe
Country: Portugal
Location: Elvas in southeast Portugal
Appointment: 2012
Meaning: Outstanding masterpiece of fortification architecture; largest bulwark with a dry trench system worldwide; unique evidence of a fortified border town; Extraordinary symbol for the efforts for independence of the European nation states in the 17th century.

Viticulture culture of the island of Pico (World Heritage)

In the west of the second largest island in the Azores, wine has been cultivated in the traditional way on walled fields since the 15th century, which has a special aroma due to the volcanic soil. The Russian tsarist court was one of the lovers of the fine drop in the 19th century.

Pico Island Viticulture Culture: Facts

Official title: Viticulture culture of the island of Pico
Cultural monument: Azores island Pico, named after the volcanic cone there (2,351 m high), 42 km long, 15 km wide, 442 km² total area, inhabited since 1460; authentic viticulture that goes back to the 15th century on approx. 10 km²; fields enclosed with dry stone walls, the “currais”; until today cultivation of the Verdelho vine; Manor houses in the style of the early 19th century, characteristic wine cellars, churches and harbors
Continent: Europe
Country: Portugal
Location: In the northwest of the island of Pico
Appointment: 2004
Meaning: Traditional viticulture culture of unique beauty

Viticulture culture of the island of Pico (World Heritage)