The most Interesting facts about Porto and Lisbon

Posted by: Diogo Mattos

Post Date 05-Aug-2019 15:31:58

Whenever you hear or read about Portugal, I am quite sure that you already know about its ancient history, mixing the secular with the modern, in every city you go around this country. Similarly, you are probably aware that Portugal is well-known for its Port wine and amazing gastronomy, with very special dishes like cod. 


But what you might not recognise is that the name Portugal comes from the Roman-celtic name Portus Cale. Later on, in the 7th and 8th centuries, the name evolved to Portugale and in the 9th century became an anchor term to refer to the region between Douro and Minho. It was only in the two following centuries that it turned into what we all know today: Portugal.

In that sense, what you will read in the next paragraphs is our best selection of 18 interesting facts you would never imagine about the two biggest cities in Portugal: Porto and Lisbon. Along with that, an opportunity for you to explore our finest selection of cultural tours in those cities. Sit tight and enjoy!


The city was named after the suffix word Cale or Cailleach, meaning a settlement set north of the Douro River. To the south bank of the river, you see Vila Nova de Gaia, the twin city of Porto. With 45 square kilometers and a population of around 237 thousand, Porto is the second-greatest city in the country. Its popularity around the world came from the Port wine of the cultural traditions told below. 

  1. The city holds the nickname of Invicta because during the civil war of the 19th century, Porto was never conquered and even survived a year-long siege;
  2. It was elected a UNESCO World Heritage in 1996 because of its long history and ancient architectural buildings. 
  3. The streets of Porto held once the Formula 1 Grand Prix between 1958 and 1960;
  4. People born in Porto are called “tripeiros” meaning “animal gutters” recalling the name for a special traditional dish, part of the city's heritage;
  5. One of the most famous dishes of the city is called “Francesinha” literally“Frenchie”, composed of various kinds of meat, sausage, cheese, and a very typical tomato sauce;
  6. Great English Speakers are found here, especially among young people who are very helpful for tourists who come around the city. Even bus or taxi drivers are good at it;
  7. The wine tasters of Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto have to follow very strict and specific rules to certify Port wine;
  8. People from Porto usually don´t speak the word “v” as it is, instead, they use “b”. So a word like “wine” could be pronounced, “bine”. It sounds weird, but it probably has to do with Spanish language heritage,
  9. Theophile Seyrig, the author of the project of the  Luís I bridge, was an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, the constructor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

If you like these interesting facts about Porto, you can get inside history and explore even more in our cultural and wine experience.

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Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and consequently its capital. Has a population of 505,526 and an administrative area of 100.05 square kilometers. The name of the city came from a derivation of the Latin Ulyssippo after Ulysses and Roman Olissipona which also named the main river of Lisbon: Tagus. One of the most known characteristics of the city is its traditional music: Fado. But this is just one of the the 9 interesting facts about Lisbon that you can read below.

  1. Lisbon locals are called “Lisboeta” or “Alfacinha”: the first is probably the most heard nicknames but I bet that the last one you would never know, right? It's told that long ago Lisbon's inhabitants were confined inside the castle walls, during a war, not having much to eat but lettuce that was widely cultivated. Although it is a funny fact there is no certainty about that as it might also be seen as a critic of the nobles' life of sedentarism;
  2. One of the top destinations for travelers in Lisbon, the Belém Tower, was once a prison. It was during the Liberal Wars of the 19th century that it was used as a political prison. 
  3. In this same scenario, you can find the most famous dessert of Portugal: the Pastéis de Belém. It is said that only 3 people in the world know the original recipe. 
  4. Over the river Tagus runs The Vasco da Gama Bridge, the longest one in Europe at 17,2 Km long;
  5. The largest human national flag was raised in the city in 2006 gathering 18,788 people;
  6. Has the largest casino in Europe, called Casino of Estoril;
  7. The Guinness beer was first imported by Lisbon according to records of 1811 carrying a 203 years history;
  8. The city garbage collectors are also called `Almeidas´. A popular story explains this fact by saying that the crew came from a fortified village called Almeida;
  9. The hill of Graça is in fact the eighth hill, destroying the old say of seven listed in the book O Livro das Grandezas de Lisboa. Its is said that the author must have forgotten this.

Did you fall in love with these interesting facts about Lisbon? Discover more in our full-day wine and history experience of the city!


Now that you know some fun facts it is time for you to join us to taste some of the traditional flavors too. We are already booking for 2020! Stay ahead to get the best places and experiences at the best prices. 

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Topics:   Douro Valley History Tours Culture Tours Tejo river

Diogo Mattos

Written by: Diogo Mattos

Graduated in Media and Communications at University of East London and a finalist Master´s degree in Marketing Management at IPAM Porto. Diogo have been working in Digital Marketing for the past years, focusing on Content Marketing. He is passionate about travelling and tell. It shows on his writing here at Wine Tourism in Portugal.

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