Located in southwestern Europe, Portugal, is one of the oldest nation-states, both in Europe and in the entire world. Boasting a long, rich history and a fascinating mix of cultures, Portugal is also home to a good number of architectural gems. From perfectly preserved medieval castles, stunning Gothic churches and shines, and monumental palaces, there is plenty to see in this beautiful country, if you are a big fan of excellent architecture and design. Planning to visit Portugal soon? We’ve selected some of the most stunning and culturally important buildings in the country. Read on to learn more about the best famous buildings in Portugal.
1. Batalha Monastery
Constructed in 1385, the Batalha Monastery was built by the Portuguese to thank the Virgin Mary for their triumph against the Castillians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, noted for its majestic design and decor that combines late Gothic and Manueline styles. The Monastery has also served as a museum since the 1980s, showcasing the history of the structure, as well as Portugal’s monarchs throughout history.
Address: Largo Infante Dom Henrique, 2440-109 Batalha, Portugal
Opening hours: 9am - 5:30pm (daily)
Price: 6.51 USD
2. Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa
Also known as Paco Ducal, the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa was built in 1501 by the orders of the Duke of Bragança. Over time, the palace also housed various monarchs and their royal families. Today, the palace houses collections featuring the treasures owned by these royal families. You can explore the palace and learn more about their lavish lifestyles, as well as their roles in Portugal’s history. Parts of the palace were even preserved to look as though the monarchs had never left - with portraits still hanging on the walls and toiletries still found in the private rooms.
Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa
Address: Terreiro do Paço, Vila Viçosa, Portugal
Opening hours: Tue: 2pm - 5pm; Wed - Sun: 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm (closed on Mon)
3. Castle of Bragança
The Castle of Bragança is one of the most well-preserved historical structures in Portugal. Located in the historic center of Santa Maria, this medieval castle looks as though it could be straight out of a fairy tale - complete with 15 watchtowers, fortifications, and breathtaking views. The castle also boasts a long, rich history, having been built in the 13th century and having survived both the Roman and Moorish occupations. Today, the castle is recognized as a National Monument and is home to a museum that showcases the history of the Portuguese military, as well as a good number of cafes and shops.
Castle of Bragança
Address: R. Dom João V 62, 5300-025 Bragança, Portugal
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9am – 12pm, 2pm – 5pm (closed on Mon)
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4. Mafra National Palace
Also known as the Royal Building of Mafra, the Mafra National Palace is noted for its unique design, which is a blend of baroque and neoclassical styles. The palace-monastery is actually a vast complex, which includes the Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, which is a hunting and recreational park. Following the exile of the last king of Portugal, the palace was declared a National Monument and opened to the public as a museum. To this day, the palace opens its doors to thousands of visitors who want to see its beauty and grandeur.
Mafra National Palace
Address: Terreiro D. João V, Mafra, Portugal
Website: Mafra National Palace
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
5. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is a cluster of Catholic religious buildings and structures, including the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Chapel of the Lausperene, and a monument to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Chapel of the Apparitions, which it is best known for. In 1916, three young children in Fatima claimed to have seen an apparitions of an angel and the Virgin Mary, as they were tending to their sheep by the chapel. These apparitions are known in the Catholic Faith as the Miracle of Fatima. Today, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is one of the most important basilicas in the world, drawing in more than four million Roman Catholic pilgrims, annually.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
Address: 2495-401 Fátima, Portugal
Website: Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
6. Park and National Palace of Pena (from USD 51.45)
Hailed as one of the most beautiful palaces in all of Europe, the Park and National Palace of Pena, is one of Portugal’s seven wonders and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1854, the Park and National Palace of Pena boasts an eclectic mix of styles, including the neo-Gothic, Manueline, Islamic and Renaissance styles of architectural design. Its surrounding park is equally as lush, being home to various specials of flora from every continent. Planning to see the park and palace? Be sure to get yourself some skip-the-line tickets, so that you can enter without having to deal with long lines and waiting times.
Park and National Palace of Pena Entrance Ticket, Lisbon, Portugal
7. Church of Sao Roque
Also known as the Igreja de São Roque, the Church of Sao Roque is among the first Jesuit churches in the world. It is composed of eight chapels, most of which were built in the early 17th century, in the baroque style. Dedicated to the patron saint of victims of the plague, the church also served as a shrine to the relics of Saint Roch, which were sent to Lisbon at a time when the city was being ravaged by the disease. Today, the Church of Sao Roque remains an important shrine among the Catholic faithful in Portugal, as well as a notable heritage building in the nation’s capital.
Church of Sao Roque
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, 1200-470 Lisboa, Portugal
8. Bolsa Palace
The Palacio da Bolsa, or the Stock Exchange Palace, is another important historical and administrative building in the country. Located in the city of Porto, the palace was constructed in the 19th century in order to serve as a venue where traders can hold open discussions, as well as to serve as the association’s headquarters. Made in the neo-classical and neo-palladian styles, the palace was declared a national monument in 1982. Besides serving as the headquarters for the Associação Comercial do Porto, Bolsa Palace is also one of the most visited architectural sites in Portugal today, attracting more than 300 thousand visitors, every year.
Address: R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto, Portugal
Website: Bolsa Palace
Opening hours: 9am - 6:30pm (daily)
9. Alcobaça Monastery
Founded in 1153 by Afonso I - the first Portuguese king - in celebration of his victory over the Moors, the Alcobaça Monastery was one of the first Gothic buildings in the country. Along with the Augustinian Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, it is also considered to be one of the most important medieval monasteries in the country, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. Inside the monastery, one can find plenty of intriguing details, such as life-like sculptures depicting the lives of the saints, splendidly decorated tombs, and of course, stunning architectural features.
Address: 2460-018 Alcobaça, Portugal
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
10. Tower of Belem (from USD 6.73)
Officially called the Tower of St. Vincent, the Tower of Bellem is a fortification that has stood since the early 16th century. Made of ivory and limestone, the tower was important for explorers as a point of embarkation, as well as a gateway to Lisbon. It is also a prime example of the country’s distinct Manueline style, having been built at the peak of the the Portuguese Renaissance. Excited to explore the Tower of Belem? Be sure to get yourself a fast track ticket, so that you can have direct access to it, without having to wait in line.
Lisbon: Belém Tower Entry Ticket
Discover Portugal's architectural gems
Spanning various centuries and styles, Portugal’s architectural gems are a testament to the country’s long history, as well as its rich and colorful culture. There is no limit to the wonders that you can discover when you visit the country’s architectural treasures. We hope that this list guides you through the ones that you wouldn’t want to miss out, on your next trip to this beautiful country.
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