The Old Quarter of Porto, Northern Portugal

In this short visit to Porto, I take a stroll from the modern port-wine Gaia area of Porto and cross the Douro river, via the Luis I Bridge. This brings me to Ribeira, the old quarter of Porto, with buildings from the 15th century, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here facades covered with azulejos tiles (introduced by the Moors in the 8th century) look spectacular in late afternoon light. Looking a bit decrepit, but notable nevertheless. (May 2014)

The Cultural Landscape of Sintra, Portugal

Just 30km west of Lisbon, lies the amazing cultural landscape of Sintra, with structures dating back to the Moors of the 8th century. This area is located right inside the verdant forest of a large national park which stretches all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. It has a long history of Portuguese architecture and culture, first occupied by the Romans, then the Arab Moors, who built a precipituous castle atop a mountain overlooking the plains all the way to the Atlantic. It used to be the playground for the Portuguese royals of the 12th-20th century, and many aristocrats owned and built properties here. The outcome is, the place is littered with palaces, stately homes, beautiful buildings, gardens, monuments and houses of worship. As such it plays host to thousands of visitors who drop by every year to savour the essence of Portugal. Spectacular Sintra earned the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, so we decide not to miss it. (May 2014)

The Historical City of Evora, Portugal

Just 130km east of Lisbon, along the main expressway to Madrid, lies the historical city of Evora, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evora is famous for its well-preserved Roman, Gothic and Baroque buildings, thus compressing 2000 years of history in a compact place. It is late evening as we drive into town, on the way back from Elvas to Lisbon. Its quaint narrow cobblestone lanes and whitewashed buildings are relics of its Moorish past, and always a pleasure to saunter along, as we bump into one spectacular building after another. (May 2014)

The Old Garrison Town of Elvas, Portugal

Elvas is an ancient town located 220km east of Lisbon, just 10km away from the Spanish border. Its importance as a heavily fortified garrison town, guarding the vital Lisbon-Madrid road in the 17th-19th century, earned it the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. (May 2014)

Lisbon, Capital of Portugal

A couple of HD slideshows of our walkabouts in Lisbon, Portugal, during a May 2014 trip. An interesting city full of character, and immensely rich in history and culture. Portugal was a world power in the 15th-16th century, during the golden Age of Discovery, and Lisbon was the launch-pad. (May 2014)