It was not until the twelfth century that Portugal became a country in its own right, having been a Roman colony and then having suffered both Barbarian and Islamic invasions. Long referred to as being 'Britain's oldest ally', but often placed in the shade of Spain, Portugal deserves equal attention. The golden age of discoveries, the reign and foresight of Henry the Navigator and great seamen such as Vasco da Gama led to the founding of Portugal's empire and wealth. Troubled times followed: in 1755 Lisbon was virtually levelled by the 'Great Earthquake', and the country had hardly recovered its former prosperity when it was overrun by Napoleon's troops at the start of the Peninsular War, to be followed not long after by the Miguelite civil war. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw the Port Wine trade flourishing, and further expansion into Africa. During the last quarter of the twentieth century, ever since the bloodless revolution of 1974 overthrew the right-wing dictatorship of Salazar, the country has regained its stability, and now takes its rightful place in the European Community.
Illustrated with maps and line drawings, the book has a full Historical Gazetteer cross-referenced to the main text which concentrates on the historic sites in a country which has retained its individuality and thus its appeal to the individual traveller.
Ian Robertson was once described as 'the Elizabeth David of travel writers' and is the author of the Blue Guides to Portugal and Spain; he edited and extensively contributed to 'Portugal: A Companion History'. He was born in Tokyo in 1928 and educated at Stowe. He now lives in Arles in France.