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Symbols of Portugal

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Title: Symbols of Portugal  
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Subject: Symbols of Europe, Portugal, National symbols of Luxembourg, LGBT history in Portugal, Anthem of Europe
Collection: National Symbols of Portugal, Portuguese Culture, World Digital Library Related
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Symbols of Portugal

The symbols of Portugal are official and unofficial flags, icons or cultural expressions that are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of Portugal and of its culture.


  • Flags 1
  • Heraldry 2
  • Anthem 3
  • Cultural 4
  • Flora and fauna 5
  • Food and drink 6
  • People 7
  • References 8


The present national flag of Portugal was officially introduced in 1911, after the introduction of the republican regime in the 5 October 1910 Revolution. It is the latest in a series of national flags since the 12th century. Since at least the 15th century, the flags of Portugal had been known as "Bandeira das Quinas" (Flag of the Quinas), the quina being each one of the five escutcheons of the Portuguese Coat of Arms that are the central motif of the flag.

National flag Military colours Naval jack Naval commissioning pennant


The Portuguese shield is the result of centuries of modifications and alterations. Starting with Henry of Burgundy blue on a silver cross, successive elements were added or taken, culminating with the complex heraldic design that was officially adopted in 1481 and kept until today. The shield consist of the five quinas (blue escutcheons with five besants) over an argent field and a red burdure charged with gold castles (fixed in seven since the end of 16th century). The complete achievement of arms, adopted in 1911, include the Portuguese shield over the armillary sphere, surrounded by two branches of olive leaves that are tied by two stripes. The two stripes bear the colours of the Portuguese flag: red and green.
The armillary sphere was initially the personal badge of the future king Manuel I of Portugal, still when he was duke of Beja and great master of the Order of Christ. It became a national symbol when Manuel I become king of Portugal, being associated with the Portuguese Discoveries and specially used to represent the Portuguese Empire. The coat of arms of Portugal adopted in 1911 have the armillary sphere as one of its main elements.
The cross of the Order of Christ has been a national emblem since the reign of Manuel I, former great master of the Order. The cross of the Order of Christ was used in the sails of the ships of the Portuguese Discoveries and is still used today in the sails of the Portuguese Navy's school ship NRP Sagres and in the Portuguese Air Force's aircraft.


A Portuguesa (The Portuguese) is the national anthem of Portugal. It was composed by Alfredo Keil and written by Henrique Lopes de Mendonça during the resurgent nationalist movement ignited by the 1890 British Ultimatum to Portugal concerning its African colonies. Used as the marching song of the failed republican rebellion of January 1891, in Porto, it was adopted as the national anthem of the newborn Portuguese Republic in 1911, replacing O Hino da Carta (The Charter Anthem), the anthem of the deposed constitutional monarchy.


  • Belém Tower is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Belém in Lisbon. The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. By its characteristics, is one of the most distinctive monuments of the world and thus considered an icon of Portugal.
  • Os Lusíadas is an epic poem written by Camões in the 16th century. It is regarded as Portugal's national epic.[1]
  • Fado (destiny, fate) is a mainly melancholic music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. There are two main varieties: the Lisbon fado and the Coimbra fado. It is considered the national music genre of Portugal, with Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999) its "queen".
  • The Calçada portuguesa (Portuguese pavement) is a traditional style pavement used for many pedestrian areas in Portugal, while it can also be found throughout former Portuguese colonies such as Brazil and Macau.

Flora and fauna

  • The quercus suber, commonly called the cork oak, is a medium-sized, evergreen oak tree in the section Quercus sect. Cerris. It is the primary source of cork for wine bottle stoppers and other uses, such as cork flooring. The quercus suber holds great importance in the economy of Portugal, especially the southern regions, the country being the largest producer of cork. In December 2011, after a petition signed by thousands of persons, the quercus sober was declared national tree by the Portuguese National Assembly.[2]
  • The Galo de Barcelos (Rooster of Barcelos) is one of the most common emblems of Portugal. These pieces of craftsmanship, made in painted clay in the city of Barcelos celebrate an old legend that tells the story of a dead rooster's miraculous intervention in proving the innocence of a man who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death.[3]
  • The dragon was used as the crest of the Royal Arms of Portugal since the 15th century. Later, two dragons were also used as supports of the Arms of Portugal.

Food and drink

  • A pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, very popular in Portugal and the Lusosphere.
  • The bacalhau (cod fish) is one of Portugal's most recognisable and traditional foods. There are said to be over 1000 recipes of bacalhau in Portugal.[4]
  • Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.



  1. ^ "The Lusiads".  
  2. ^ Portugal names “sobreiro” its national tree | Portuguese American Journal
  3. ^ Lenda do Galo — Município de Barcelos
  4. ^ Pairing Wines with Portugal’s Faithful Friend: Bacalhau | Catavino
  5. ^ Dia de Portugal (Feriado)
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