Digital Daydream: 12 Vintage Photos of Portugal
If you’re looking to brush up on your history or add a few facts to your weekly trivia memory bank, head to Portugal. The land has been settled since Roman times, and since the country itself dates back to the Early Middle Ages—and has the castles to prove it—it’s a stunning backdrop for all of your vacation activities.
On top of its famed Moorish architecture, Portugal is also home to a staggering number of fishing villages—many of which have morphed into fashionable seaside resort regions in the past few decades. You can still expect a hint of coastal charm, but not long ago Portugal’s sandy shores were more likely to be filled with beached fishing boats than swimsuit-clad visitors.
If you’re looking for a break in your day, or just a quick blast to the past, look no further: We’ve compiled a few of our favorite shots of old-school Portugal to help fuel your nostalgia and wanderlust alike. Many of the photos ahead also feature a royal visitor: Queen Elizabeth II, who visited the country in February of 1957. The Queen took the vacation with her husband, Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, in Portugal after a four-month separation due to work responsibilities. The royal pair visited the Portugal Opera, small fishing villages, and various palaces while in the region—an itinerary worth repeating for anyone paying a visit.
We’re in love with present-day Portugal, but we wish we could have experienced the cultural charm of the country in the 1940s and 1950s. Do the next best thing and settle into a mental vacation—you deserve it.
The Portugal Opera House
Queen Elizabeth II taking in a show at the Portugal Opera in 1957.
Aerial View of Estoril
A birds-eye view of Estoril in the 1950s—a city where exiled royalty lived on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Vineyards in Douro Valley
The scenic Douro Valley is known for vast hillside vineyards. The views were (and most certainly still are) the perfect pairing for a glass of wine.
The Maria Pia Bridge
This overpass is situated 200 feet over the picturesque Douro River. Built in 1877, the bridge is built of wrought iron and stretches 1,158 feet.
Travelers Awaiting a Train
A group of people lines the walkway of one of Portugal’s many stunning train stations circa 1970.
A dance in a small fishing town celebrating a visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.
Cavaleiros rounding up bulls prior to a fight in 1957.
A Royal Visit to a Fishing Village
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip taking some time to stop by a small fishing village in February of 1957.
Sentries Awaiting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
A line of sentries await the arrival of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their trip to Portugal in 1957.
You can’t go far down Portugal’s coast without finding a fishing village. This photo, taken in 1948, depicts fishing boats and sesimbra nets drying out from a day’s work.
Aerial View of a Cathedral
Dozens of cathedrals—much like this one, photographed in 1940—still dot the landscape in predominantly Catholic Portugal. The most popular one is the Lisbon Cathedral, which is also the oldest church in the capital.
Aerial View of Nazare
This small fishing village is now one of Portugal’s most popular seaside resort areas. Back in 1940, when this photo was taken, the scene in Nazare was a little sleepier than what you’d see today.