August 22, 2023     Lauren Chiasson

Taking Your Ensemble to Portugal


Welcome to Portugal! Here awaits a vibrant new destination for your musical ensemble to uncover. Seated on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal was Europe’s maritime hub and home to many famous explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Take in the breathtaking oceanfront landscapes while walking through city streets lined with brightly colored buildings. Get ready to explore the local culture in cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra.

Performance Venues

On your performance tour, you will have the opportunity to perform in spectacular venues. From medieval style cathedrals to modern theatres, the country has a wide array of venues to perform. Here are three magnificent venues to consider when planning your next performance with Encore Tours.

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Loreto: Centrally located in the heart of Lisbon is the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Loreto. Originally constructed in the 1300s, the church was rebuilt in 1676 following a 1651 fire and has since withstood events such as the infamous 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon. Its resistance to disaster has made this church a subject of marvel for its beauty throughout tragedy.

 Auditório Luísa Todi: One of the more modern venue options, the Auditório Luísa Todi in Setúbal was inaugurated in 1960. The original theatre, however, was constructed in 1897 and was once called “perhaps the most beautiful and elegant concert hall in Portugal” by the Dictionary of Portuguese Theater. In 2012, the theater underwent a complete renovation to modernize, while maintaining the architectural integrity of the building.

 Basílica Sé de Nossa Senhora da Assunção: Also known as the Evora Cathedral, it is the largest medieval cathedral in Portugal and was constructed somewhere between the late 12th and mid 13th century. The cathedral is constructed completely of granite—a choice reflective of the Romantic and Gothic styles of the time. The architectural composition makes this an especially perfect venue for choral performances.

Must-Visit Cities

Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, has a vibrancy that is unmatched. It is the largest city in the country, with a population of around 500,000. Explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries made Lisbon one of the world’s richest cities. There are still signs of opulent wealth leftover from the age of exploration. Its year-round gorgeous climate, rich history, and vivacious nightlife make it the perfect hub for exploration, yet its comparatively small size makes the city approachable if you are only there for a short stay. Maybe take a ride up to the top of the famous Arco da Rua Augusta or take a visit inside Jerónimos Monastery.

Continue up the coast to Coimbra, which was at one time Portugal’s capital city until the maritime takeover of the 13th century. Start your visit exploring the cobblestone streets of the main square and stroll up to Coimbra University, one of the oldest universities in Europe and a world-renowned center of intellect. You must not miss the Biblioteca Joanina with its stunning Baroque-style woodwork, which even has an academic prison in the basement that is open for visitation.

Porto, which is the county’s second-largest city and its namesake, offers the old-world charm that has become synonymous with Portugal. Iconic, red-roofed buildings line the streets of the Ribeira district, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Be sure to enjoy a glass of local Port wine, known for its sweet, fortified quality. Perhaps visit Henry the Navigator’s birthplace or stroll down the Duoro River.

Cultural Highlights

Fado: This genre of music is unique to Portugal and can be sung in many different styles. Each region has its own take on Fado, but in general, the music is typically sung in casual venues such as pubs, restaurants, or cafés. The more well-known Lisbon style of fado can be characterized by feelings of love and longing, or Saudade in Portuguese. Coimbra-style fado is unique in that it is sung by men and offers a more positive outlook on life’s hardships.

Food and Wine: A trip to Portugal would be incomplete without savoring some of their seafood specialties utilizing bacalhau, dried salted cod, or sardines. Looking for a sweet treat? Stop at a small bakery or café and savor a pastel de nata which is a small eggy custard tart best enjoyed immediately with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Wind down enjoying a Portuguese wine such as a young Vinho Verde or a Vinho do Porto from the Douro region.

Ceramic Tiles: Decorating the walls of buildings around the city streets are artfully designed ceramic tiles, or azulejos. The tiles have Arabic origins and were said to first be imported to Portugal from Spain. Although any combination of colors or patterns can be found on these tiles, the predominant combination is blue and white which became popular during the 15th to 18th centuries and have Dutch influence. Our “Portuguese Adventure” tour features a hands-on workshop where you can learn the history of and decorate your own ceramic tile!

Your Portuguese musical adventure awaits! Feeling extra adventurous? Trips to Portugal can easily be extended to include destinations in Spain (check out our Spain and Portugal itinerary). Interested in learning more about taking your ensemble on a Portuguese performance tour? Speak with one of our qualified tour consultants and get a free quote today!

Members of a band, a choir, and an orchestra. Text: Contact us to learn more. Get a quote.

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