The Best of the Portuguese Celebrities

Only a few of Portuguese celebrities are internationally known, but in this article, you will be introduced to the best of the Portuguese celebrities and you will get to know them better! The ones I am about to talk about are extremely popular in Portugal, because they have one way or another greatly contributed to Portuguese culture.

Some of the celebrities I’ve picked have already died, but it doesn’t really matter because they are definitely worth you knowning them! From sports, music, literature, arts, to fashion, they broke the standards of these fields and stood out, which is why you need to know some of them if you want to better understand Portuguese culture and history.

José Mourinho

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Some of you might already know José Mourinho. He is one of the most famous soccer coaches in the world. In the United Kingdom, he is known as “The Special One“. During an interview as the coach for Chelsea team, he called himself as The Special One, and since then, the media refers to him this way.

José Mourinho is the most successful coach of all time. He won many awards. For instance, in 2010, he was elected to be the best soccer coach of the year by the FIFA, but also by other entities like the UEFA, Globe Soccer, IFFHS for other years. During his career, Mourinho has trained many teams, such as Benfica, União de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale, Real Madrid, and Manchester United. His tactical mastery and controversial personality earned him this worldwide recognition.

Luís Figo

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Next on my list of the best of the Portuguese celebrities is Luís Figo, which was a former soccer player! He won the annual football award Ballon d’Or in 2000 and was the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year.

Figo has played in teams, such as Sporting, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Internazionale. He also got to represent the Portuguese national team 127 times. He retired from playing soccer in 2009. During his career as a soccer player, he earned many titles both individual and collective.

Now that he’s retired, he remains linked to soccer. He is the president of the Fundação Luís Figo that has many soccer academies in Portugal and around the world to help needy children.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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Now let’s talk a little about Cristiano Ronaldo, which I know you obviously know! He probably is THE most famous Portuguese celebrity. I’m pretty sure many people know where Portugal is in the map thanks to him! I’m joking! Ronaldo is so famous and his skills are so impressive, that even a whole article was written about him on our blog. Read it here!

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best soccer player on earth. Born in 1985 in the Madeira Island into a modest family, at only eleven years old he joined the Sporting soccer club. He was so talented that he soon launched his career with the Manchester United where he quickly progressed under the commands of Sir Alex Ferguson, the former coach.

In 2008, he was received the Ballon d’Or award and won with his team the Manchester United both the England Championship and the Champions League. In 2009, he signed a contract with the Real Madrid, for which he was the most expensive soccer player of history. Cristiano Ronaldo costed 94 millions of euros!

His elegance and good looks generated huge amounts of money through image contracts. He later created his own brand, called “CR7“. In 2015, he received the Ballon d’Or for the third time, and then once again, in 2016. Cristiano keeps collecting awards and exploits. If you watch him on a soccer field, you can definitely see his flawless technique and amazing skills.

To finish, I want to share another fun fact about him: he does not have one single tattoo on his body so he can be able to donate blood. Isn’t he cool? I have to admit that I used to have a huge crush on him when I was younger!

Amália Rodrigues

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Amália Rodrigues was a Fado singer and an actress. She is considered to be the representative of the traditional Fado and acclaimed for being the voice of Portugal and one of the most brilliant singers in the world of the twentieth century! Amália is buried in the Panteão Nacional in Lisbon, among many other distinguished Portuguese people.

She became internationally known as the “Queen of Fado“, therefore, due to the symbolism of the traditional Fado on Portuguese culture, she is thought to be the ambassador of this music genre around the world. She appeared live on many TV shows, in which she not only sang Fado songs but also popular music, contemporary songs and a few foreign songs as well, in French, English and Spanish.

Amália Rodrigues significantly contributed to the history of Fado. She was the one who introduced great consecrated Portuguese authors, by singing their poems! If you want to know more about this unique personality, visit the Casa-Museu of Amália Rodrigues in Lisbon or the Fado Museum!

Mariza

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Mariza is another Fado singer you should know about! She’s like the “Beyonce” of Fado, the diva of Fado! She’s the best Fado singer of modern times.

She was born in Mozambique in 1973, but moved to Portugal when she was three years old. Mariza lived in the Mouraria neighborhood where she used to listen to many Fado singers. When she was five years old, she had the habit of learning by heart many lyrics and occasionally used to join Fado sessions in Lisbon most typical neighborhoods.

In 2001, she recorded her first album that propelled her to fame. Since then, she produced many other albums, performed around the world and collaborated with many other artists, even from other music genres. Like she says, Fado is not a music, it is a feeling. If you listen to her songs, you can feel that each note is strongly charged with emotion! Definitely a Portuguese celebrity you need to know about!

Rui Veloso

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Rui Veloso was born in Lisbon but he was raised in the city of Porto. He started to play harmonica when he was only six years old. Inspired by artists like B.B. King and Eric Clapton, he recorded ten albums throughout his life.

Rui Veloso is one of these artists I think are underestimated, because he definitely should be much more famous around the world than he actually is! Take the time to listen to his songs, even though you won’t understand everything he says. I love his voice and the blues felt in his songs.

José Afonso

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José Afonso, also known as Zeca Afonso, was a Portuguese singer. He is one of the most influential persons in Portugal. Zeca Afonso was one of the pioneers of intervention music and was an outstanding songwriter. He has been able to reconcile popular Portuguese music and traditional topics with a word of protest.

In March of 1974, he took part in the “Encontro da Canção” event in the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon, where censorship did not allow him to sing more than two songs: “Milho Verde” and “Grândola Vila Morena“. Less than a month later, on April, 25th, the song Grândola Vila Morena played a major role for the Armed Forces Movement and marked the beginning of the historical event that we know as the Carnation Revolution.

José Saramago

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Throughout his life, José Saramago never hesitated to struggle against injustices. His passion for literature and the French language grew stronger as he grew older. He wrote chronicles, articles and poems for many newspapers and wrote his first novel Terra do Pecado in 1947, but because of his lack of confidence, it will last twenty years before he made a name for himself in the literary world.

The release of another novel, the Memorial do Convento in 1982 earned him world recognition and his next one O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis consolidated his international renown. His style is very peculiar, he writes fantasty plots that are re-enactements of historical events in which he highlights the human factor. The phrases are very long and filled with commas that give the texts a dense aspect but the reading is actually very smooth.

Saramago received the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1998 thanks to his works. He is the first and only Portuguese to ever receive this prize!

Fernando Pessoa

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Born in Lisbon in 1888, Fernando Pessoa is one of the most famous Portuguese writers.

He used to earn a living by doing occasional translations and writing letters in English and French for Portuguese enterprises that had business abroad. He was a solitary man but was an active leader for modernist movements, such as the Interseccionismo and the Sensacionismo. Pessoa was respected as an intellectual and a poet. He worked in many journals, which he also helped funding and direct. Nonetheless his literary genius was only recognized after his death.

Pessoa had a chest where he used to keep all his works. Nobody had any idea of the literary universe in which Pessoa used to live in. Poems, tales, plays, literary critiques, translations, philosophy texts, all his reflections were kept for himself. To add to the confusion, he even used to write under different names, personalities he created giving them biographies, physical features, and political opinions among other things. Fernando Pessoa is a unique writer and so is his work. He’s definitely one of the best of Portuguese celebrities. His works are still being discovered and explored by academics and will be forever remembered. Read more about him in this article!

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

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Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen was born in November of 1919 in Porto. In 1939 and 1940, she studied Classical Philology in the Lisbon University. She later had five children to whom she used to write bedtime stories. Apart from children’s literature, she also wrote tales, articles, essays, plays for the theatre and translated the works of Shakespeare, Claudel, Dante as well.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen is also known for her interventional atitude towards the Salazar regime by exposing it. She was part of the Catholic movements that fought against the old regime, colonial war and the Catholic Church support for Salazar politics. After April, 25th, she was elected for the Constituent Assembly.

Her works were translated into many languages and was awarded several times. She received prizes like the Prémio Camões in 1999, the Prémio Max Jacob in 2001 and the Prémio Rainha Sofia of Ibero-American poetry which was the first time a Portuguese won this prestigious award. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen evokes the simplest things in her works, such as objects, human beings, seas, days, with such delicacy and intimacy, that won her such recognition at both national and international level. Ten years after her death, the State honours were granted to her and her remains were moved to the Panteão Nacional.

Paula Rego

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Next on my list of the best of the Portuguese celebrities is Paula Rego, a famous Portuguese painter! I have to say that Portuguese artists are not much recognized around the world. Only a few gets to be internationally known. If you’re not very familiar to Portuguese painters, you should at least know about Paula Rego, which is why I am introducing you to her!

Born in Lisbon in 1935, she revealed a great talent for arts very soon! Encouraged by her father, she went to study in Londres, at the Slade School of Fine Art, until 1956.

In 1975, she did researches on bedtime stories. The researches she made at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation inspired her for her paintings in which she depicts the intimate world of children. There’s something very special about her paintings that I will leave to you to admire and find for yourself. Paula Rego works are definitely worth discovering and explored. I recommend you to visit the House of Stories Paula Rego, which is a museum dedicated to her life and works, but also to go to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum to have a look at a few of her paintings.

Fátima Lopes

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Portuguese fashion is not as ahead of time as other countries and cities, like Paris, Tokyo, or New York. But a few Portuguese fashion designers are slowly making their appearance and leaving their mark in this industry. One of the fashion designers that you should know about is Fátima Lopes!

Since she was a child, she expressed her interest for fashion. As a teenager, she used to create her own clothes because she was unhappy about the fashion she found in Madeira, where she was born. In 1990, Fátima Lopes moved to Lisbon with the intention of starting her career in fashion. She first worked in a fashion store with a friend where they used to sell international brands clothes. But she dreamt bigger, starting designing her own collections and in 1994, she began exhibiting her designs during fashion fairs in Paris. In 1996, she opened her first store in Paris selling her own creations.

Fátima Lopes is the first Portuguese fashion designer to ever be part of the Paris Fashion Week! Her dedication earned her international reputation. She now receives orders for several worldly known stars like Beyonce!

Sara Sampaio

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You probably already know Sara Sampaio. She is a Portuguese supermodel. She’s one of the most prestigious Victoria’s Secret angels and definitely one of the most famous Portuguese personalities! She’s gorgeous and continues to accumulate new contracts with several brands. Sara Sampaio has won many awards for “Best Female Model” during the Globos de Ouro and you can also see her in a few movies and music videos.

My list of the best of Portuguese celebrities is now over! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. You now know more about some Portuguese celebrities that were important for Portuguese culture! I have to be honest that very few celebrities are world-famous, this is why I thought it was a good idea to introduce you to some of them. Let me know if you know about some celebrity you’d like me to include in this article. I hope to see you soon in one of our tours in Lisbon, so we can chat and share our thoughts about Portugal culture and celebrities!

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