Portuguese musical traditions are diverse and dynamic; they reflect multifarious historical, cultural, and political processes with influences from non-European cultures from both North and sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil. Polyphonic music, employing multiple vocal parts in harmony, was developed in the 15th century.
Portuguese art was very restricted in the early years of its birth, during the “reconquista” to a few paintings in churches, convents and palaces. It was only after the 15th century, with national borders established and with the discoveries, that Portuguese art expanded. Some kings, like John I already had royal painters. It is during this century that Gothic art was replaced by a more humanistic and Italian-like art.
Portugal never developed a great Dramatic theatre tradition due primarily to the fact that the Portuguese were more passionate about lyric or humorous works than dramatic art. Gil Vicente is often seen has the father of Portuguese theatre - he was the leading Portuguese playwright in the 16th century.
During the summer, in the month of June, festivities dedicated to three saints known as Santos Populares take place all over Portugal. Why the populace associated the saints to these pagan festivities is not known. But they are possibly related to Roman or local deities from the time before Christianity spread in the region.
Roman domination in Hispania was ended with the invasions by Germanic peoples (especially Sueves and Visigoths) starting in the 5th century AD. Very few buildings survive from the period of Visigoth domination (c.580-770), most of them were modified in subsequent centuries.
Architecture developed significantly in the 2nd century BC with the arrival of the Romans, who called the Iberian Peninsula Hispania. Conquered settlements and villages were often modernized following Roman models, with the building of a forum, streets, theaters, temples, baths, aqueducts and other public buildings.
Pre-historic fortified villages dating from the Chalcolithic are found along the Tagus river like that of Vila Nova de São Pedro, near Cartaxo, and the Castro do Zambujal, near Torres Vedras. These sites were occupied in the period around the years 2500-1700 BC and were surrounded by stone walls and towers, a sign of the conflict of the time.
The earliest examples of architectural activity in Portugal date from the Neolithic; and consist of structures associated with Megalith culture. The Portuguese hinterland is dotted with a large number of dolmens (called antas or dólmens), tumuli (mamoas) and menhirs.
Since the second millennium BC, there has been important construction in the area where Portugal is located today. Portugal boasts several scores of medieval castles, as well as the ruins of several villas and forts from the period of Roman occupation.