50 years of liberty in Portugal

50 years of liberty in Portugal

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Today, 25th April, marks 50 years of celebrating freedom and democracy in Portugal. It commemorates the day the country’s dictatorship was ended.

It is one of the most important days in modern Portuguese history as it is famous for toppling the  Estado Novo authoritarian government and ending fascism in Portugal with barely any violence. The coup was led by the country’s military and took place in Lisbon in 1974. It also led to a new democracy and was nicknamed the ‘Carnation Revolution’.

The revolution was undertaken by young army officers who took less than 24 hours to bring down Europe’s longest dictatorship - nearly five decades from 1926 to 1974. The military forces quickly overwhelmed the government, sparking spontaneous demonstrations in the street where civilians ran out to mingle with the soldiers, despite being ordered to stay inside.

At the time, seasonal carnations were being sold everywhere in Lisbon’s famous central flower market and many of the jubilant crowds put them into the soldier’s gun barrels, inspiring the name ‘Carnation Revolution’ to describe this virtually bloodless uprising.  Many said the atmosphere was more like a party – and the Portuguese people are still immensely proud of how this day transformed society. The coup brought democracy and civil liberties to the Portuguese people and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies.

Freedom Day – ‘Dia da Liberdade’ has become a national holiday celebrated nationwide, especially in Lisbon.  It is also remembered in more than 1,150 streets, avenues and plazas called ‘25 de Abril’ and the former Salazar Bridge which crosses the river Tejo in Lisbon was renamed ‘Ponte 25 de Abril’.

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Published in: Guide to Portugal / Miscellaneous / Portuguese Life