A Country of Mysteries for Mystery Stories: 5 Movies Shot in Portugal


Portugal's old history is full of legends, mystery and adventure stories. Stories like the one of D. Pedro the passionate king who was willing to leave the throne to marry his beloved Inês. Or the legend of the baker woman - Padeira de Aljubarrota - who defeated the Spanish with only a wooden shovel when they attempted to invade the country. Or the more recent episode of the Portuguese revolution that ended the dictatorship. The army brought it down using only carnation flowers as weapons.

So although Portugal might not be the most popular country to shoot mainstream movies, its landscapes and heritage reflect the adventurous and audacious spirits of its ancestors. Maybe because of that, it has been chosen for movies with plots and characters that inspire mystery, adventure and courage. Here are the top five:

007 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
The most famous secret agent int he world has chosen the beautiful landscape of Guincho coastline to propose to the only woman he truly loved - Tracy. They drive along the beautiful road, young, in love and totally unaware of what's coming next. The film ends on this particular road with one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the 007 collection.

The Russia House (1990)
Another love and espionage story written by the famous spy author John le Carré. Michelle Pfeiffer and Sean Connery fall in love in the middle of a plot of espionage and counter-espionage. And for dangerous and passionate romances what better scenario than the inspiring old streets of Lisbon?

The House of Spirits (1993)
With the lowest population density in the country, Alentejo is the most quiet region of Portugal. So, when a team of filmmakers and actors including names like Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Vanessa Redgrave, Glen Close and Antonio Banderas invade the peaceful plains it becomes a huge event. The story based on a book by Isabel Allende is about Chile, the revolution and an intuitive, special woman. Alentejo is where the team found the best inspiration for the development of the plot.

The Ninth Gate (1999)
A legend about a strange and rare ancient devilish book motivates a powerful but sceptical book collector (Johnny Depp) to travel to Sintra, Portugal in search for the truth. This little town is itself full of magical legends, mystery tales about fairies, witches and the powerful forces of the Universe making it the perfect scenario for Depp to start doubting his beliefs.

Night Train to Lisbon (2013)
A mystery movie about a swiss professor (Jeremy Irons) that travels all the way to Portugal in search of a young woman who once he saved from a suicide attempt. The scenario reflects far more than the beauty of Lisbon. Through the different scenes, we'll learn about the harbour where Vasco da Gama sailed away towards the new world and we'll go around the old narrow streets following the footsteps of the carnation revolution.


Silvia is a writer and a traveller born and and raised in Lisbon. Although her journeys have been taking her a bit everywhere in the world, Lisbon is the city where she always return to unveil and write about its never ending wonders.

More from this author:
June: the Month When Lisbon Doesn't Sleep
Hiking the Portuguese Wild Coast: Rota Vicentina
Portuguese Shale Villages: In Communion With Nature