Without a doubt, Camões is the most important figure of the Portuguese literature. However, little is known for sure about his life. It’s believed that he was born in Lisbon in 1524, into a lesser-nobility family. Son of Simão Vaz de Camões and Ana de Sá e Macedo, he lived his childhood at the time of the great maritime discoveries and at the beginning of Classicism in Portugal.
But if Camões is important for something, it’s because he is the author of the Portuguese epic poem: Os Lusíadas. He wrote it after returning from a trip to the East. Its was first published in 1572, although it was completed in 1556.
The central action is the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco da Gama (it’s said that Camões was his relative), using this guideline to describe other episodes of the Portuguese history, glorifying the Portuguese people.
It’s true that this is his great work, but Camões was highlighted in several areas: lyrical, epic and theatrical. His texts cover several topics, something that we can see in his best-known works Os Lusíadas and Rimas. The conquest, the Portuguese hero or the role of art are among these topics. And, of course, the universal themes such as love, disappointment and religion could not be missing.
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Camões and his work are an emblem and symbol not only of literature, but also of the Portuguese nation itself. Despite dating his death in 1580, surely due to the plague, he was a reference for some of the great writers of the Portuguese Romanticism, such as Almeida Garrett. He continues to be so for contemporary authors.
This literary relationship is reflected in the streets of Porto, since the Camões street connects the Lapa neighbourhood, an epic-romantic redoubt that houses the heart of a king, with the town hall and the statue of Almeida Garret. If you want to know more about this and other stories, don't hesitate to walk down that same street and continue along Avenida dos Aliados until you find our green umbrella. Our guides are waiting for you in our free tour Porto!