Lisbon in a Nutshell
Being the westernmost capital city in Europe, Lisbon is Portugal’s largest city and the political and economical center of the country, with a population of about 600 thousands integrated in a metropolitan area of over 3 million people. Watch video about Lisbon
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, founded before other European capitals such as London, Paris or Rome. It was settled during at least the Neolithic by Pre-Celtic tribes, and you can find Celtic, Phoenician and mostly Roman remains throughout the city, witnessing its old origins. That’s why almost each time a new underground construction or infrastructure is initiated in Lisbon’s historical centre it has most likely to be interrupted so the archaeologists can identify and preserve the found remains.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century the city was invaded by successive Germanic tribes, and in the 8th century Lisbon was taken by Muslim forces that implemented an Islamic rule. In the 12th century, the city surrendered to the king of the recently established northern Christian reign of Portugal. The first Portuguese university was founded in Lisbon in 1290 and during the last centuries of the Middle Ages, the city expanded substantially.
The 16th century was Lisbon's golden era: the city was the European hub of commerce between Africa, India, the Far East and later, Brazil, and acquired great riches by exploiting the trade in spices, slaves, sugar, textiles and other goods. This period saw the rise of the exuberant Manueline style in architecture, which left its mark in many 16th century buildings including Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Sites).
In the early 18th century, the discovery of gold in Brazil gave a fresh impetus to the Portuguese Empire and allowed the King to sponsor the building of several Baroque churches and theatres in the city.
By 1755, Lisbon was one of the largest and splendorous cities in Europe, but on 1 November 1755, the city was destroyed by a devastating earthquake, followed by a tsunami, which killed 30,000 to 40,000 Lisbon residents of a population estimated at 250,000 and destroyed a significant part of the city's buildings.
After the earthquake, the city centre was rebuilt in accordance with principles of the modern urban design and earthquake-resistance in a grid plan with two squares in each extremity: Praça do Rossio and Praça do Comércio.
During the 19th century, the city extended north along the Avenida da Liberdade, growing for the first time way from the Tagus River.
The “Parque das Nações”, the most ambitious urban development in Lisbon in the 20th century, is a residential and leisure district with several examples of modern contemporary architecture from some of the best Portuguese and international architects. It is located in the margins the river Tagus and originates from the 1998 world exhibition that allowed the renovation of a then forgotten area in the city.
Some facts about Lisbon
Lisbon is located at the same latitude as Washington D. C. (is the closest European capital to the US) and despite not being technically Mediterranean (all Portuguese coast is Atlantic), enjoys a Mediterranean type climate with average temperatures of 15 °C (59 °F) during the day and 8 °C (46 °F) during the night in January, the coldest month, and 32 °C (89 °F) during the day and 18 °C (64 °F) during the night in August, the hottest month. It is common to have temperatures above 20 °C (68 °F) in autumn and spring.
Lisbon is one of the most amazing cities of Europe, often considered a hidden gem, although with a long tradition of welcoming travelers. It mixes old with modern and traditional with innovative in a historical and lively city with monuments, architecture, museums, culture, gastronomy and nightlife to offer. It has currently two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery.
Within a radius of 25 miles from Lisbon’s center you can find a variety of attraction hard to match in any other European Capital city, including beaches, both urban, as Cascais or Carcavelos (very nice surf spot in wintertime), and almost unspoiled as in the vast sands from Costa da Caparica (also a surf spot) to Meco, world class golf courses, casinos, wildlife (Arrabida’s National Park, which vegetation is one of the few remaining examples of pristine Mediterranean forest, and where you can find friendly wild Dolphins in the seaside; Tejo National Park is one of the world’s major migratory birds sanctuary and you can find there big flocks of pink Flamingos among other birds). If you are a surf fan you may want to go a little bit further north and catch some of the best waves in Europe.
On top of that, Lisbon is probably one of Europe’s best value-for-money cities and least expensive capitals. It won World travel Awards Europe's Leading City Break Destination in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
Article New York Times