Lisboa’s location, spread over seven low hills, overlooking the river Tejo, once lured traders and settlers, and continues to be a stunning site.
Add to that the cultural diversity, a pleasantly temperate climate all year-round and a people that by longstanding tradition offer visitors a warm welcome. Medieval Alfama is the charming and oldest part of the city with its maze-like streets, crowned by the impressive Castelo de São Jorge. The Baixa’s commercial avenues lies just below. The elegant Chiado shopping area climbs away up another hill, next to Bairro Alto, home of much of the Lisbon nightlife.
The westernmost part of the city, Belém, was the birthplace of the Age of Discoveries and Parque das Nações (the 98 World Expo site) in the northeast side of the city is an area full of 21st century avant-garde architecture built on a most impressive river side site.
A VERY BRIEF HISTORY…
Lisboa dates back to pre-Roman times - legend has it that Ulysses founded the city, although it was more probably the Phoenicians. In its early years Lisbon was a constant battleground with Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians taking turn to rule the city.
In 714 the powerful Moors arrived and, by fortifying the city, held out against Christian attacks for over 400 years. By 1147 the Moors’ luck turned and the Christian Cruzaders recaptured Lisbon. The 16th century was Portugal’s short-lived golden era of sea exploration when riches were brought from across the oceans.
In the late 17th century the discovery of gold in Brazil saw Lisbon enjoy another luxurious period but this time it was cut short by the massive earthquake in 1755 which reduced the city to rubble. In 1910 the monarchy fell and the first Portuguese Republic was proclaimed. Portugal’s democratic phase lasted until 1926, when a military coup reduced Portugal to a period of totalitarian regime under the dictator António Salazar.
The costly colonial wars in 60`s and 70`s within African Portuguese territories, led to the “Carnation Revolution”, a nearly bloodless military coup on 25 April 1974. The new government instituted democratic reforms and granted independence to the African colonies in 1975. In 1986 Portugal became a full member of the European Union.