World Facts Index > Portugal > Lisbon

Lisbon, the city on the Seven Hills, of the fado, of the saint's parties, and of the narrow streets is today, and more than ever, a cosmopolitan european city, filled with good many reason for a good stay. Along with the tradition comes modernity. From Alfama to the Parque das Nações, from downtown (Baixa) to Belém, the growth of the city, along with the improvement of the historical districts, makes Lisbon one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe.

The oldest part of the city is located in downtown area called the 'Baixa' and its surrounding area, it extends down to the districts of Mouraria, Costa do Castelo and Alfama, which in itself is worth a visit. The Castelo de S. Jorge, is one of the obligatory places to visit for all those that want to have a good knowledge of the city, which was won back from the moors in 1143. This area of the city, with its typical districts and narrow streets has a unique and friendly atmosphere, all those visiting will certainly enjoy the hospitality associated with Portuguese people, and the people of Lisbon. The Bairro Alto is one of areas of the city with great nightlife. Here, you will find a large number of restaurants, bars and night clubs. The downtown Baixa is traditionally a commercial area, where a number of shops can be found, including tourist gifts shops. The extension of the Baixa, in Avenida da Liberdade, mirrors that tradition, with all the best international brands being represented in this charismatic Avenue.

Near by the Tagus river, there are monuments and leisure areas. The Torre de Belém is where the departure of many caravels took place, in search of new worlds in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or the Padrão dos Descobrimentos are just three examples of beautiful places, worth a visit. Close by, you will find the Docas, a place with a little bit of everything. A simple walk, a meal, sampling the best Portuguese cuisine available. The bars and discos are also countless, all housed within a fantastic atmosphere.

The centre of the city, apart from being the privileged area in terms of business, also has a wide variety of places, including shopping centres and tourist attractions. Places like the Atrium Saldanha or the Monumental are perfect if you want to buy a gift from the best brands available in the world.

Lisbon also has an Underground network that can take you anywhere in a matter of minutes. Therefore, from Saldanha or Campo Pequeno, you can to any other part of the city, like to Fundção Gulbenkian, one of the most prestigious cultural centres in Lisbon. There are exhibits all year round and the gardens and surrounding areas are unforgettable.

The residentials districts of the city sometimes hide charming surprises. Restelo for instance, has the green park of Monsanto close by, a place filled with trees and greens, so that you can relax, getting away from the stress of the city. In Benfica you will find the Colombo Shopping Mall, the biggest in the Iberian Peninsula, filled with entertainment centres and shops.

The towns near to Lisboa, are equally worth a visit. In around twenty minutes you might go to the beach or to the countryside. North of the city is beautiful Cascais, a town filled with historical and tourist attractions. It also has a large number of beaches. You might also choose Sintra, with its many interesting locations. To the south, Costa da Caparica, a fishing village, with its wonderful beaches

Lisbon is a modern city, very much geared towards the future, but it still has a nice balance between nature and man. One thing we can promise you is that the best of southern Europe waits for you here, in Lisbon.

History of Lisbon

If you take a long look at Lisbon, you realize that it is different to all others. Finding out why wouldn't be a waste of time. It would involve a voyage between the seven hills on which the city is built on, and centuries of history in districts such as Alfama, Castelo and Mouraria. Discovering Lisbon involves taking some time to notice the small details, the paving stones, the tiles on the floor, the iron on the verandas and the fountains found in the typical gardens. The history of Lisbon can be found in the views from the majestic castle, and on the brows of each and every hill. Lisbon is not only about the past, it is also about the here and now. Through its modern buisness districts, and the new avenues which are springing up all the time, Lisbon proves that it is a city in constant development.


It is documented that there has been a human presence in Lisbon for at least 300, 000 years, after remains were found recently in this area. It is thought that the early settlers hunted and fished for food, in a completely differnet ecosystem to the one in place nowadays. Excavations in the Serra de Monsanto found that the settlers already produced pottery, which they traded, and that they already began to farm the land.

Legend: When Ulises Founded Lisbon

Ulisses and his men saw a flash of lightning fall on the spot where Lisbon is now found, and start a monumentous fire. On closer inspection they found a fiery sphere, with the following inscription, 'On this foundation, lay the first stone of my city'. Ulisses then did as the inscription commanded, and named the city Ulissipo or Olissopo. It is from there, according to legend, that Lisbon got its name.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

This monastery was the biggest construction made in the era of the discoveries. Built during the reign of Manuel I, nicknamed the 'adventurer' owing to the riches he came by in India, it is a fine example of the 'Manueline'style of architecture, which highlighted the maritime theme. In those days, the banks of the river Tagus were nearer, and it was possible to watch the boats coming in to port, laiden with the spices that brought so much wealth to Portugal.

Lisbon during the great Discoveries

During those Maritime discoveries, Portugal used their riches to expand the city, much like many other cities in that time. A royal palace was built in the 'ribeira' and a new thoroughfare, 'Rua Nova' was created and quickly became the new commercial centre, now known as the 'Baixa'. The Praça do Rossio and the Terreiro do Passo, which became a meeting place for the locals were also constructed. The 'Casa de India' was founded, and it was here that all the business was taken care of and all along the bank of the river, beautiful homes were being built for the aristocrats of the time, e west, the magnificent 'Palacio Corte Real' was built the most famous one being the 'Casa dos Bicos', built by Afonso de Albuquerque's son.

A number of religious buildings were also constructed, examples being the Jerónimos Covent (1499) and the Mother of God (1509) convents. An urbunization plan was also being considered, this later became the district of Bairro Alto.

Manuel I continued the development of the city and the Rossio and the Torre de belem are built between 1515 and 1521. Between 1650 and 1755, the Palace of Necessidades was constructed and notably the majestic Aqueduct, built between 1713 and 1748, which brought many benfits to the City of Lisbon.


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