|Lisbon Travel Guide|
Lisbon has cultural diversity, laid-back feel and architectural time warp, and you have one of the most enjoyable cities in Europe and also one of the most economical. Lisbon's position on seven low hills beside a river once lured traders and settlers, and it's still a stunning site.
Lisbon´s heart are wide, tree-lined avenues graced by Art Nouveau buildings, mosaic pavements and street cafes. Seen from the river - one of the city's many great viewpoints, Lisbon is an impressionist picture of low-rise ochre and pastel, punctuated by church towers and domes.
Facts in a glance
205 BC: the Romans began their two-century reign in Lisbon, and it became the most important city in the western Iberian region, renamed Felicitas Julia by Julius Caesar.
714: the powerful Moors arrived from Morocco, replacing a succession of northern tribes. They fortified the city and held out against Christian attack for an impressive 400 years.
1147: the Moors' luck had turned and the Christians finally recaptured Lisbon. In the mid-13th century Lisbon replaced Coimbra as Portugal's capital and developed rapidly on the back of booming maritime and inland trade.
15th century: It was the Age of Discoveries, Portugal's golden era of sea exploration. Not satisfied with repelling the Moors from Portuguese soil, Prince Henrique "the Navigator" decided to sap Islam's economic power by finding a way around it by sea. He put to work the best sailors, map makers, ship builders and astronomers he could find.
1434: The Prince was rewarded with gold and slaves from West Africa. One of his ships sailed beyond the much-feared Cape Bojador on the West African coast, breaking a maritime superstition that this was the end of the world.
1497: Vasco da Gama's makes famous discovery of the sea route to India. It also spawned the extravagant Manueline architectural style, best typified in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém. The wealth from these expeditions transformed Lisbon into the opulent seat of a vast empire.
1580: Lisbon's glory days as the world's most prosperous trading centre were short lived. The cost of expeditions, maintaining overseas empires and attempting to Christianise Morocco brought Portugal to its knees. In a bitter blow to national pride, Felipe II of Spain claimed the throne, and it took 60 years for fed-up nationalists to overthrow their traditional rival and return Portugal to its people.
17th century: The discovery of gold in Brazil saw Lisbon enjoy another period of profligate expenditure. Again, however, this extravagance was cut short.
1755: A massive earthquake reduced the city to rubble and Lisbon never recovered its power and prestige. After Napoleon's four-year occupation of the city Lisbon, fell into political chaos and military insurrection for over a century.
20th century: A 16-year period brought 45 changes in government. Yet another coup in 1926 brought António de Oliveira Salazar onto the scene. Quickly rising from finance minister to prime minister, he ruled Portugal for 36 years, heading an authoritarian regime that lasted until 1976. During his rule, political parties and strikes were banned. Censorship, propaganda and brute force, exemplified by a feared secret police force, kept the country in order.
1974: The revolution in response to the continued unpopular military suppression of Portuguese colonies, brought a a slow road to democracy. With the injection of funds, Lisbon (and Portugal) finally began to shake off its depressed Salazar-era looks and lifestyle. More political turbulence gradually changed to stability and ultimately membership of the European Union in 1986. In recent years, more stable government combined with massive funding (especially welcome in Lisbon after a major fire in 1988 destroyed the Chiado district) has led to the city's rejuvenation.
1994: Lisbon has now regained some pride in its past and, with a revitalised and vibrant urban life and more huge infrastructure projects planned, looks forward to a future firmly within Europe. It returned to the limelight as European City of Culture. The following years of spectacular economic growth were boosted by major infrastructure projects such as the Ponte de Vasco da Gama, the longest river crossing in Portugal. Redevelopment schemes throughout the city have included restoration of historic neighbourhoods such as the Alfama. Lisbon was given a further sprucing for its role of host to Expo '98. In the run-up to the Expo, the metro was expanded, port facilities extended, hotel construction went into high gear and leading architects created some stunning monuments.