The strategic location of Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus River has contributed to the city’s importance as a centre of trade between the Mediterranean Sea and northern Europe. It was originally settled by the Celts and subsequently captured by the Carthaginians, Romans, Suebi, Visigoths, and Moors. Christian crusaders later captured the city, forming the long-term Portuguese Royal Family.
Lisbon flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Portuguese Age of Discovery, which lead to the accumulation of great wealth and power. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake destroyed much of Lisbon and further disaster fell in 1807 when Napoleon’s forces occupied Lisbon. However, the city slowly rebuilt over the 19th Century.
In 1910, the Republicans established the Portuguese Republic with the Estado Novo regime, the longest-living dictatorship in Western Europe ruled by Salazar. It was deposed by the 1974 by the Carnation Revolution and Portugal joined the European Community in 1986. Recent improvements to the metro system and the revival of older buildings in the city have transformed Lisbon into one of the trendiest cities in Europe.
Lisbon and nearby Sintra have three sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, in Lisbon and Palácio da Pena in Sintra.
Belém was where Portuguese explorers set off from on their voyages of discovery. Belém Tower is a fortified lighthouse, which stands on a little island on the right hand side of the Tagus. It was originally intended to guard the entrance to the port against invasion or pirate raids, but today it offers incredible views over the city.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is a monastery with amazing stonework and burial place of the greatest Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama. Sintra is a beautiful dreamy town dotted with tourist hotspots and historic attractions, such as the grand Palácio da Pena: a fairytale-like castle that sits atop a mighty hill, offering incredible views over the town below.
The heart of the city of Lisbon is Baixa. This historic district was constructed after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Its most notable feature is the Rua Augusta Arch, a triumphal arch designed as a gateway to the city. An elevator, located inside the arch, takes you to a vantage point that offers beautiful views over downtown, the Praça do Comércio and the Tagus River.
Lisbon's castle, Castelo de São Jorge, is an incredible piece of architecture that stands on top of the city's highest hill. Not only does it offer cultural and historical significance, but also provides beautiful views of the city and river, making it a fun trip for history-buffs and lay folk alike.
If you’re a fan of modern architecture, pay a visit to Parque das Nações: the newest district in Lisbon. Check out the Orient Railway Station, a truly eye-catching building and one of the main transportation centres of Lisbon. Here you can also find one of the world's longest bridges, the stunning Vasco da Gama Bridge.
Shopping, Restaurants and Nighlife
If it’s shopping you crave then pay Chiado a visit, Lisbon’s traditional shopping area. Here you can buy clothes from trendy designer boutiques, as well as books, crafts and pottery. You will also find plenty of coffee shops and restaurants serving traditional cakes such as ‘Pastéis de Nata’ and typical cod fish dishes called ’Bacalhau’.
As you can probably see, there’s never a dull moment in Lisbon.