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Lisbon Primer


Located near the mouth on the right bank of the Tagus River Lisbon is the westernmost capital of Europe.   The historic city center is composed of seven hills, and some of the streets too narrow to allow the passage of vehicles. About 2.8 million people live in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (which represents approximately 27% of the country's population) The Lisbon region is the wealthiest region in Portugal and it is well above the European Union's GDP per capita average

The historic city center is composed of seven hills, and some of the streets too narrow to allow the passage of vehicles. The city is served by three lifts and an elevator, making it easier to transverse the hilly terrain. The western part of the city is occupied by the Monsanto Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe with an area of nearly 10 square kilometers.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by centuries. Ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century, it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders under Afonso Henriques reconquered the city and since then it has been a major political, economic and cultural center of Portugal.

Most of the Portuguese expeditions of the Age of Discovery left Lisbon from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century, including Vasco da Gama's expedition to India in 1498.  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. The Portuguese acquired great riches by exploiting the trade in spices, slaves, sugar, textiles and other goods with their colonial empire.

In November 1755, the city was destroyed by a devastating earthquake, which killed an estimated 30% of the population and destroyed 85 % of the city's structures. The decision was made to completely rebuild the city in the Parisian style of star, (5 street), intersections. Today Lisbon is a city of grand boulevards and intimate neighborhoods. Clattering street cars ease getting from place to place and add immense character to the city.

Lisbon’s nightlife is becoming  one of Europe’s best with stylish bar and restaurants. Cocktail Culture is the vibe here as many places offer over 100 unique cocktails. If you don’t like your drink trade it in for a different one!  Lisbon deftly blends a little of the old with the demands of a modern capital.

And if you tire of it there are medieval villages, swanky beaches, and surfing mecca’s nearby.

The fairytale castles and palaces of Sintra are only 40 minutes away. Nearby the towns of the Portuguese Riviera are destinations for surfers and golfers.  Or if your taste is more historic, the medieval towns of Obidos and the rococo palace Queluz are easy trips from Lisbon.

Some of the must-see places in Lisbon are:

Jeronimos - a World Heritage Gothic Monastery
the medieval Belem Tower that stands guard over the Targa River
Sao Jorge Moorish Castle and palace ruins
Sao Roque Church & Santa Catarina Church, are exceptionally lavish masterpieces of Baroque art and style
Madre de Deus Convent, formerly a lavish convent it is now a museum housed in a beautiful church
Alfama district one of the oldest parts of the city with charming streets that are a world away from modern Lisbon

Downtown Lisbon view of the Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon (Portugal).

Jeronimos  Gothic Monastery

 Praca dos Restauradores Square and Monument

Rossio Train Station