Description of Lisbon

Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal and also the capital of the country. It numbers over half a million in population and covers a large area, however its historic centre is what usually draws thousands of tourists here.


Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest city in Western Europe, centuries beyond the age of such modern European capitals as London, Paris.

Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate. It has the warmest winters among all European metropolises - the average temperatures from December to February are 18 ° C during the day and 11 ° C at night. A typical summer season lasts about six months - from May to October, although in April the temperature sometimes reaches 25-32 ° C.


Travel description of Lisbon

Alfama (Lisbon)


Bus: 12, 37, 107, 701, 746
Trolley: 12, 28

Baixa (Lisbon)


Bus: 2, 9, 36, 40, 44, 714, 746
Metro: Rossio, Restauradores, Terreiro do Paco

Castelo de Sao Jorge (Lisbon)

Se (Lisbon)

Sao Vicente de Fora (Lisbon)

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Lisbon)

Rua das Janelas Verdes
Tel. 21- 391 28 00
Bus: 40, 49, 60, 727, 751
Open: Tue- Sun (Tue: pm only)
Closed: public holds

Palacio Nacional de Pena

Balem Tower (Torre de Belem) (Lisbon)

Praca do Comercio (Lisbon)

Bairro Alto

Bus: 6, 9, 22, 714, 727, 732, 738
Metro: Baixa- Chiado

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos



History of Lisbon

Doroman period
During the Neolithic period, the region was inhabited by pre-Celtic tribes who erected religious and funerary monuments, megaliths, dolmens and menhirs, some of which are still preserved on the outskirts of Lisbon. The Celts arrived here in the 1st millennium BC. e. and mixed with the local pre-Indo-European population, laying the foundation for the Celtic-speaking tribes of the Camps (lat. Cempsi).

The results of archaeological excavations give reason to assert the presence in the area of ​​the Phoenicians from 1200 BC. e. It is believed that in the center of the modern city, on the southern slope of Castle Hill, there could be a Phoenician trading port, where Phoenician ships heading north could replenish food supplies. This place is supposed to be called “Alis Ubbo” (blessed bay) because of the convenient port shelter that was formed by the right sleeve of the Tagus River.

Romanesque period
After defeating Hannibal in a series of Punic wars, the Romans set out to deprive Carthage of their most significant possession - Spain (Iberian Peninsula). Carthage troops in eastern Spain were defeated by Scipio Africanus, which allowed the consul Decim Junius Brutus Callaic to pacify the west and sign a peace treaty. Decim secured the support of Olissipo (who sent people to battle along with the Roman legions against the northwestern Celtic tribes) and incorporated him into the empire as Municipium Cives Romanorum Felicitas Julia. Local rulers obtained the right of self-government on the territory of the city and within a radius of 50 kilometers from it; exempted from taxes, its inhabitants received Roman citizenship. Then this territory was included in the Roman province of Lusitania (whose capital was Emerita Augusta).

The raids and riots of the Lusitans necessitated the construction of a wall around the city. During the reign of Octavian Augustus, the Romans also built a large theater; Cassian baths (under Rua da Prata); temples to Jupiter, Diana, Kibele, Tefida and Idea Phrygiae (a small cult from Asia Minor), not counting the temples of the emperor, a large necropolis under Praça da Figueira, a large forum and other buildings such as Insula (multi-storey residential buildings) between Castle Hill and the historic part of the city. Many of these ruins were first excavated in the middle of the XVIII century (at the same time, active excavations of Pompeii were carried out, which contributed to the growth of interest of high society in Roman archeology).

The city flourished when it was possible to solve the problem of piracy. With the advent of technological progress, Felicitas Julia became the center of trade with Roman Britain (in particular, with Cornwall) and the Rhine. The prosperous Olissipo became famous as a place for the production of garum (fish sauce, popular among all classes of the empire, delivered to Rome in amphora), wine, salt, as well as a place for breeding horses. The Roman spirit and culture penetrated deeper into all spheres of life. The city was connected by a wide road with two other major cities of Western Spain - Bracara Augusta (modern Braga, Portugal) in Tarraconia and Emérita Augusta (modern Merida, Spain), the capital of Lusitania. The city was governed by an oligarchic council, in which two families, Julii and Cassiae, played the leading role, although the region was governed by the Roman governor Emerita or directly by the emperor Tiberius. In addition to the Latin-speaking majority, a noticeable number of Greek merchants and slaves also lived in the city.

Olissipo, like most cities in the West of the empire, became the center of the spread of Christianity. The first bishop was Potamy (about 356 years). Among the martyrs of the time of persecution of Christians, Eulalia and Julia can be noted. By the time of the fall of Rome, Olissipo was already a major stronghold of Christians.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, raids of barbarians began to take place - between 409 and 429 years the city was consistently occupied by Sarmatians, Alans, and Vandals. The Sveva Germans, who founded their kingdom in Galleria with the capital in Bracara Augustus, also extended their power to the territory of Lisbon and held it until 585. In 585, the Suev kingdom was included in the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo, which occupied the entire Iberian Peninsula, since then the city began to be called Ulishbon.


Middle Ages
On August 6, 711, Muslims captured Lisbon. The conquerors, mostly Berbers and Arabs from North Africa and the Middle East, erected many mosques and houses, rebuilt the city wall (known as Cerca Moura) and established administrative control allowing a heterogeneous population (movallades, Mosarabs, Berbers, Arabs, Jews, and etc.) to maintain a familiar way of life. Since then, Mosarab has become one of the native languages ​​for most of the Christian population. Islam was the official religion of Arabs, Berbers, Zanji, Scalib and Muladi; Christians were allowed to live while maintaining their religion in the status of Zimmi, for which they had to pay a special tax (jizya), however, in all other matters - property rights, debt obligations and conclusion of contracts - Christians and Jews were equal with Muslims.

Muslim influence is still traced in the modern Alfama district - the old quarter of Lisbon, which survived the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The names of many places are borrowed from the Arabic language - the name Alfama itself comes from the Arabic Al-Hamma.

For a brief period of time, Lisbon was the central city of the Badajoz typhus, and then, as an independent typhus, the Lisbon typhus.

In 1108, Lisbon was recaptured and occupied by the Norwegian crusaders led by Sigurd I on their way to the Holy Land as part of the Norwegian Crusade. In 1111, it was captured by the Almoravid Moors.

In 1147, during the Reconquista, the Crusader Knights, led by Afonso I of Portugal, besieged and recaptured Lisbon. The city, with a population of 154,000 at that time, returned to the Christian way of life. The reconquest of Portugal and the restoration of Christianity is one of the most significant events in the history of Lisbon, described in the chronicle of De expugnatione Lyxbonensi. Some of the Muslims who lived there were converted to Catholicism, while those who were not, for the most part fled to other parts of the Muslim world, mainly to Muslim Spain and North Africa. All mosques were either destroyed or rebuilt in the church. As a result of the end of Muslim rule, spoken Arabic eventually lost its status and went out of use.

Due to its central location, Lisbon became the capital of the new Portuguese lands in 1255. The first Portuguese university was founded in Lisbon in 1290 by King Dinis I; Studium generale (Basic Learning) was carried out intermittently in Coimbra, where it became entrenched by the 16th century, forming the University of Coimbra.

In 1384, the city was besieged by King Juan I of Castile as a result of the outbreak of the crisis of 1383-1385. The siege resulted in the victory of the Portuguese led by Nuno Alvarez Pereira.

During the last centuries of the Middle Ages, the city grew significantly and became an important trading point connecting Northern Europe and the cities of the Mediterranean.

Early New Time
Most of the Portuguese expeditions of the Age of Great Geographical Discoveries began with Lisbon from the 15th to the beginning of the 17th century, including the Vasco da Gama expedition to India in 1498. In 1506, 3,000 Jews were killed in the Lisbon pogrom. The 16th century became the golden one for Lisbon: the city was the main mediator in trade between Europe and Africa, India, Japan and later Brazil. This made it possible to earn great wealth by exploiting the trade in spices, slaves, sugar, textiles and other goods. During this period, there was a rise in the style of Manuelino in architecture, which left traces in many 16th-century monuments (including the Lisbon Torre de Belen and the Jeronimos Monastery, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List). The description of Lisbon was written by Damian di Goysu in the 16th century and published in 1554.

Portugal lost its independence and came under Spanish rule after the hereditary crisis in 1580, starting the 60-year period of the dualistic monarchy of Portugal and Spain under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs. This period is called the Board of the Philippines, since all three Spanish kings were called Philippi (Filipe). The war of liberation, which began with a coup organized by the estates of the nobility and the bourgeois in Lisbon and ended with the restoration of Portuguese independence. The period from 1640 to 1668. was marked by periodic skirmishes of Portugal and Spain, as well as short episodes of more serious hostilities before the signing of the Lisbon Peace Treaty in 1668.


At the beginning of the 18th century, gold from Brazil allowed João V to sponsor the construction of several baroque churches and theaters in the city.

By the 18th century, Lisbon experienced several series of significant earthquakes: eight in the 14th century, five in the 16th century (including the 1531 earthquake that destroyed 1,500 buildings, and the 1597 earthquake that caused 3 city streets to be wiped off the face of the earth) and three in the 17th century. On November 1, 1755, the city was destroyed by another devastating earthquake, which claimed the lives of 30,000 to 40,000 Lisbon residents, according to various estimates, while the city’s population is estimated to be between 200,000 and 275,000, and destroyed 85% of the city’s infrastructure. Among the lost buildings, the most important were the Palace of Ribeira [en] and the Royal Hospital of All Saints. In coastal zones, for example, in Peniche, located about 80 km north of Lisbon, many residents were killed by the subsequent tsunami.

By 1755, Lisbon was one of the largest cities in Europe; a catastrophic event shocked the whole of Europe and left a deep mark in the minds of people. Voltaire wrote a long poem, Poême sur le désastre de Lisbonne, shortly after the earthquake and noted it in his 1759 story Candide (in fact, many believe that this criticism of optimism was inspired by the earthquake). Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. also celebrates this event in his poem The Deacon’s Masterpiece, or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.

After the earthquake of 1755, the city was rebuilt mainly according to the plans of Prime Minister Sebastian José di Carvalho y Melu, Marquis of Pombal; the lower city began to be called Baisha Pombalina (Lower city of Pombalina). Instead of rebuilding the medieval city, Pombal decided to demolish what remained of the earthquake and build an urban center according to the principles of modern urban planning. It was rebuilt with an open rectangular plan with two large areas: Prasa Rociu and Prasa do Comerciu. The first, the main shopping district, has become a traditional meeting place and the location of old cafes, restaurants and theaters; the second became the main urban access to the Tagus River and the point of departure and arrival of sea vessels, decorated with a triumphal arch (1873) and a monument to King Jose I.

Late New Time and Modernity
At the beginning of the 19th century, Portugal was occupied by Napoleon’s troops, which forced Queen Mary I and Prince Regent Juan (future Juan VI) to temporarily sail to Brazil. By the time the new king returned to Lisbon, many buildings and institutions were looted or destroyed by the invaders.

During the 19th century, the liberal movement brought new trends to urban life. The leading role was played by the Baisha and Chiadu districts, where shops, tobacco shops, cafes, bookstores, clubs and theaters began to appear here and there. The development of industry and trade contributed to the further growth of the city and its expansion to the north - further and further from the Tagus River. It was at this time that Avenida da Liberdade (1879) was laid.

In 1908, Lisbon became the site of the assassination of King Carlos I, which ultimately led to the formation of the First Republic two years later.

In 1911, after a break of several centuries, the University of Lisbon reopened its doors, combining many colleges and other higher educational institutions of the city (such as Escola Politécnica, now Faculdade de Ciências). Currently, the city has two state universities (the University of Lisbon and the New Lisbon University), the Institute of the State University (Lisbon University Institute) and the Polytechnic Institute (Lisbon Polytechnic Institute).

During World War II, Lisbon remained one of the few active European ports that remained neutral. It served as the main route for transporting refugees to the United States and was the place of shelter for many spies. More than 100,000 refugees were able to escape from Nazi Germany via Lisbon.

During the regime of the Estado Novo (1926-1974), Lisbon continued to grow at the expense of other regions of the country - many nationalist and monumental projects were initiated. New residential and public buildings appeared; Belem territory was rebuilt for the Portuguese exhibition of 1940. As a result of population growth, new peripheral areas emerged. With the introduction of the bridge over the Tagus, communication between both banks has significantly improved.

In the 20th century, Lisbon was the site of three revolutions. The first of these, the October 5, 1910 revolution, put an end to the Portuguese monarchy and led to the establishment of the extremely unstable and corrupt first Portuguese republic. The revolution of June 6, 1926 put an end to the first republic and led to the establishment of Estado Novo, or the Second Portuguese Republic. The third revolution, the carnation revolution, took place on April 25, 1974 and marked the end of the Estado Novo regime, the beginning of comprehensive reforms and the establishment of the modern Third Portuguese Republic.


In the 1990s, many of the urban areas gained rapid development - projects to modernize public space were launched in the historical quarters; buildings with a rich architectural heritage have undergone restoration; the northern shore of the Tagus was reserved for residential buildings and leisure facilities; the Vasco da Gama bridge was built; The eastern outskirts of the city were prepared for the 1998 World Exhibition (timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's trip to India, which brought untold wealth to Lisbon and caused a flourishing culture, which was also reflected in the architecture of the city).

Restoration also affected the historic Chiado district. The fire that happened in 1988 seriously damaged many buildings of the XVIII century, built in the style of Pombalino. At the end of the restoration work, the area was returned to its former appearance, after which it quickly became a favorite place for shopping and the center of the most prestigious stores.

The Lisbon Strategy - an agreement of the European Union on measures to revive the EU economy - was signed in Lisbon in March 2000. In October 2007, Lisbon hosted the EU Summit 2007, where an agreement was reached on a new model of EU organization. The final Lisbon Agreement was signed on December 13, 2007 and entered into force on December 1, 2009.