A short business trip to Lisboa (aka Lisbon), Portugal last week was a good opportunity to the share the sights of this beautiful old city with my Modern Ventura – and wife!
• The capital and largest city of Portugal, with a population of nearly 600,000 in the central administrative area,
• The 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union,
• Continental Europe's westernmost capital city - and the only one along the Atlantic coast,
• The westernmost point of Continental Europe,
• One of Europe’s major economic centres, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe's Atlantic coast,
• The 7th-most visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Athens and Milan,
• 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.
Julius Caesar made Lisbon a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. It was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century before being 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 centre of Portugal. Unlike most capital cities, Lisbon's status as the capital of Portugal has never been granted or confirmed officially – by statute or in written form. Rather, its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention.
This first picture shows the old city from the vantage point of Castel de Sao Jorge (St Jorge’s Castle), looking towards the 25th of April suspension bridge across the Tagus River. The bridge was renamed to commemorate the final (well, most recent….) revolution, the Carnation Revolution, which took place on 25 April 1974, ending the right-wing Estado Novo (New Estate) and reforming the country into the current Portuguese Third Republic.
By coincidence, not only is the 25th of April tomorrow and a day of significance to the Portuguese, it is also a day commemorated by us Australians and our Kiwi cousins. We mark it as ANZAC Day, the day in 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (and other Empire allies) stormed Turkish beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsular. After eight months of slaughter more than 44,000 Empire troops and 85,000 Ottoman Turks were dead and the battle had stalemated. Lest We Forget!
Another view from the Castel de Sao Jorge.
The Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) is situated right on the bank of the Tagus river. It is still commonly known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard) because it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Ribeira Palace) until it was destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
The oldest part of Lisbon sits in the bottom of a valley so, travelling away from the Praça do Comércio, things get steep rather quickly. The streets are cobbled and narrow and there are many sights such as this:
The Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Elevator) also called the Elevador do Carmo, is an outdoor elevator in the civil parish of Santa Justa, in the heart of the historical centre of Lisbon. For a EUR5 ticket charge you will be transported from the lower streets of the Baixa district to the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square).
The view from the top of the elevator is fantastic. We were out and about early so the number of people was minimal – giving one a good view of the footpaths’/sidewalks’ famous mosaic cobbling.
And finally, the main boulevard in and out of the old city centre, the mile long Avenida Da Liberdade (Avenue of Liberty). Built in the 19th century in the style of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, this is the main avenue of the city, running from Restauradores to Marquês de Pombal Square. The footpath mosaics here are just incredible:
If you ever have the opportunity to visit this beautiful window into all the best that historic Europe has to offer then, as we say in Australia, “do yourself a favour” and go.