Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe, with a history that stretches back to its original settlement by the indigenous Iberians, the Celts, and the eventual establishment of Phoenician and Greek trading posts (VIII–VI centuries BC). Roman armies first entered the Iberian Peninsula in 219 BC, and occupied the Lusitanian city of Olissipo (Lisbon) in 205 BC.
In 711, Islamic Moors invaded the Christian Iberian Peninsula, conquering Lisbon in 714. What is now Portugal first became part of the Emirate of Córdoba and then of its successor state, the Caliphate of Córdoba. Lisbon remained a Muslim possession until 1147, when Christian crusaders captured the city and Christian rule returned. In 1256, King Afonso III moved his capital from Coimbra to Lisbon, taking advantage of the city’s excellent port and its strategic central position.
Lisbon flourished in the XV and XVI centuries as the centre of a vast empire during the period of the Portuguese discoveries. This was a time of intensive maritime exploration, when the Kingdom of Portugal accumulated great wealth and power through its colonisation of Asia, South America, Africa and the Atlantic islands.
During the Peninsular War, (1807–1814) Napoleon’s forces began a four-year occupation of the city in December 1807, and Lisbon descended with the rest of the country into anarchy. The XX century brought political upheaval to Lisbon and the nation as a whole. The right-wing Estado Novo regime, which ruled the country from 1926 to 1974, suppressed civil liberties and political freedom in the longest-lived dictatorship in Western Europe. It was finally deposed by the Carnation Revolution in 1974.
Portugal joined the European Community (EC) in 1986, and subsequently received massive funding to spur redevelopment. Lisbon’s local infrastructure was improved with new investment and its container port became the largest on the Atlantic coast. The city was in the limelight as the 1994 European City of Culture, as well as host of Expo ’98 and the 2004 European Football Championships. The year 2006 saw continuing urban renewal projects throughout the city, ranging from the restoration of the Praça de Touros (Lisbon’s bullring) and its re-opening as a multi-event venue, to improvements of the metro system and building rehabilitation in the Alfama.
The city of Lisbon is rich in architecture: Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern constructions can be found all over Lisbon. The city is also crossed by historical boulevards and monuments along the main thoroughfares, particularly in the upper districts; notable among these are the Avenida da Liberdade (Avenue of Liberty), Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo, Avenida Almirante Reis and Avenida da República (Avenue of the Republic).
There are several substantial museums in the city. The most famous ones are the National Museum of Ancient Art, the National Azulejo Museum, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Costume and Fashion, the Berardo Collection Museum, the Electricity Museum, the National Coach Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and Science, Museum of the Orient, and the Lisbon City Museum.
The monument to Christ the King (Cristo-Rei) stands on the southern bank of the Tagus River, in Almada. It resembles the Corcovado monument in Rio de Janeiro, and was built after World War II, as a memorial of thanksgiving for Portugal’s being spared the horrors and destruction of the war.
Lisbon has two sites listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site: Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Furthermore, Eduardo VII Park, the second largest park in the city following the Monsanto Forest Park, extends down the main avenue (Avenida da Liberdade), with many flowering plants and green spaces. It also includes the permanent collection of subtropical and tropical plants in the winter garden. Originally named Parque da Liberdade, it was renamed in honour of Edward VII of England who visited Lisbon in 1903.
If you are interested in extra tourist information, as well as in tips, tricks, news and guides about Lisbon, please take a look at: Lisbon Guide
Lisbon Photo Gallery