A tourist may hit the highlights of Lisbon, Portugal in three or four days. However, to really know Lisbon is the endeavor of a lifetime. As you fly into the Lisbon airport, you will have a bird’s eye view of this remarkable city built on hills. The golden sun gently touches the monuments and the water of the Tagus River. It looks like a fairy tale land. In a short time, you will be walking on the ground of a country full of history.
Early in Lisbon’s history a tribe of Celts, the Cempsi, migrated south by way of France to Portugal. Other groups blended into the culture. The Phoenicians discovered the Tagus River harbor, and realized that this port would be a good stopping place for them on their voyages to other places to which they carried cargo. They are thought to be responsible for the name of Lisbon, which means “good port.”
The Portuguese have ever been a hardy, independent people. Rome defeated Gaul in seven years. It took them two centuries to defeat the Portuguese people. You can see what Roman settlements looked like at Conimbriga, a Roman settlement that is a day trip from Lisbon, Portugal.
During the Middle Ages, the Muslims overran the Iberian Peninsula. They built a lot of mosques and their architectural tradition is still seen today. Though the Muslims ruled over the peninsula, they permitted other peoples to maintain their own cultural and social habits, including their Christianity. The Muslim influence on Portugal is clearly seen in the Alfama section of Lisbon that escaped the damage of the great earthquake of 1755. Much of the rest of the city was destroyed, and the tsunami that followed destroyed coasts from Spain to Cornwall in the United Kingdom.
More recently, Portugal’s last King, Carlos I was assassinated in 1908 leading to Portugal’s first Republic. During World War II, Portugal remained neutral, and Lisbon was overflowing with spies from many countries. Many escapees left through the Port of Lisbon.
When you visit Lisbon, you’ll want these stops included:
Monastery of the Jeronimos and Alfama are both part of UNESCO World Heritage.
- Tower of Belém, Lisbon’s early defense and the Custom House
- Palacio de Ajuda – the winter palace of Portugal’s last king.
- National Tile Museum – the Portuguese are famous for their beautiful tiles.
- Castle of St. George and gardens overlooking Lisbon.
- Palacio de Sintra –summer palace of the last king.
Where in the world would you like to visit?