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Lisbon Guide: 10 secrets of the city you have to know

Lisbon guide

This small Lisbon guide will show you some of the hidden facts about Lisbon that will totally surprise you.

1. In the summer the average length of a day is 11 hours

That’s right it’s not misspelled: in Lisbon you have more than 11 hours of sunlight during the summer making those long days perfect for relaxing at a esplanade or enjoying the gorgeous sunlight of the city.

lisbon guide

Everlasting summer days in Lisbon

No wonder you see restaurants filled until close to midnight and night clubs starting to fill only after 2 in the morning..

Lisbon guide Insider tip: in summer avoid dining before 9 pm because usually the party goes on until sunlight

Source:Hong Kong Observatory

2. The annual average precipitation in Lisbon is 750mm which means..

..its almost as rainy  as London with its 750mm average.

How can this be?

lisbon beautifull

Lisbon sky after a storm

The numbers don`t lie so there`s a reason for this: in London usually it rains evenly an average of 233 days per year while in Lisbon it rains a LOT mainly in the winter , which gives an annual average of 117 not so shinny days.

Source: World meteorological organization

Lisbon guide Insider tip: in the winter months bring plenty of rain gear when you go for a tour – don`t be fooled by the sunny weather outside as it can change in a matter of minutes

3. The statue of the “Cristo Rei” you see on the south bank of the tagus river is a copy..

lisbon guide

Cristo rei statue near the bridge

…from the original one built three years earlier in Rio de Janeiro.

When the Cardinal Cerejeira (head of the Portuguese Catholic Church for decades) visited Rio de Janeiro in 1934 he was so amazed by the Christ statue overlooking the city that he decided to influence the Portuguese government and church for the construction of a similar monument.

In 1959, after 7 years since the beginning of the construction works, the “Cristo Rei” statue was finally done, laying on top of a hill in the south bank of the Tagus river in Almada, with the giant Christ image facing Lisbon with its open arms.

The Cristo rei Statue arms stretch 28 meters like the Rio de Janeiro Cristo redentor , being 2 meters shorter ( 28m) than its Brazilian counterpart ( 30m)

Lisbon guide Insider tip: plan your trip to the top of the statue paying attention to weather as windy days can make it scary up there

Source: Santuário Nacional do Cristo Rei

4. Lisbon is older than you think

The first elements found by researchers of human occupation in Lisbon date back to 10.000 BC , that`s 12000 years of history for a city that always held a strategic value because of its geographical location.

In 195 BC  Lisbon ( at the time named Olissipo) was granted the city status by the roman emperor, however afterwards it witnessed centuries of wars against invading armies and the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula (an area that today is Portugal and Spain in the map).

lisbon guide

In the beginning there was more than birds

Only in 1147 things settled down as Lisbon was re conquered for good by the first Portuguese King D. Afonso Henriques during the Christian crusade wars, and since then is part of Portuguese territory.

Lisbon guide Insider tip: nowadays the oldest monument you can visit  in Lisbon is the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major (Sé de Lisboa” in Portuguese), since it was the only building from the ancient era to survive the 1755 earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the city.


Source: pre historic europe


5. Lisbon has a green forest that occupies 10% of the city territory

Monsanto, the giant green forest park  in Lisbon, is one of the best well kept secrets of the city as it is not easily accessed area by public transportation.

This green spot has nearly 1000 acres of area and is very popular among runners, cyclists and bird watchers.

LIsbon guide

Lets hit the trails?

Its wildlife includes many species of birds, rabbits and squirrels, which find the perfect habitat in a forest that was only created in the 1950`s to avoid this area occupation with buildings and heavy traffic roads.

Lisbon guide Insider Tip: Despite being a safe place to visit, get a local guide who knows the area before you venture into its paths as it is not uncommon even for locals getting lost and roaming around for hours.

Source: Lisbon city Council

6. The half marathon (21k) world record was set in Lisbon

In 2010 Zersenay Tadese from Eritreia established the record that still holds to date as he ran the 21kms between the 25th April bridge and the Jeronimos Square in Belem in 58 minutes and 23 seconds.

The Lisbon Half Marathon is famous not only for the famous image where thousands of runners cross the bridge but also for its flat fast course that attracts record breaking contenders from all around the world.

Lisbon guide Insider tip: if this guy lived at the Flintstones age he would own the fastest car

Source: IAAF

7. The longest bridge in Europe was built in Lisbon

The Vasco da Gama bridge with 17km long is the longest bridge in Europe and it was built before the 1998 World expo help in Lisbon.

In the middle of the bridge the road is higher above the river to allow larger ships to pass underneath, however most of its extension is relatively low to the river.

lisbon tour vasco da gama bridge

Vasco da Gama bridge: an ambitious construction that is a modern symbol of Lisbon and Portugal

In the south bank you can see many colonies of wild birds that have made this area the perfect place to live because of the amount of seafood in the river shore.

Lisbon guide Insider tip: if you go to the south bank use the Vasco da Gama bridge when you leave Lisbon and return by the 25th of April bridge: it`s cheaper and you`ll get a perfect view of the city as it is closer to the center.

Source: Wikipedia

8. Museums are 100% free..

On the 1st Sunday of every month 🙂

One of the ways the state has find to spark more interest in culture and arts among Portuguese was declaring a 100% free entrance on every museums and attractions in a set day per month.

museu coches entranceQ

The carriage museum is one of the most popular attractions in Lisbon

Lisbon guide Insider tip: plan your visit for the morning as museums and monuments can get overcrowded in the afternoon as Portuguese are usually more active after lunch.

Source: DGPC

9. Lisbon is the second less populated capital of Europe

With just 540.000 inhabitants Lisbon is just 20000 people shy of being the Europe`s less populated Capital city ( the title goes to Vilnius in Lithuania).

There is no definite explanation for this as the country is relatively small and still has 10 million inhabitants; however the high prices of the houses in the city considering the average Portuguese salary may have something to do with this.

lisbon guide

Where is everybody?

During weekdays Lisbon can actually accommodate up to 2 million people since most of the working force lives in the surrounding cities of Sintra, oeiras, Loures, Almada, Amadora or Cascais.

Lisbon guide Insider tip: In the weekends  you can usually walk around the city easier since you share the space with 50% less cars and 25% of the people compared to weekdays.

Source: Eurostat

10. The S. Jorge Medieval Castle was actually built  in the 1930`s

After the big 1755 earthquake that leveled down most Lisbon buildings, the ruins of the Castle were stored at a safe place and only in 1938 the fortification was rebuild almost entirely.

lisbon guide

The castle is there that`s what matters

The pictures from the pre rebuilding area are scarce and hard to find as the dictatorial regime established in 1926 did not want the entire country to be aware of them, as the rebuilding  had a political message beneath: to restore national and patriotic values that helped to maintain the power.

Source: Monuments

Lisbon guide Insider tip: Get your entrance tickets for the castle early in the morning to avoid the afternoon crowds

Other stuff you may find interesting

Why is Sintra such a magical place?

Lisbon is eternal..

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