A Lisbon tour is a great opportunity to discover the capital of Portugal born in the Roman Empire when Julio Cesar gave it the municipality status.
By the eighth century the city had been dominated by the Moors from North Africa, when D. Afonso Henriques, 1st King and founder of Portugal, reconquered the city during the crusades and since then it has remained Portuguese territory and later on the capital of the colonial empire.
In the fifteenth century with the beginning of the maritime expansion that would ultimate allow the discovery of the sea route to India, Brazil and important points on the coast of Africa like Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau, Lisbon played a world class role. The city was now established as one of the most important ports in Europe between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries as it became the land where gold and spices arrived , products that where highly valuable assets in the old continent.
All this trade and movement made Lisbon the meeting place for thousands of merchants from all across Europe ,replacing the ports of the Mediterranean sea as primary trading areas.
After the restoration of independence in 1640 (Portugal was ruled by Spain from 1580 to 1640 as a result of a succession crisis in the royal family) religious orders gained unparalleled power in the capital and began the construction of several convents totaling at this time about 70.
It was during this period that King John V ordered the construction of the most emblematic construction to that date, the “aqueduto das Águas Livres” (aqueduct of the free waters) that supplied water to the whole city through a complex and innovative design of pipelines and channels.
On the November 1st of 1755 a great earthquake followed by a tsunami destroyed most of the medieval Lisbon, leveling down the entire downtown and lower neighbors of the city.
This tragedy marked a turning point in the architecture and organization of the capital that was rebuild from scratch following a large plan drawn up by the Prime Minister of the time, the Marquis of Pombal, that after a Lisbon tour decided to start an ambitious plan.
The Marquis is remembered still today by a huge statue that still marks the roundabout with its name that lies on top of the Avenida da Liberdade.
The Rossio and downtown are as well as the large square of Terreiro do Paço are built during this period, and have since then became one of Lisbon tour top attractions.
Following an economic and social turbulent nineteen century, the Terreiro do Paço square witnessed the murder of King Carlos and his eldest son Don Luis by anarchists and republican party supporters in 1908 during a Lisbon tour.
This tragic episode lead to the appointment of the King’s 19 year old son , Prince Manuel II, as the new monarch.
Following a series of social and political unrest in line with the anti-monarchy prevailing thought in Europe,in 1910 Lisbon witnessed the declaration of the Portuguese Republic , an announcement made from the building where currently is the Capital City Hall.
This episode marked the end of more than 700 years of monarchy in Portugal and lead to the royal family exile in Europe.
Lisbon has always been the stage for all the political and social revolutions that occurred in Portugal so it naturally witnessed the end of the 1st Republic in 1926, when catholic ultra conservative forces overtook power ,supported by an army dissatisfied with the pre civil war winds in the country.
The second Republic emerged from this coup that nominated Mr Oliveira Salazar as Prime Minister, this way a non-democratic regime that lasted until 1974 was born.
Estado Novo ( new state) was the name of the new leadership that lasted almost 50 years , a period during which both the architecture and Lisbon landscape undergone major changes which started a Lisbon tour movement that grew until today.
Examples are the planting of the Monsanto Forest, the construction of the 25th April bridge, the Duarte Pacheco bridge, or the implementation of new residential areas with wider streets and taller buildings.
On the 25 of April 1974 a military revolution supported by the people led to the overthrow of the Prime Minister Marcelo Caetano ( that succeeded to Salazar in 1968), , a very significant episode that occurred in Largo do Carmo, a a plaza near Chiado.
The Democratic regime ,the 3rd Republic, was only 11 years old when in 1985 Portugal joined the European Union ( at the time called CEE), a fundamental step stone for raising Portuguese levels of income and development.
Lisbon witnessed major social and infrastructure changes as a result of the funds coming from Europe , helping to modernize the city and the region.
In 1998 the city hosted the world exposition, the EXPO98, an enormous success with the participation of almost every country in the World, making a Lisbon tour one of the top activities in the country for visitors.
This event was an opportunity to rebuild the entire eastern part of Lisbon ( by that time was still a giant amount of junkyards and abandoned mills), an area that is now made of tall buildings and large avenues called Parque das Nações (Nations Park).
Here the calm breeze invites us to a long walk by the riverside, visit the Oceanário (a big sea life exhibition) and admire the modern buildings that host for conferences and concerts like the MEO arena.
While creating this new area the government decided to built the Vasco da Gama bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world (17 km long), which connects the north of the country with the south, providing a fast safe route to Alentejo and Algarve .
In 2004 Portugal hosted the European football Cup (EURO 2004,) and Lisbon was the main city for the event .
Two big arenas were built for later to become the home of the most important clubs in the Capital: the Stadium of Light with capacity for 65,000 people and currently the stadium of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, and the AlvaladeXXI a stadium for 50,000 people and home of Sporting Clube de Portugal.
These and many other stories make a Lisbon tour a top choice while staying in Portugal.
Have a nice day 🙂