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Thursday 23rd February, 2017
Lisbon became the capital of Portugal in 1255. Centuries of turbulent times had resulted in different rulers like the Romans and then the Moors but finally it was wrestled back into Portuguese hands where it became and remains today the proud capital.
It was from Lisbon that most of the exploration caravels sailed and where most of the spices, mainly from India, were later sold to central Europe. So the city was always full of merchants from all over Europe, making it a cooking pot of races and cultures all bubbling together. Lisbon was a very liberal city full with people of high intelligence and religious values and a place where there was very little racial and cultural prejudice.
This cosmopolitan feel is still apparent today but over a much bigger expanse, with a few more people, a few more cars and a few less caravels. The truth is that it is a big European city without being too big! The facts are that it’s about a quarter the size of London - a population of rising close to three million.
The city is sunny nearly all of the year, with a glorious Mediterranean climate makes Lisbon one of the mildest cities in Europe. Almost everybody who visits this city falls in love with it. Lisbon is ever growing into one of the most popular city breaks in Europe.
With the arrival of the New Lisbon airport within the next couple of years which will allow for a near double amount of flyers, Lisbon is bracing itself for even more people coming to visit to enjoy this fantastic city.
The city is rich in architecture, culture, arts and history. The streets are both old and modern, with classic twists of great boulevards and monuments, many hundreds of years old, moving along into a more modern Lisbon, fine restaurants, buzzing designer shopping, and city buildings that wouldn’t go a miss in London or New York.
Built on seven hills Lisbon is all but monotonous; it swerves, it turns, it goes up, its goes down – thankfully its famous yellow trams help with the steep parts! It’s not a city to try and capture within one weekend – that’s a waste. Yes, come for a weekend but book up another before you leave.
We like Lisbon, it has a little bit of everything including incredible historical monuments like “Castelo de São Jorge”, “Mosteiro dos Jeronimos” and “ Padrão dos Descobrimentos” which give tourists and the locals constant reminders of Lisbon’s beauty and past – indelibly linked to its river - the “Tejo” and its entrance to the oceans of exploration. If it’s modern you want, visit the Expo area – Oceanarium, cable cars and a casino with the revolving bar!
Safe, with so much to do and see – traditional and modern – appealing to young and old, Lisbon is highly underrated – but that’s going to change.