Skip to main content
our twitterour facebook page pintrest youtube
Thanks to its unique light, Lisbon is called "the white city". During the Era of Discoveries, the city's Golden Age in the 15th and 16th centuries, the city gained the reputation as the eighth wonder of the world. Travelers returning from Lisbon talked of its riches rivaling those of Venice. Today, Lisbon is as romantic as Paris, as fun as Madrid and as relaxed as Rome, but it is small compared to other European cities, and its size and ease encourages exploration and personal discovery. The city has a beauty that extends beyond the famed monuments and castles. Some of that beauty can be only experienced by the senses as you wonder along the narrow, cobbled stone streets, along sidewalks laid out with dizzying mosaics. The culture, the history, the architecture and the people are the fundamental aspects of Lisbon's identity and as you explore them, you discover your own, personal map of the city. Music and theatre flourish in Lisbon, Portugal's musical centre and the birthplace of fado, with concerts and festivals covering all genres. There are four important football teams based in Lisbon and sport is an important feature of daily life, as you will see from the predominance of sports newspapers on the newsstands. In a country that is largely provincial, Lisbon offers the resident and visitor alike the opportunity to experience the rare cosmopolitan side to life in Portugal. 

The lower part of Lisbon was completely flattened during an earthquake in 1755 and rebuilt in a decade, so the architecture of the Baixa quarter is quite uniformly 18th-century. The earthquake ended Lisbon's reign as the most significant port in Europe but, as a town that has been active since Roman times, Lisbon was not going to give up lightly. Romans and Moors used Lisbon as a trading post and it grew into a sizeable town by the 12th century. In 1255 Lisbon became the capital of Portugal, taking over from Coimbra. In the 15th and 16th century and again in the 18th century, Lisbon was at the forefront of international exploration as trade routes to India and Brazil were discovered. Architecture from these wealthy periods, especially the flamboyant Manueline style, dominates Lisbon's principal monuments, such as the monastery at Belém. As a small city, Lisbon is a delight to discover on foot. When the hills and the heat get too much for you, hop on one of the funicular railways (elevadors) or trams and let them do the work. Whilst wandering around you will see the changing ambience in the quarters, the 18th-century repose of the latticed streets in the Baixa, the Moorish Alfama district near the Castelo São Jorge with its winding streets, and chic Chiado shopping district. A medley of sounds including the heart-rending strains of fado, ear-bursting traffic noises and African musical rhythms provides the aural backdrop.

Those who don't believe Lisbon is paradise can check with the flamingos. Thousands of them come early every spring and stay for a while right in the Tagus River Estuary. These lovely birds, along with storks and herons, the tropical flowers and exotic trees add yet another dimension to the capital city of Portugal. Lisboa, because of its unique and enticing light, is called the "white city". It is not only monumental and historic but also free-spirited, green and exotic. Lisbon was was first settled by the Phoenicians and in 60 BC the Romans made it the provincial capital. Over two thousand years the city's rich history was woven with many conquests, tragedies and victories.

Today, it is a city as romantic as Paris, as much fun as Madrid and as laid-back as Rome, yet it is small enough to encourage personal exploration. Located on seven hills, the city's architectural beauty and its faded glory are expressed through its Baroque cafes, velvet-lined bars and Art Deco bakeries which add to the charm of Lisbon and make it difficult to leave. The cobbled, narrow streets and sidewalks laid out in dizzying mosaic patterns lead from one unique neighborhood to another until you discover it for yourself and create your own map of the city. Even with its ancient roots, Lisbon is very much looking into the future. There are many imposing new structures, representative of modern European architecture, but Lisbon has always been fascinated by the Americas. This fascination is echoed by its response to Rio de Janeiro with the statue of Christo Rei dominating the city and its response to San Francisco with its 25 of April Bridge.