Lisbon is located by the Tagus River, near the Atlantic Ocean coast and enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm to hot summers. The capital city is one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest in Western Europe. It has a population of approximately 600,000, with about 400,000 additional people entering the city every day from the suburbs and neighbouring satellite cities.
The legend says that Lisbon was founded by Ulysses and the city name comes from “Olissipo”, which has its origins in the Phoenician words “Allis Ubbo”, meaning “enchanting port”.
Following the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Lisbon was occupied by several different peoples before being taken by Muslim forces in 711. The city was ruled by Moors, as they were known, for 450 years, until the 12th Century when it was decisively conquered by Christian crusaders on the second attempt. The Arabic influence is present throughout the city, especially in the old quarters, such as the quaint Alfama neighbourhood.
In the mid of 13th Century, due to its central location, the city became the capital of the newly founded Portuguese territory.
The 15th Century saw the beginning of the Portuguese Discoveries, which would turn Lisbon into a very rich port as a spice and jewellery trade town, and Portugal into a very rich and powerful country. It was an empire on which, allegedly, the sun never set, and which included many African countries, Brazil and outposts, in Asia such as the cities of Goa, Damão and Diu.
Architecturally, this period is more evident in the buildings constructed in the Manueline style, a late Gothic style characterized by nautical references, which are present in many monuments in the Belém area, for example, the Jerónimos Monastery. Later, gold from Brazil also used for especially noteworthy examples of Baroque and Rococo architecture.
An absolutely key event in the history of Lisbon was the earthquake on the 1st of November 1755, which completely destroyed the city's downtown area. Between the earthquake itself, and the tsunami and fires that followed, 60,000 to 90,000 people were killed. After this, the city was rebuilt thanks to the dynamic and visionary Marquês de Pombal, who decided to demolish the remains of the medieval town and rebuild a new city centre with wide streets and a modern urban design. The city centre was reconstructed in an open rectangular plan with two squares, the Praça do Rossio and the Praça do Comércio. The first one marks the beginning of downtown Lisbon, a central commercial area with a variety of shops, theatres and restaurants, and the second one became the main access to the Tagus River. The original layout from Marquês de Pombal has been preserved until today, as have most buildings built during this time period. Together these areas are referred to as Baixa Pombalina in recognition of his contribution to the city of Lisbon
For those staying longer than a few days, the surrounding areas of the capital, Sintra, Mafra, Estoril, Cascais and Ericeira also include magnificent sights, beautiful landscapes and several great beaches.
For more information please visit the official Lisbon Tourism's website.