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Lisbon is the perfect city to spend a few days in. It's compact, reasonably priced, offers a wealth of culture and enjoys a pleasant climate almost all year round.

Lisbon lies on the Tagus river and has a huge amount to offer in terms of culture. The city has beautiful squares, stately buildings and a fascinating history. As you stroll through the old quarters in the city, it seems as though time has stood still for the past hundred years.

Another advantage of the city is its relatively small historical heart. Everything is readily accessible on foot, although you need to be reasonably fit to take on the city's many hills. If you're not terribly fit you can still move around with ease, thanks to the ancient trams, which sometimes ascend the hills almost vertically. Don't forget to take one of the funiculars which link the upper and lower parts of town either.

Lisbon isn't just about culture, you can eat very well here too. Enjoy all the delicious things that Portuguese cuisine has to offer. Lisbon has numerous excellent little restaurants which are also very reasonably priced. During the summer you can sit out on one of the many pleasant terraces until late at night.

Don't be misled into thinking that you're about to encounter some crazy person when you hear loud singing in the street. What you're hearing is fado, a traditional Portuguese style of singing that's full of passionate grief and emotion. Fado can still be heard in various cafes.

In short: Lisbon is an experience. It's a European city, but one that's just that little bit different from most of its fellow European cities.


Legend has it that Lisbon was founded by the Greek god Ulysses. In fact the city was founded in 1200 BC by the Phoenecians. Romans conquered the port city around 200 BC. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the city fell into the hands of tribes from the north. The Moors invaded the city around 711 AD and Lisbon developed into an important trading centre. Islam became the official religion.

Afonso Henriques conquered Lisbon and declared himself the first King of Portugal in 1139. He restored Christianity as the principal religion. He had an existing fort up on the hill converted into a palace. The palace can still be visited

During the 13th century, the city flourished economically and culturally. The University of Lisbon was founded in 1290. The city became an major commercial centre. The explorer, Vasco da Gama, left for India in 1497. This heralded the beginning of the Portuguese Golden Age. Trade with the Far East brought great wealth with it.

In 1755, Lisbon was badly hit by an earthquake, which also triggered a tsunami and numerous fires. Many people perished in the earthquake and the city was almost completely destroyed. Under the Prime Minister, Marques de Pombal, reconstruction began. His influence is reflected in the orderly street plan seen in the southern part of the Baixa district.

Disquiet and dissatisfaction among the Portuguese people with the republican government led to the National Revolution of 26 May 1926. The military seized power. The leaders of the revolution did away with the First Portuguese Republic and installed a National Dictator.

In 1974, the Anjer Revolution took place. This revolution put an end to Marcello Caetano's autocratic rule. It also put an end to dictatorial rule in Portugal and colonialism. The first democratic elections in years were held in 1975. In 1986, Portugal became a member of the European Union.