Lisbon is Portugal's capital.
It began as a Phoenician trading post, became part of the Roman Empire,
was conquered first by Visigoths and then by Arabs. In 1147 it was taken by the king of Portugal and
in 1256 it became the capital of the kingdom. The city was almost destroyed by the earthquake of 1755,
which caused a tsunami and fires, but it was rebuilt under the leadership of the Marquês de Pombal.
We stayed at a very nice apartment in Lisbon for a week. It had a deck that looked out onto the city's botanical garden.
Small balconies on the other side of the apartment opened onto the street.
The apartment was just a couple of blocks from the Avenida da Liberdade, a tree-lined and shady boulevard.
Other attractive buildings in our neighborhood.
Lisbon is very hilly, but as a result offers outstanding views from all over the city.
of one of these hills is the medieval Castelo de São Jorge (Castle of
Saint George), that served as the main residence for
the kings of Portugal from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. It was mostly destroyed in the earthquake, but restored in 1938.
There is a splendid panorama of Lisbon from the castle.
Below the castle is the oldest part of Lisbon, called the Alfama district. Streetcars help with the steep hills.
In the Alfama district is
Lisbon's cathedral, which dates from the twelfth century.
An archeological dig was going on in the middle of the cloister.
The lowest part of Lisbon
is called Baixa. It was hardest hit by the 1755 earthquake, but rebuilt on a
with impressive buildings intended to show Lisbon's recovery. Along the waterfront is a large square, called the
Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square). On one side of the square is the former royal palace, a main residence of
Portugal's kings from 1511 until their overthrow in 1910. Some features were covered for restoration during our visit.
Baixa has most of Lisbon's public buildings, and it is also the commercial center of the city.
A very interesting sight was
the church of São Domingos (Saint Dominic). It was completed in 1241
and for many centuries was
home to the Portuguese Inquisition (as fearsome as the Spanish Inquisition). It was severely damaged in the 1755 earthquake
and suffered further damage in a 1959 fire. It was reopened in 1994, but the restoration left much of the old damage still visible.
An outdoor elevator, the Elevador
de Santa Justa, connects Baixa with the
Bairro Alta district. It was built in 1901 by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel.
The Bairro Alta (Upper District) is the hip and lively part of Lisbon.
A further reminder of the
1755 Lisbon earthquake is the Igreja do Carmo (Carmelite Church). The earthquake
happened on a
Sunday morning, so when the roof collapsed it killed hundreds of churchgoers. It was decided to leave it in ruins as a memorial.
Another interesting building is the Rossio train station, built in the 1880s in a neo-Manueline style.
And yet another interesting--and very modern--building.
Lisbon has many good museums. We enjoyed the museum of fashion, in an old mansion on the outskirts of the city--with beautiful and relaxing gardens.
The Museo do Chiado (Museum of the Chiado district) houses contemporary art in an old warehouse.
The Museu da Cidade (City Musem) includes a large model of Lisbon before the earthquake and rooms with furniture of different periods.
The Museu nacional do Azulejo
(National Tile Museum), in a former convent,
showcases the country's artistic traditions in tile designs from old to new.
The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian is the collection that once belonged to a wealthy Armenian oil magnate.
The Parque Eduardo VII (named after the British monarch who visited Lisbon in 1902) slopes gradually toward the center of Lisbon.
At its end is a monument to
the Marques de Pombal, who planned the rebuilding of Lisbon after the earthquake.
The 1934 monument shows men and women hard at work, despite the giants pushing and proding below the earth.
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