Lisbon - Lisbon guide, attractions and pictures

Lisbon Travel Guide

Lisbon emerged as a nation state back in the 1100s, and it is one of the oldest cities in the world. The name of the city means “magical port”. The city was a hub of trade due to its excellent location since its founding, but the 15th century was when it really began to flourish. This was the era of Portuguese discovery and colonization, when the country amassed wealth and prosperity through its colonies on the shores of Africa, in North and South America and Asia. Lisbon was almost completely destroyed during the earthquake of 1755. It was rebuilt and began expanding to the north in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The city boasts a wonderful variety of gardens, monuments and other attractions. Ajuda is the first botanical garden in the country, dating back to 1768. The garden features a large number of plant species brought during the explorations of the Portuguese throughout the world. The Science Faculty Botanical Garden is believed to be one of the most important of its kind in Europe. Dating back to the 19th century, it features some 2,500 species, some of which cannot be seen anywhere else.

The Belem Tower is another landmark of Lisbon, found in Santa Maria de Belem’s civil parish. The fortified tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to the important role it played during the Age of Discoveries. Commissioned by King John II and built in the 16th century, the Belem Tower was a gateway to the city and part of its defense system. It is a fine example of the Manueline style, incorporating elements of other architectural styles. The structure comprises of a 4-storey tower and a bastion, and it was made of lioz limestone.

Among the monuments in Lisbon, some of the many worth seeing are the historic Aqueduct of the Free Waters, Estrela Basilica, and the House of the Pointed Stones. The aqueduct dates from the 18th century, when it supplied the city with water. Its tallest arch is 66 meters high. The Estrela Basilica features the extravagant late- Baroque style of the 1700s. It is one of the most interesting churches in Lisbon. The so-called Casa dos Bicos (House of the Pointed Stones) has a very unusual façade with points, hence the name. The façade has elements in the Manueline and Renaissance style while the house itself was built in the beginning of the 16th century. The House of the Pointed Stones has survived the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which destroyed large parts of the city. Casa dos Bicos is similar to the Bevilacqua Palace of Bologna and the Diamond Palace of Ferrara.

Lisbon boasts several very interesting castles. One is Saint George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge), dating all the way from the 5th century. The castle features an amazing view of the entire city and the Tagus River, as well as a multimedia historical exhibit. You should also check out the Ogival House. Here you can see a door from the 1600s, which once served as a link to the jails in the castle. This castle was once the official residence of the king of Portugal. Thereafter, royal residences were built in more isolated areas like the enchanting town of Sintra.

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