A Colorful City with Ancient Origins
Portugal’s capital city Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, an understandable fact given its luxurious location and perfect climate. But while this city has roots that go back thousands of years, today it feels young at heart with its colorful streets and buzzing atmosphere.
Lisbon’s history is both grand and dramatic. This old seafaring queen lead new world conquests and discoveries for centuries. In the 16th century, explorers would disembark from the city from the Belém Tower which still stands today, only a few minutes from the epic Monument of Discoveries. The gorgeous building of the old Jeronimos Monastery houses the city’s ambitious Maritime Museum and both the building and museum are well worth a visit.
Lisbon’s prime location and new trading routes made it at times extremely rich, but such a strategically perfect location also made it a primary target for invading forces. Foreign cultural influence and trade embellished this colorful city and put a lasting mark on what seems to be a bottomless well of creativity.
The thriving art scene is also reflected in the excellent food where anything goes, as long as it tastes good. The gold coast frames the Atlantic with its inviting beaches, coming full circle in a feast for the senses. But nothing says Lisbon like the quintessential ceramics. Azulejo tiles are world famous for their vibrant colors and rich story telling. The entire city is a display of this ornamental artwork but for those thirsty for more insights we highly recommend the Azulejo Museum and for the ultimate display of the finest Azulejo art, visit the glorious Fronteira Palace and marvel at its endless decorations.
The Fairest Place of All
No single event has devastated Lisbon as badly as the Great Lisbon Earthquake and its subsequent tsunami and fires in 1755 which destroyed 85% of the city and killed approx. 50,000 people. Of the few streets that escaped the disaster, most can be found in Lisbon’s oldest quarter, Alfama, an enchanting and colorful area of narrow streets with a lively village atmosphere.
While in Portugal, don’t miss out on the town of Sintra, on the outskirts of the Lisbon metropolitan area. This town was a personal favorite of our personal favorite, Hans Christian Andersen, who returned again and again to the place he found the fairest of them all. UNESCO agrees with him since the whole town is a classified World Heritage Site. And not far from Sintra town is the Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe. Up until the 14th century, this was believed to be the edge of the world.
Let’s just say that if this really was the final edge, way to end on a high note, Europe!