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  • The Portuguese capital Lisbon,

  • lies on the Western Iberian Peninsula,

  • where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Settled almost 3000 years ago,

  • the city predates Rome, Paris and London by centuries,

  • and possesses an epic narrative to match.

  • From its early days as a Phoenician outpost

  • to it's expansion into a 16th century trading giant,

  • from the Great Earthquake of 1755

  • to its glorious reconstruction,

  • Lisbon has long been a city of shifting fortunes.

  • For much of the 20th century the city floundered,

  • but the winds of fate have again shifted in Lisbon's favour.

  • No longer a place of faded glory,

  • 21st century Lisbon is again a place of possibilities.

  • This is a city whose journey has forever been tied to the sea,

  • so it's not surprising that many of her most important landmarks

  • can be found along the waterfront.

  • Rising from the banks of the Tagus River,

  • the fortified elegance of the Torre de Belem stands as a reminder

  • of Portuguese prestige and power in days of old.

  • Just upriver, rises the Monument of The Discoveries,

  • which celebrates the nation's most revered seafarers,

  • such as Prince Henry The Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan.

  • Climb to the rooftop and look down upon the Mapa Mundi below,

  • which charts the routes and discoveries of Portugal's intrepid mariners.

  • Nearby, continue your voyage into Lisbon's seafaring past

  • at the Jeronimos Monastery.

  • Vasco da Gama spent his last night in prayer on this site,

  • before departing on his epic voyage to the Orient in 1497.

  • The vast monastery that stands today

  • was funded by the incredible wealth da Gamma's spice routes brought to the city.

  • This vast monastery complex is also home to the city's maritime museum,

  • which preserves relics from Portugal's Golden Age of Sail.

  • In the early 1800s,

  • Portugal's rulers forced the resident monks to vacate their beloved monastery.

  • Destitute, the monks sold a prized possession

  • their secret egg tart recipe.

  • Five generations later,

  • the neighbouring Belem Patisserie serves over twenty thousand pastel de nata

  • to sweet-toothed devotees each day,

  • and the recipe remains a guarded secret to this day.

  • Once you've stocked up on the world's finest pastel de nata,

  • set sail to the newest horizons in creativity

  • at The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology.

  • Further upriver,

  • the Portuguese love of the sea continues at the city's acclaimed Oceanario,

  • where hundreds of species glide by in a celebration of the global ocean.

  • From here, climb aboard the cable car and glide upriver again,

  • for birds-eye views of the city and the eleven-mile long,

  • Ponte Vasco da Gama, the longest bridge in Europe.

  • The waterfront is also where you'll find the city's grand gateway,

  • Praca do Comercio.

  • This great square in the centre of the Baixa District was once the home of the Royal Palace,

  • until a fateful All-Saints Day in November 1755

  • when a natural disaster changed Lisbon, and Europe, forever.

  • At the Lisbon Story Centre, feel the devastating tremors of that six-minute earthquake,

  • and the terror of the tsunami and five-day firestorm that followed.

  • The earthquake obliterated 85% of the city,

  • but with calamity, came opportunity.

  • Within a year, the rebuilding of Lisbon was well underway.

  • Wide avenues replaced the medieval rabbit warrens of old,

  • and a new style of elegant, earthquake-resistant architecture was born, Pombaline.

  • The earthquake also shook the city free from the religious dogma of old,

  • and from its cracks came the fresh new shoots of The Enlightenment.

  • Pass beneath the triumphal arch crowned with the figures of Glory, Valor and Genius,

  • a tribute to the city's swift reconstruction.

  • Then simply drift down Rua Augusta, and into another of Lisbon's great squares, the Rossio.

  • If Praca do Comercio is the city's gateway, the Rossio is its heart.

  • Since the middle ages, Lisbon's citizens have gathered here for bullfights and celebrations.

  • Today, it's the perfect place to relax by the cool of its fountains

  • and on the waves of its patterned pavement.

  • Lisbon belongs to that club of great cities which are defined by seven hills,

  • so wherever you roam, eventually you'll find yourself going up to take in the views.

  • Luckily, Lisboetas have come up with some innovative solutions

  • to save their legs on hot summer days.

  • From the Lower Town, ride the Elevador de Santa Justa, to the Barrio Alto District.

  • Here you'll find the Convento do Carmo,

  • whose unrestored arches bare testament to the devastation

  • which befell the city in 1755.

  • Climb aboard Tram 28, which passes some of the cities most iconic sights.

  • Then from Portas do Sol, make the climb to Castelo de São Jorge.

  • From high on the battlements of this 11th century Moorish citadel

  • the red tiled roofs of Lisbon spread out before you,

  • stepping down to the lower town and the blue Tagus beyond.

  • You'll find trams rattling all over Lisbon,

  • but the most beloved of all is Gloria,

  • which runs between the Lower Town to Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcãntara,

  • the perfect place to watch the city light up at dusk with someone special.

  • Although the Great Earthquake reduced much of Lisbon to rubble and cinders,

  • the ancient suburb of Alfama was spared.

  • Lose yourself amid the ancient cobblestones and steps,

  • where cafes, bars and artisan shops have taken residence

  • in the dockworkers homes of old.

  • Yet the area still retains its village atmosphere,

  • especially during the midsummer festivals when over 50 street parties

  • pop up all over the city.

  • The Alfama is home to the Romanesque Towers of Lisbon's Cathedral,

  • whose walls date back to the second crusade

  • when the city was liberated from the Moors.

  • If the stones of Alfama could sing,

  • then surely it would be the bittersweet lament of the Fado.

  • At the Fado Museum, discover the traditional song of Portugal,

  • which originated in the bars and laneways of the Alfama.

  • Then as the sun gets low, join locals in a fado bar

  • and listen as professional and up-and-coming fadistas

  • sing the heartrending stories of the working class and the sea.

  • Lisbon's walls may not sing,

  • but the tiles which adorn them possess a music of their own.

  • First introduced by the Arabs, over the centuries

  • the Portuguese have made the art of azulejo all their own.

  • Housed in a former convent, the National Azulejo Museum

  • celebrates the evolution of Portugal's tile-craft across the centuries,

  • from the biblical tales of old to the new frontiers of tile design.

  • You'll find azulejo at every turn in Lisbon,

  • from the practical to the purely decorative,

  • but to see the Sistine Chapel of tiles,

  • head to the city's north, to Fronteira Palace.

  • Just to the east, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum,

  • you'll find another of the worlds' great collections.

  • The museum's six thousand art treasures and antiquities

  • represent a lifetime of acquisition by the oil magnate Gulbenkian,

  • Lisbon's love of creativity isn't just confined to her galleries;

  • you'll find it amid urban renewal projects like the LX Factory,

  • which has breathed new life into the city's fabric factories

  • which fell silent long ago.

  • You'll find creativity on the communal tables of the Mercado da Ribeira,

  • where some of the city's most innovative chefs and brewers reinterpret age-old traditions.

  • Lisbon has always been a city of discovery.

  • So when you're ready to explore a little further afield you'll find no end of adventure.

  • Less than 20 miles west of the city is Cascais,

  • an ancient fishing village that was woken from its slumber

  • when Lisbon's nobility discovered it's golden bays in the late 1800s.

  • Another playground for Portugal's Monarchs was Sintra,

  • the home of the Summer Palace.

  • A half hour drive to the northwest of Lisbon,

  • Sintra is more than a weekend destination;

  • it's a journey into a fairy tale.

  • Hans Christian Andersen fell under Sintra's spell,

  • returning time and time again,

  • calling it the most beautiful place in Portugal.

  • From Sintra it's just a short drive to the incredible coastline

  • of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

  • Spend a few days exploring some of Europe's most beautiful beaches,

  • such as Praia das Macas,

  • named after the apples which floated downriver

  • from nearby orchards and washed up upon its sands.

  • From here, venture southward and explore the remote beaches of Adraga and Ursa,

  • where Atlantic waves have carved a dramatic coastline straight from Homer's Odyssey.

  • At Cape Roca, stand upon the cliff top,

  • which until the 14th century was considered the end of the world.

  • Here, on the western-most point in mainland Europe,

  • 400 feet above the pounding Atlantic,

  • it's easy to understand how Lisbon's seafarers were drawn

  • to see what lay over those far horizons.

  • Yet no matter what wonders they saw,

  • what riches they found,

  • they always yearned to return to their city,

  • Lisbon, the Queen of The Sea.

The Portuguese capital Lisbon,

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Lisbon Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

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    Eric Wang posted on 2020/05/03
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