"Overlooking Lisboa" Lisbon by smschley

Lisbon Travel Guide: 5,301 reviews and 13,159 photos

Arriving into Lisbon on the overnight train from Madrid was in some regards a return home. My mothers’ family emigrated from Portugal in the early 20th century in search of a better life in America like so many other people and I was raised in an area where Portuguese was as commonly heard as English. I never learned the language myself, but its sounds are so familiar to me. I was not let down. The people there are friendly and very accommodating, and the prices are still a bargain in comparison to the other European countries.

With a population of about 1 million, Lisbon is small in size compared with most European capitals. Located north of the Tagus River and set on seven hills Lisbon was founded by the Phoenicians, and in 205 BC it was colonized by the Romans. In fact Portuguese is considered the closest living language to Latin. The Visigoths conquered the city in the 5th century and the Moors did the same in the 8th century.

Modern day Lisbon is an urban center with plenty of nightlife, fine shopping and cultural events. New business and cultural centers co-exist with ancient monuments and 21st century cruise ships call where Portuguese galleons once set sail in search of trade routes across the sea. Important to me, it also has a larger number of people who speak English, much more than Spain and even Italy.

Because of its compact size, Lisbon is easy to get around. Trams, buses and subways shuttle passengers throughout the city. Funicular railways and elevators make the steep climbs easy. The city center is located between two squares - the Rossio (Praça Dom Pedro IV) and the Praça do Comércio. Around the Rossio are the national theater, the train station and busy shops and eateries. The Praça do Comércio is the larger of the two. In fact, it is one of the largest riverside squares in Europe. The commercial center, called Baixa (Lower Town), lies between the two squares. The Alfama, the old Moorish quarter, lies east of Baixa and is the location of the Sé (Cathedral), St. George Castle, the 10-acre botanical garden and the Museum of Geography.

  • Last visit to Lisbon: Apr 2004
  • Intro Updated Aug 24, 2004
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