For a city devastated two and a half centuries ago by the most destructive earthquake in Europe, Lisbon has risen dramatically. The Marquis de Pombal, the chief reconstructor of Lisbon was fortunate enough to build the world's first network-based capital. Between fascinating historical sites, a rich culture and a spectacular living environment, discover a city of a thousand wonders.
Lisbon, a historic city
To the east is the town's Romanesque cathedral, which stands on a rocky peak amid the ruins of St George's Castle. Although it was badly damaged in the earthquake of 1755, it has been expertly restored and contains a magnificent organ with rows of golden trumpets facing each other in the nave. Below the cathedral and near the riverside is part of old Lisbon, which escaped the shock of the earthquake, the medieval Alfama. It is a powerful reminder of the four centuries that Lisbon passed under the rule of the Moors until its capture by King Afonso I in 1147, with its narrow and winding streets, its stairs and its large white Arab buildings.
Activities to do in Lisbon
The gastronomy of Lisbon
One of the best ways to understand why the Portuguese are so passionate about their cuisine is to take a trip to a chic local restaurant. Not only will you get the chance to taste some of Portugal's best food, but you'll also get a taste of culture and a mini walking tour of a local neighborhood.
A walk on the Tagus
Lisbon is famous as a city of seven hills, which can be a bit tiring if you explore on foot. If the weather is nice, a boat ride in Lisbon will allow you to rest your feet while appreciating the architecture and learning about the city's stories from a different perspective.
The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
Few tourists go to the São Vicente de Fora Museum, which is ideal if you don't like clutter. This hidden gem contains a fascinating collection of azulejo panels depicting fables of Fontaine, royal tombs and incredible marble inlays. Admire the spectacular view from the rooftop.
The National Pantheon
You can see the domed roof of the National Pantheon from São Vicente da Fora. Inside you'll find a magnificent marble mausoleum containing the graves of some of Portugal's most beloved heroes and heroines, including Fado Queen Amelia and explorer Vasco da Gama.
Stroll along the Tagus
The Tagus River is the lifeblood of the city and it is now possible to walk along the river from the old royal square, Praça do Comércio, to the imminent Cais do Sodré. Sit on the steps or on the grass of the Ribeira das Naus or enjoy a cocktail at the kiosk or cafe as you watch boats of all sizes descend and cross the mighty stream.
A terrace on Graça
This panoramic terrace is slightly off the beaten track and therefore less crowded than some others in Lisbon. It’s a great detour with its fun bars. You can get there by tram or take a tour of the 7 hills of Lisbon by electric bike.
The doll hospital
One of Lisbon's most eccentric attractions is the charming Hospital and Doll Museum. Popular dolls and toys are treated and restored with the utmost care. There is a fascinating collection that includes papier mache dolls from the 1930s.
Feira da Ladra flea market
If you find yourself in the Graça district on Tuesday or Saturday, you'll find the streets behind São Vicente da Fora Church and the National Pantheon filled with makeshift stalls. You'll find everything there, including weird and outdated souvenirs and household items.
A tour of St George's Castle
The Moorish Castle of Lisbon, dating from the 11th century, offers a spectacular view of the city, and the possibility to wander the ramparts and see the cannons that were used during the wars. You can try to time your visit to see the city through the camera obscura, this reversed lens. Otherwise, just enjoy the park and the small museum in the company of peacocks.